Happy Hour: Habanero’s Mexican Grill

Leah LeMoineMay 6, 2021
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You know what I’ve missed during the pandemic? Chips and salsa in real time. Sure, I brought some home from local Mexican restaurants to enjoy with my takeout tacos and tamales from time to time, but those were not – and will never be –the same as a bowl of crunchy shards of fresh corn tortillas still hot from the fryer and glistening with flecks of saltsided with ramekins of brightcool and colorful salsaSomething is lost in transportation. 

When I found out Habanero’s Mexican Grill, a North Valley institution with two Scottsdale locations, had a happy hour, I got excited. My fella and I used to frequent the Northsight Boulevard outpost for lunches when we worked in offices nearby. The restaurant was bright and cheery, and the service was always topnotch, with the cashier greeting him by name and servers frequently checking in during the meal. I decided to hit the Scottsdale Road location instead, though – it’s roomier than the Northsight sliver, so I thought it would be easier to distance from other people as I continue my tentative return to dining in.  

Photo by Leah LeMoine

As I settled into my chair on the small patio in front of the restaurant, I surveyed the abundant spread of chips, salsa, queso and guacamole before me. This song started playing in my head. My face turned into the heart-eyes emoji. I sighed. I dragged a chip through the red salsa and into my boca. I closed my eyes. Heaven.  

And such a cost-effective heaven! During happy hour, chips with guacamole and salsa are just $4.99 – and you get a lot of chips, a dish of guac and two salsas, one smooth and red and the other a smoky, seed-speckled green. The guacamole is garlicky and medium-chunky – small hunks of avocado and tomato mingle with smaller bits of onion. Queso dip ($5.99; add chorizo for $1) is on the lighter side and clearly made with real cheese, not just processed “cheese food” (I have nothing against the latter, but for those who do – this queso is made with real queso). It’s slightly spicy, super creamy and the perfect dip for Habanero’s tricolor tortilla chips.   

Photo by Leah LeMoine

Mini flautas or mini chimis ($6.50; chicken or steak) are served with more of that glorious guac, shredded lettuce and a quenelle of sour cream. I ordered the chicken flautas (an appetizer version of my usual lunch order) and took them everywhere I took those chips – into the salsas and queso as well as the guacamole. When you’re eating alone, you can create fun double-dip combos. My favorite approach is to dip a flauta in sour cream and then in any of the other dips/salsas, but another winning combination is a dip in the queso followed by a dip in the red salsa. Perfecto. 

Other happy hour noshes include a cheese crisp with guacamole and pico de gallo ($6.50) and bean and chorizo dip ($6.99). I’ll be back for those babies.  

Draft beers including Coors, Bud Light and Michelob Ultra are $1 off, and the house margarita is $4.99. Specialty drinks like micheladas, palomas, cucumber mules and white sangria are not discounted, but worth a try at just $6.99-$9.99. Wine – Chardonnay, Pino Grigio, Merlot and Cabernet – is $6.99 a glass.  

I went with the frozen house margarita, which was served in a fishbowl-size glass with a salt rim. What better pairing for chips and salsa?  

Photo by Leah LeMoine

Happy hour runs Monday-Friday from 36 p.m. Dine-in only.  

Tequila Tuesday brings a posse of discounts: 

  • $7.99 toritos, four stuffed jalapenos with cream cheese, bacon and chorizo 
  • $4.99 house margaritas all day long 
  • $2 off any tequila shot 
  • $2 off Cadillac margarita 

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