Habanero – Mexico on Goan Soil | Baga
Nestled in the heart of the Baga, close to the Club Titos and Mambos lane, Habanero is a cosy joint catered to rustic family dining and speciality restaurant aficionados. The restaurant itself has a dual setting, an open garden style with picnic tables for families as well as friends catching up and a more formal seating on the first floor above the bar. The decor chosen by the management is very colourful and gives the air of a Mexican Fiesta combined with the Carnival of Goa.
Opened a couple of months ago, by brother-sister duo Rohan and Pooja Ghotage, Habanero, though a franchise outlet, continues to encompass the Founder’s vision of a truly unique Tex-Mex experience for the people of Goa. Habanero is also looking to set up Goa’s first Micro Brewery which is a concept that will surely have people flocking in large numbers once it is up and running.
The Bar at Habanero is well designed with very skilled bartenders and a very engaging menu. The first round of drinks was the classic Sangria and the Tamarind Margarita. The Sangria was as we expected, fruity and refreshing, but the Margarita with its tang and alcoholic buzz gained our favour.
They were followed by the Smoothie Mojito and the Pitcher Margarita. The Margarita was blended perfectly and the quantity was too much for us. We were happy not to have been served the Fishbowl Margarita!
Once seated, we were introduced to Mr Ayan, who holds the fort while the owners are not present. He aided us in explaining their menu and concepts before initiating the barrage of starters that we received.
We started out with the complimentary Nachos with a triad of Salsas (Pineapple, Chilli and Original). What struck us first was the nachos are made in house as opposed to most restaurants that buy the readymade ones and the salsa is made daily to retain freshness and the acidic kick from the lime and tomato. Post that we were served Nachos with exquisite Black Bean Hummus and the Beef Topped Nachos. The grilled beef and jalapenos with their robust flavours along with the cheese, sour cream and fresh Guacamole really rounded out this appetiser. It coming in two sizes (Mini and Mucho) just adds to the excitement.
Next came the Chipotle Chicken Skewers, which was one of the highlights of our meal. The chicken was tender and matched well with the spicy tang of the Chipotle dressing. The Sesame and Lime Shrimp Tostada followed the chicken which was an explosion of flavour. The perfectly cooked prawns with the sesame and the crunchy tostada worked well in tickling the taste buds while being light on the palate.
Following this came the Beef Sampler which contained a Hard Shell Beef Taco, Burrito, Mexican Rice, Sour cream and Guacamole. This was one of the most filling dishes we were served. The Taco was delicious with the beef and beans mixing well with the crunch of the shell of the taco that would keep true Mexicans happy. The Burrito was authentic and meaty which carnivores like myself would enjoy.
The first of the mains was the BBQ Beef Pizza in proper Tex-Mex style with the base made from Tortilla and with refried beans as part of the toppings.
Up next was the BBQ Pork Ribs. The were tender and presented uncut which is the holiest way to serve meat lovers. With the crackling skin and ‘fall off the bone’ meat, the was another highlight of our meal.
We were also served the Bean Patty Burger, a patty made with Mexican spices and refried beans and Prawn Fajitas. The Fajitas on the sizzle plate with the spiced bbq prawns and Mexican Rice had a nice kick to wake up our palate which was settling with all the meaty delights that we were indulging in.
The final main was the Grilled Peri Peri Pomfret. We being Goan and Fish lovers, this was the hands-down winner of the night. The beautifully grilled fish and the heat of the peri peri chilli simply blew us away. A must have for a first visit.
By the end of the plethora of appetisers and mains, we requested the management to go easy on the dessert. They responded with the dessert that will make them well known in the state, the Churros with Chocolate Sauce. They were delightful. Light and crispy and the chocolate sauce, with its consistency and taste simply brilliant, was a perfect partner to the Churros. I look forwards to many more variations of this dessert in the future.
Habanero is a new addition to the restaurant scene in Goa but given the quality and freshness that they add to their dishes, they will grow in fame in the months to come. Also, the concept of a microbrewery could be a potential game changer for them and many like me will be eagerly awaiting its completion.