Sunday, April 12, 2015

Hablo Taco, Tampa, FL

Oh, do I loathe thee?  Let me count the ways.  First of all, anyone not gifted with an IQ level of at least 100 points will never be able to decipher the convoluted payment system at your "convenient" parking garage.  Hire an attendant and charge more, for gawd's sake, so everyone doesn't have to wade through a human clusterfluck of mass confusion in order to park and get on with their day.  Now that I've gotten THAT out of the way...onward to Hablo Taco.

The vibe here is relatively sterile, more bar-like than restaurant-like and predominately staffed by lackadaisical 21 year-olds.  I've honestly gotten more enthusiastic service at a McDonald's drive-through window.  Expect the place to be noisy, chaotic and awash in a broad swathe of rowdy humanity, especially if a Lightning game is imminent...

 it was on my visit.  Due to that fact, we were presented with postage stamp sized menus with extremely limited offerings, apparently because it's too difficult to keep up during a local event rush...therefore, several items I specifically came to try were not available.  Sorry, but a full restaurant on a hockey game day is not the same as Christmas Day at the Columbia where a limited menu is a little more understandable.

Moving on to food and bev, there are few complaints in that department.  The Diablo margarita is one-of-kind and not for the faint of palate.  Mezcal, triple sec, blood orange liqueur, lemon and lime juice, simple syrup and jalapeno (heavy on the jalapeno) converge to create an interesting juxtaposition of tangy citrus, boozy goodness and sweat bead-inducing Scoville unit levels of heat in this libation.

Fresh guacamole is available in an array of tantalizing applications.  We zeroed in on the Bacon and Cheese guac, which was a pleasing, generous mound of creamy avocado interspersed with crispy porcine crumbles and queso fresco.  Accompanying chips, however, were greasy and had an aftertaste of fryer oil.

My Southern Tacos (fried chicken, cabbage slaw, avocado ranch, roasted corn salsa and BBQ drizzle) were probably the largest tacos I've ever tried to shoehorn into my mouth...and I got two with a side of rice included for $8.50, which felt like a bargain.  This was an interesting application, but it didn't put me on the fast track to Flavortown.  I supposed I deserved that for making such a wimpy, gringa-sounding selection.

UD's fat, protein-laden Burrito Grande with beef barbacoa, pulled chicken, guac, shredded cojita, dressed lettuce, crema and black beans was the star of this particular talent competition.  I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the rice and bean sides were better than those served at most Mexican restaurants in town. 

While the food (based on our limited options) was mostly good, service, ambiance, clientele and location combined to create a somewhat negative experience.  Hablo Taco seems to be geared towards more youthful diners who will undoubtedly appreciate it more than a couple of cranky old Baby Boomers.

Hablo Taco on Urbanspoon

My blog entries contain the unmitigated, and sometimes unforgiving, dining truths and perceptions I experience as an ordinary restaurant patron. Every meal I post about has been fully paid for by one of the participating members of my personal dining party. I do not engage in the gratis blogger freebie dining events I'm constantly invited to attend and never will. If I ooze font-like love for a restaurant in my blog, it's because they totally earned it…not because they gave me free food or knew I was going to share the experience on the internet.


  1. How sad. I hate it when you go someplace with high hopes and it's just okay. I want excitement. I want my taste buds to dance their own little party in my mouth. June

  2. A crowd of that irk would send me running to the hills. I am so lucky to have El Gallo Grande near us. Now if I could remember to go EARLY, all the better. Thanks for another nice review.

  3. Customer service is a dying art. Having a limited menu is like admitting you don't have your stuff together.