Habañero Latin American Fare at the Levee
One Levee Way
Habañero’s, a Clifton mainstay for nearly ten years, opened a second location a few months ago at Newport on the Levee and I finally got around to visiting recently. Located on the Riverwalk Level in the former Moe’s Southwestern Grill space, Habañero’s picks up where Moe’s left off, serving gigantic burritos and savory Latin American fare at prices that won’t break the bank.
Customers queue up just inside the doors to scan through the chalkboard menu then place orders with one of the sandwich makers behind the counter. Selections are prepared while you watch. I knew from past experience that the burritos are substantial, and as I was only feeling peckish I opted for a kid’s mini veggie burrito, which came with a side of chips & salsa and a small drink.
The word “veggie” in this case refers to the burrito being vegetarian - since there were no vegetables inside, only beans and cheese - but it was quite tasty and filling. You can choose between black beans or pinto. The thick, buttery chips are house-made and hold up well without breaking when dipped into the delicious smoky tomato-chipotle salsa, of which there wasn’t enough, but that might have been due to the fact that I got a child’s portion instead of an adult’s. The little condiment cup of salsa that came with my meal only held about two ounces, so I was out of salsa long before I was out of chips. It’s easily rectifiable though – just ask for a refill.
Habañero’s caters well to the vegetarian with lots of choice all across the menu. There are mixed veggie chimichangas, veggie quesadillas, create-your-own burritos and tacos, and three signature vegetarian dishes, which can be made as burritos or open face. The Chuba Cabre is probably the most interesting of the three, consisting of cinnamon-roasted squash, pinto beans, rice and apple-green chile salsa, but it doesn’t provide a variety of textures for your tongue. I have yet to try the other two dedicated veggie signatures but that’s what revisits are for. For the record however, the Tofu Tango consists of roasted eggplant, tofu, pinto beans, rice and fire-roasted corn salsa, while the Venus de Veggie is chock full of mixed grilled veggies, black beans, fresh green pepper, rice and corn salsa.
The restaurant has a limited but good selection of draught microbrews and imported bottled beer, but sadly doesn’t carry my local favorite, Christian Moerlein. Happy hour runs daily from 4-7 p.m. I know the Clifton location also serves up pitchers of sangria, margaritas, mojitos, and glasses of wine, but I forgot to note if it was the same at the Newport location, and calls to the restaurant went unanswered.
The only thing I didn’t care for about Habañero’s is that the food comes in plastic baskets instead of on plates. I know that’s a pretty minor issue, and I realize that it’s probably a cost saving measure to help keep prices low, but it’s a bit of a turn-off - especially when the burritos are so large that they overhang the basket and spill onto the table.