Please note that the meal was complimentary. However, the opinions expressed in my blog are 100% my own!
Back in May, we celebrated Jodi's birthday at Habanero Blues, a Mexican restaurant located Midtown Manhattan. There, we had a great time and very good food, certainly thinking about going back. Little we knew that one of the owners, Willy Reichenbach would invite me few months after for a meal there. Willy is a great guy, with lots of energy and passionate about the restaurant and ensuring his patrons have a great time. He gave me a few bits of interesting info about the place:
How did you come up with the name?
"We thought it sounded cool. We didn't really have a great name and I actually design restaurant concepts as a hobby and originally called it Habanero Grill. Then I had a bunch of names. One was Habanero Harry's. A lot of people liked the name Habanero Blues. I know that some people associate it with music".
Why did you decide to open a Mexican restaurant?
"I love Mexican food. I love all kinds of food but Mexican is one of my favorites. I used to go to Jackson Heights often for really authentic Mexican food in places where I was the rare gringo. I have been to Mexico but truth be told, you can find good Mexican here in New York. I wanted to bring the kind of Mexican food I like to Americans. Many people won't venture into ethnic neighborhoods. In our first restaurant, David Copperfield's, we did a lot of Mexican influenced food and at the Hop Devil Grill we ran a Taco Tuesday and a Tostada Thursday special. We made an awesome Pozole there and I am trying to get the Habanero Blues pozole to that level. Hop Devil had a Southwestern Menu mostly and we ran a place for a short while called the "Latin Lounge". "
What can you tell me about the restaurant?
"Habanero Blues is our first full out Mexican restaurant. We opened about 8 months ago but we had to develop it to where it is now. We are still adjusting some dishes but I am very proud of the current menu. A lot of great things to eat".
Willy also gave me a tour of the place that is even bigger than what I thought with not only a room with full bar upstairs, but also a room downstairs with some amazing street art.
Food wise, we were there for a treat and tried some succulent dishes prepared by the Chef, Angel, who is from Pueblo in Mexico.
I started off with a sangrita, a mix between their margarita and their Burgundy sangria, a quite refreshing drink.
Of course, we had to have guacamole that was perfectly seasoned.
But the most surprising was the Esquites en Vaso, Mexico City street style corn made with chipotle aioli, cotija cheese and cayenne pepper. It was fantastic with a nice sweetness of the corn counterbalancing the slight kick of the cayenne pepper.
For her entree, Jodi had a vegetarian enchilada that was one of the best I had. Often, I find vegetarian enchiladas bland, with tons of cheese to mask the fact that the vegetables are tasteless.
On my side, I tried the barbacoa that is braised beef served with arroz y frijoles (rice and beans). You can eat it straight or in a tortilla that comes with three different toppings: one made with corn, onions or fresh cilantro. The meat was awesome: nicely fatty, it literally melted in my mouth. Know that you can also order it in tacos.
I also tried their chicken mole that was delicious. Homemade, the mole is made with chocolate, chilis, peanuts, raisins, sesame seeds and plantains. I loved the sweet and savory taste of that dish that is kind of decadent with the chocolate in it.
Last was dessert. We got the churros we tried the last time we went there, definitely a must have.
As well as the flan that is made with condensed milk, giving a dense and creamy texture to a wonderful dessert.
This was, again, a great meal. Habanero Blues is a place I recommend, their food is delicious, beyond the classic tacos, and it is one of my favorite Mexican places in the city.
Enjoy (I did)!
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Habanero Blues - 29 W 36th St, New York, NY 10018