Noyen stands in the fairly full parking lot of El Habanero as we make our entrance
3500 S 8146 W
3 stars out of 5
There is so much good Mexican food around Salt Lake that we cannot be everywhere at once. This is where you come in. I recently received word from a fellow taco enthousiast named Collette that we needed to try a restaurant which serves great Cochinita Pibil. As I am a fan of Cochinita Pibil (click here if you didn’t read the bit I wrote about it), I had to try it out. So Noyen and I jumped in the car. And we headed west. We continued heading west. And then we headed west a bit more. We saw many amazing things, but I will leave that to Noyen.
We snapped this photo to illustrate how far west we went. 8164. WEST!!! I think in the phonebook it's probably listed as DEEP MAGNA. I didn't know it was possible to go that far west without crossing state lines.
Finally as we thought we were going to start ascending the mountains which make up the western rim of of the Salt Lake Valley, we arrived at El Habanero to find a packed parking lot. This apparently is a very popular Mexican joint. So popular that we noticed it had been applauded by Hollywood celebrities. But we will get to that in due time.
As we were told that the Cochinita Pibil was the thing to try here, we asked the waitress if this is what she would recommend and she acquiesced that it was their best item on the menu. Noyen and I both ordered that and checked the place out. The interior is bright and colorful. The walls have been refinished so that they almost look like adobe. The interior might even be higher quality than The Mayan or Denver’s original Casa Bonita. OK, so it’s not up to that high calibre, but we did enjoy and appreciate it.
My Cochinita Pibil. I used more tortillas than the 3 depicted here.
The horchata was delicious, although it was probably from a simple mix. The chips were delicious and hot and the salsa was pretty good. Finally we both got our Cochinita Pibil and dove right in. The meat was extremely tender and melted in your mouth. This is usually the case with pibil, but to get this result does require some acidic citrus. The citrus flavor was much stronger than other pibils that I am used to. So much so that it was hard to eat with a fork on its own. I had to eat it in tortillas and beans to help balance it out. The taste was great, but the citrus was just too strong. The rice and beans were standard fare. I would say they compare to a typical restaurant like Chubby’s or La Hacienda.
So while my Pibil was good, it was not as good as others I have had before. I would say that the pibil at Red Iguana is far and away more enjoyable. I even think that the Rico’s Cochinita Pibil that you can find in your local supermarket might be a better option but I haven’t had one of those in a long time. I’ll have to snag one again soon to compare. So on the whole, the food at El Habanero was average. Middle of the road. However, what we didn’t expect to see were signed photos of celebrities who love El Habanero which included :
- Danny Glover
- Local girl’s swimming team
- A creepy looking Santa (watch for it)
A photo and signing expressing Mr. Danny Glover's enthousiasm for El Habanero
I would like to try El Habanero again, but I should try something besides the Pibil. Do you have any thoughts or comments on this restaurant? Something I should try next time?
In parting, I leave you with a few scenes from the career of Mr. Glover. First is the unforgettable moment of Danny sharing his first taco with the Predator. Thansk to taco enthousiast Collette for this one :
Tacos. Friends. Intergalactic borders are melted.
And here is a wonderful re-enactment of the scene in Lethal Weapon where Mr. Glover hands his hilarious aussie sidekick a taco. Big thanks to OVENMIT for providing this photo.
"" ..riggs, im getting too old for these grande chorizo breakfast burritos!"