Habañero Mexican Cafe—Call Ahead to Check Closing Times
Just wanted to let everyone know that HMC has occasionally been closing early during the week. Normally, they’re open until 5 on Tuesday through Thursday, for example. One day recently they closed instead at 3, apparently because business had been slow due to the construction going on in front of their restaurant, located at 501 W. Oltorf (between South 1st and Congress). From what I could tell, they sometimes call it a day too soon. Between 3 and 3:30 recently, they turned six people away while I was finishing up a meal. I suggest calling ahead before you head out there, especially if it's close to 3 P.M. Their number is: (512) 416-0443.
I finally had Roberto’s Special. Thanks for the suggestion, El General. This is a plate of huevos rancheros—eggs over medium, as requested—with a very tasty, fresh, ranchera salsa that was *not* just their table salsa dumped on the eggs; pretty good refried beans, though they’re not fried in noticeable lard or bacon grease; and good French fries instead of breakfast potatoes. I’m not complaining about fries with a breakfast plate because I ordered it closer to dinner than to breakfast. Besides, old breakfast potatoes always taste bad. I wish they offered better store-bought flour tortillas, but at least the corn ones are pretty good.
The “Roberto’s Special” comes with a side of regular beef fajitas—instead of, say, bacon—which were just as well-seasoned and tender as I remembered. A few people have posted that HMC’s fajitas are “chewy,” but I’ve never experienced that. Fajitas are not meringue, of course; it’s steak—so there’s some chewiness. But the meat certainly hasn’t been tough on my visits.
I tasted a companion’s fajitas rancheras, and they were also very good. They weren’t the super-spicy, bottom-of-the-pan kind that Nab had noted in a previous post, but they were spicy. The frijoles a la charra were memorable, too. They use plenty of bacon in those beans. The guacamole wasn't great because the avocadoes were overripe that day. But the type of guacamole they do (just mashed-up avocado, onion, and cilantro) is usually pleasant. I also noticed that the pureed-tomato-based red table salsa is spicier than it used to be. It seems they’ve taken it up a notch, too.
Another difference was that their delicious mesquite-grilled lengua is no longer on the menu. They do offer a plate with lengua guisada [stewed tongue with a (green?) chile-based salsa]. The lengua in the lengua taco ($2) is not lengua guisada. It seems to be just plain, steamed tongue, which is then shredded before serving. In other words, the taco filling is not stewed with salsa, though you can always add table salsa yourself. The taco was pretty good, but it’s not the same as those meltingly tender, kebab-shaped squares of lengua, right off the mesquite grill. How I'll miss those.