Less than a week after Taqueria Habanero opened its outpost near the University of Maryland, the staff could tell its new customers were responding well to the same staples of Puebla, Mexico, that push lines out the door at the original just north of Columbia Heights.
The restaurant’s second location began serving tacos, chilaquiles, and enchiladas this past Monday. Days later, despite having no sign up at 8145 Baltimore Avenue and no margaritas available until a liquor license comes through, workers were already recognizing repeat customers.
“I guess word of mouth is traveling around,” says William Martinez, who handles marketing and social media for the restaurant when he’s not waiting tables or washing dishes. “The past few days have been really great.”
Martinez says Dio Montero and Mirna Alvarado, the couple that founded Taqueria Habanero in 2014, have set up shop in College Park to ensure their high standards for fresh salsas and hand-made tortillas travel to Maryland. Montero’s right-hand man and fellow Puebla native, Arturo Montero (no relation), has transferred to the new location to oversee the kitchen.
The menu is mostly the same, Martinez says, but there are a few key changes. The College Park location has introduced a $45 molcajete — a stone Mexican mortar used to make guacamole and salsas — that arrives at tables stuffed with sizzling chicken, shrimp, chorizo, steak, queso fresco, and nopales (cactus paddles) as well as a smoky salsa verde.
Table-side guacamole is another new addition that integrates the molcajete. The College Park menu has added “Arturo’s ceviche,” which sounds like a steal at $10 with tilapia, shrimp, crab, serrano peppers, purple onions, and avocado all marinated in lime juice.
Here’s the full College Park menu:
Taqueria Habanero 6 by on Scribd
According to Martinez, the menu at the original Taqueria Habanero will soon undergo a similar revamp.
To help curb the wait that’s come to be expected on 14th Street NW, the Taqueria Habanero in College Park has a separate take-out counter ready for pack up orders for busy families or college students in a hurry.
Serving those two customer bases were a big factor in deciding to come to College Park. With Martinez translating, Alvarado says at heart, Taqueria Habanero is meant to be a family-run business that caters to other families.
“They see a bright future in this area changing over time, and they want to be a part of that change in the community,” Martinez says.
The Taqueria Habanero in College Park is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday.