by Chris Sands
Tadd Chapman’s Habanero’s in San Jose del Cabo features spicy offerings from one of San Jose del Cabo’s most seasoned culinary craftsmen.
Since its opening in 2004, Habanero’s Gastro Grill & Tequila Bar has been one of the brighter stars in San Jose del Cabo’s fine dining firmament, offering an intimate, casually upscale bistro environment, and first-class cuisine courtesy of celebrity chef Tadd Chapman. Chapman is one of Los Cabos’ most noted restaurateurs. He’s opened several restaurants in the downtown area, and is currently helming the major renovation of another local dining treasure, Don Sanchez Cantina Restaurante. Habanero’s can’t compete with the new Don Sanchez in terms of square footage, but the restaurant has many endearing charms.
Affordability is one Habanero’s signal assets. Food this good is seldom available at such generous prices, but Chapman is committed to maintaining his local following, and the combination of superior quality and budgetary value has attracted a lot of loyalty. The breakfast menu will appeal to even the most frugal visitors, with a selection of Mexican and American favorites offered at extremely affordable prices. Enjoy bagels and breakfast burritos, build your own omelet, or live it up with one of the delicious Eggs Benedict options. For a real treat, try the French Toast stuffed with black forest ham and cheese in a cinnamon egg batter, and topped with butter and syrup. Pair the french toast with a mimosa, and you’ve found one of the better ways to begin a day.
Habanero’s also benefits from a lack of pretension. The restaurant has a friendly, informal atmosphere, and Chapman doesn’t attempt to show off with exotic ingredients and baroque presentations. He’s confident enough in his considerable abilities to dispense with such frivolities, and the lunch menu provides a perfect example of his casual yet precise approach to culinary excellence, a comfort food feast that features fine dining twists on favorites like tacos, fajitas, and hamburgers. Highlights include the sublime Chipotle Tequila BBQ Baby Back Ribs, served with French fries and Caesar salad, and the Mexican Combo platter. The latter will satisfy the heartiest of appetites, and showcases an assortment of traditional delicacies such as cheese and epazote chile rellenos, red enchiladas, grilled flank steak, prickly pear cactus, black beans, and poblano rice.
Restaurants rarely establish their reputations on breakfast and lunch dishes, however. Dinner is the star maker, and Habanero’s shines brightest after the sun goes down. Chapman specializes in “Mexican Fusion,” but the menu features enough variety to please all palates. Steak lovers will thrill to the superb Filet Mignon, a prime cut of Sonoran beef with port and portabella au jus, garlic mashed potatoes, and fresh seasonal vegetables. Couples can share the Surf and Turf for Two, in which a broiled lobster is added to keep the filet company. Temporarily, anyway. And fish aficionados will appreciate the Blackened Ahi Tuna with papaya and pineapple salsa. In fact, the tuna dishes here all all terrific, including delicious appetizers like Ginger Ahi Tuna Ceviche and Habanero’s signature Spicy Tuna Sushizza.
In addition to his culinary capabilities, Chapman is also an oenophile, and the wine list reflects the chef’s love of the grape, offering a rich array of internationally representative selections from the U.S., Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Spain, Italy, Australia, and New Zealand. Baja’s Guadalupe Valley is particularly well represented, with bottles from some of the best wineries in the country’s best wine region. You can even order a glass of aged port to accompany your Cajeta Butterscotch Flan, one of many decadent pleasures on the dessert menu. Offerings from the onsite bar are also available, from cocktail specialties like mojitos and margaritas to single malt scotch and premium tequilas. Habanero’s tequila selection is immense, by the way, and adventurous sorts can sample a few liquid treasures from premium producers of this traditional Mexican liquor. It’s a fitting way to end an evening at one of Los Cabos’ most consistently satisfying restaurants.
Habanero’s in San Jose del Cabo is located on Boulevard Mijares, and is open for breakfast from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., and lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Dinner is served nightly from 5:30 to 11:30 p.m., and reservations are recommended. For more information, call (624) 142-2626, or visit their website at www.habanerosgastrogrill.com
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All photos courtesy of Habanero’s Gastro Grill and Tequila Bar.
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