Southeast of the border: Eating well and appreciating the art of the avocado

Written by on July 13, 2011 in Baltimore Bites, Featured - No comments

Whatever you do, if you go to Habañero Grill, the Salvadoran-Tex Mex mecca at Eastern and Newkirk, order some guacamole.

The burritos are bueno and the tacos are tasty, but the guac ($5.99) is otherworldly.

Nothing that looks this good could disappoint. It’s the guacamole, and it’s worth the trip from just about anywhere except, perhaps, Mexico. Photo by Jacqueline Watts

The avocado is mashed, not pureed to the bland consistency of Cream of Wheat, as in chain restaurants. There are bits of diced ripe tomato, and some diced onion, and just enough garlic and cilantro to make you close your eyes and murmur “mmmmmmm.”

The dip is prettily presented in a fried flour tortilla shell, with shards of handmade tortilla chips arranged around it. The chips are salted, not too much, and are sturdy enough to stand up to a big scoop of dip.

The appetizer is enough for three or four people.

You do have to save some room when dining at Habañero Grill, because the servings are impressive, brought out on platters vast enough for most Thanksgiving turkeys. The food on the platters is good, and it is cheap.

For instance: Habañero Grill is famous for its burritos, which are generously stuffed and liberally spiced. We tried the fajita steak burrito ($9.45), which was full of beans, cheese and chewy steak that had been seared with a mild spice blend and pepper. The lunch portion is more than enough for two, and it comes with a mound of perfectly cooked herbed rice and a ginormous pool of refried beans on the side.

The tostada salad (price varies depending on topping) is served in a tortilla bowl, and you can order it with the fajita steak, chicken or ground beef. It comes with a little scoop of guacamole and plenty of sour cream.

Habañero Grill cooks its meats with moderate spices—the heat is up to the customer, and can be applied via the small bottle of El Yucateco habañero hot sauce on every table. Unless you are a real chile head, use only a drop or two. Or use the salsa that comes with the free chips—it’s made with roasted tomatoes and is delicious.

Tacos ($5.95) are tasty and familiar Tex-Mex fare.

Habañero Grill, 4701 Eastern Ave. in Greektown, is open Mondays-Thursdays, 8 a.m.-10 p.m. and Fridays-Sundays, 8 a.m.-midnight.

Bottom line: We spent $39.18 at Habañero Grill on lunch for three. Go for the guacamole, and stay for the main courses.

by Jacqueline Watts

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