Tacos that taste ‘like grandmother’s cooking’ have proved a runaway success for an eatery in Shepherds Bush hailed as the Mexican restaurant of the year.
Habanera, in Uxbridge Road, wowed judges at this year’s prestigious Latin UK awards (LUKAS) – despite having only opened a year ago.
Owner Lorraine Caie, originally from New Zealand but now living in the area with her young family, said the win was ‘simply amazing’.
“I’m still smiling,” she said. “It's such a big lift when you've been working so hard to get open and established and taken so many risks. It was like someone sending us a big message saying 'you've got
it right - keep going’, and it’s made the team so proud.”
Spicy tacos – like Habanera’s authentic conchinita taco – and creative cocktails impressed the judges so much that the quirky restaurant beat off competition from 200 entries to be among the final 12 winners, each showcasing a different Latin cuisine.
For Lorraine, it’s a combination of varying seasonal flavours and a passion for staying local that has helped Habanera to success.
“I like to think we are just for Shepherds Bush: something unexpected, a little delight when you find us,” she explained.
With favourites including Three Little Pigs (pulled pork, bacon and chorizo with chipotle mayo), Baja Fish, wild mushroom, and coconut prawn, the varied menu has got locals coming back for more.
And with burritos, brunch, takeaway and even gluten-free options on offer, Lorraine – who also owns the nearby Hummingbird Café – said it’s not “one size fits all”.
“I just genuinely love watching people come in and have a great night,” she added. “I think when it's all cooked with love, people taste the difference and come back.”
Habanera is located at 280 Uxbridge Road in Shepherds Bush. For more details, call 020 8001 4887 or visit: www.habanera.co.uk.