It can be disquieting to walk into a Jewish deli and get served tamales and en-chiladas. But that's the routine at Los Habaneros (20255 Van Aken Blvd., 216.991.4522, loshabanerosmexican.com), a new Mexican spot run by Rogelio Hernandez. Granted, the space hasn't served matzo-ball soup since Eddie Sand's Blueline Café shuttered last year. But apart from a splash of paint and a few sombreros, the space hasn't changed. The menu certainly has. Diners can expect the typical Tex-Mex, south-of-the-border assortment of tacos, burritos, fajitas and combo plates. "Nothing is frozen but the margaritas," promises Hernandez. For fast, friendly, filling and cheap Mexican fare, Los Habaneros definitely fits the bill. Warm chips and fresh salsa hit the table before your butt hits the seat. A side of creamy guacamole is worth the $2.99, and the four plump, husk-wrapped tamales ($6.99) are packed with shredded pork. Entrées (there are close to 50) include sizzling platters of steak and/or chicken fajitas ($12.50) with all the fixings, chicken-stuffed enchiladas ($10.99) covered in dark, faintly sweet mole sauce and combo plates too numerous to list. Everything comes on a screaming-hot plate loaded with refried beans, fluffy orange-hued rice and enough cheese to fill a fondue pot. Los Habaneros serves a decent selection of Mexican beers and margaritas.
Todd Mueller, former chef at the now-closed Grill at Bainbridge Common, has joined the kitchen at Bistro 185 (991 E. 185th St., 216.481.9635, bistro185.com). "My parents were talking about what a great place the restaurant was," explains the chef, "[so] I jumped at the chance to work here." The classically trained chef joins an already deep bench, which includes Ruthie Hellman (the Ruthie half of Ruthie & Moe's) and owners Ruth and Marc Levine. Mueller's touch can already be tasted in creative dishes like crepe-crusted sole with hollandaise and 24-hour Hoisin-braised short ribs with polenta cake and Asian slaw.
Always been curious about ferment-ation? (And let's be honest, who isn't?) Head to Pilgrim Congregational Church (2592 W. 14th St.) on Saturday, March 14, for the Fermentation Fair, a fun-with-fungus discussion lead by Sandor Katz, author of Wild Fermentation. In addition to some history and culture discussion, attendees will learn the ins and outs on kraut, kimchi, hard cider, pickles and sourdough. The event runs from 1-4 p.m. and costs $10-25 (sliding scale). E-mail [email protected] or call 216.308.1612.