Varieties of chili peppers are just as diverse as Mexican cuisine, so get ready to explore a spice rack of flavors at Habaneros.
After more than a decade of working together in Cambria, Gabriel and Adriana Chavez realized their dream and opened their small Paso Robles restaurant in May 2011. With just a handful of tables inside and only a couple outside, you cant help but feel at home here, especially given Adrianas warm welcome and her extra touch of putting fresh flowers on every table.
Gabriel handles the kitchen side of things and says that his own love of fiery food prompted the Habaneros name, a nod to that particular pepper, which packs piping hot piquancy.
These seemingly innocuous little orange fruits have a wallop thats typically about a hundred times hotter than a jalapeño. Not to worry, however all the dishes are cooked to order here, so you can request your meal as tame or as scorching as you want.
The restaurants menu features authentic dishes from all over Mexico these are the real tastes, said Gabriel.
For example, he explained, the Salmon Veracruzano is a classic dish from the coastal state of Veracruz, while the seafood slant of Sinaloa is represented by the Agua Chile Tostada with spicy shrimp, and the region of Guadalajara is symbolized with tortas (think Mexican sub sandwich) and carnitas (braised meat, usually pork).
Among the other specialties at Habaneros are the sizzling Surf and Turf Fajitas (with shrimp, chicken and beef), Bistec Encebollado (steak and onion), the Chile Colorado con Nopales (slow cooked pork with red sauce and tender cactus).
The Chavezes have also put their own unique spin on a classic sandwich their Mexican Club is chock full of carne asada (thinly sliced beef), al pastor (spit-roasted, thinly sliced pork), and carnitas. In addition, you can order up familiar favorites such as chicken nachos or cheese enchiladas, chorizo burritos or beef chimichangas, chile verde or chile relleno.
Seafood lovers can also cast a wide net and come up with ceviche tostadas, Camarones al Mojo de Ajo (shrimp cooked with roasted garlic), salmon tacos, Mojara Frita (fried whole tilapia), and even fish and chips served with a mild habanero tartar sauce.
Or, for a real treat, reel in the Caldo de Siete Mares a traditional fish stew made with seven different types of seafood.
A few months ago, Habaneros started serving Sunday breakfasts as well. Get two eggs with bacon or sausage, or start your day in south-of-the border style with a burrito or quesadilla, Huevos Rancheros, or a chorizo omelet served with chilaquiles and potatoes. Usually, the classic weekend Mexican dishes of menudo and pozole are available as well.
Sundays at Habaneros also mean house-made tortillas, and that gives you an idea of the culinary approach here. All the salsas and sauces from pico de gallo to mole are made from scratch, the tamales are handmade, and the crispy chips are freshly cooked.
Because each plate is cooked to order, special requests can usually be handled, and Gabriel noted that the beans and rice dont have lard or chicken base, so theyre suitable for vegetarians.
The Chavezes also pride themselves on using local farm-fresh produce, and turn to the Paso Robles farmers market for the large majority of their fruits and vegetables.
Besides, said Adriana, I also have to go the market to get my fresh flowers!