Mon - Thu -------- 11:00am to 9:00pm
Fri & Sat ---------- 11:00am to Midnight
Sun ----------------- 11:00am to 9:00pm
The clubby atmosphere of Habanero's Grill and Cantina -- dark green banquettes, white tablecloths, lots of dark wood -- reminded us of something. Could it be Portofino's? That's it.
The upscale continental restaurant that was a fixture in north Arlington for so many years has morphed into a Tex-Mex restaurant, but you wouldn't know it by the looks of the place. Same quiet, slightly dated feel. The menu told a different story, though. It was a tale of the familiar -- flautas and fajitas -- mixed with the kind of culinary creativity -- grilled pork chops with achiote sauce -- that too few Mexican restaurants attempt.
We chilled out with complimentary margaritas (till the restaurant receives its liquor license) while we weighed choices like grilled shish kebabs, $13.99; Mama Linda's carne guisada, $9.99; and a mixed fajita dinner for four (beef, sausage, nopales, chicken and shrimp), $26.99, that we'll try some time when we have a crowd. (It is touches like the sausage and nopales that set Habanero's apart.)
Brisket tacos, $9.99, are a special on weekends and Wednesdays. The moist, pulled brisket is served on tortillas that are toasted, rather than fried, making them not crispy but a tad crusty. A note attached to the menu said it's the best-seller.
Owner Ray Cosme, who also owns Habanero's in the Stockyards, says Ray's carne asada, $15.99, is his favorite meal -- and we can understand why. The rib-eye steak is attractively served with grilled scallions on top of the sizzling beef. It's accompanied by Spanish rice and a cup of smoky-tasting bean soup.
Aguacate relleno de camaron ($11.99) is three avocado halves filled with generously sized grilled shrimp and lightly drizzled with a French-style dressing. It's served with cilantro-lime rice and grilled asparagus, making for a cool, summery and healthful (if you go lightly on the avocado) meal for ladies who lunch -- or gentlemen who dinner, for that matter.
We wanted to try the Mexican chocolate cake dessert, $4.95, yellow cake with a flan filling and a chocolate glaze, but it was sold out.