Finding myself at the Chihuahua Mexican Grill at Bonifacio Global City (BGC) and wanting something to eat and fast, I opted for a simple beef burrito bowl.
To my delight, one bite led to the next until my bowl was empty. It was one meal that went down fine.
My burrito bowl was sublime. The spices were pronounced yet were married beautifully.
I then tried the nachos. The tortilla chips were sheer perfection. They were ultra-thin and crisp and they crumbled nicely. The chips were divinely capped with the right combination of queso, chili con carne, pico de gallo, chipotle salsa, sour cream, grated cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses and jalapeños.
Chihuahua’s food is magical in its simplicity. Founded in 2011, Chihuahua is the brainchild of Elian Habayeb and wife Ines Cabarrus.
Elian was born in Beirut, Lebanon, and raised in Houston, Texas, where Mexican food (referred to as Tex-Mex) is the staple. He came to the Philippines 20 years ago.
Meanwhile, Ines had spent years working in the Mexican community in Chicago and grew to love the flavors and spices of her Mexican friends’ home cooking.
The couple met in 2005 when Elian was working as a DJ at the Mandarin Oriental. He organized pool parties every other Saturday night at Paseo Uno Lounge.
Together, Elian and Ines wrote a best-selling coffee-table book, “Manila’s Best Kept Restaurant Secrets,” in 2007.
It seemed logical that Elian and Ines would eventually become restaurateurs themselves.
It took them about a year of testing recipes and hosting taco parties before they were convinced that it was time to have others take a bite of the flavors they shared a passion for. That was in 2011. Six years hence, the restaurant continues to thrive.
“We stuck to original recipes inspired by some of the most popular Tex-Mex restaurants in Houston,” he said.
Chihuahua’s best-selling Beef Picadillo (spicy ground beef) is prepared with 11 herbs and spices and five fragrant vegetables, he added.
Tender Pork Carnitas is braised in a tangy orange-cumin reduction.
Their tortillas, Elian added, are made with masa harina for a truly authentic taste and texture.
As for the Salsa Chipotle, only real Mexican chipotle peppers kept in adobado sauce are used.
Three cheeses go into the quesadillas: cheddar from Denmark, Monterey Jack from Wisconsin (US), and our legendary queso—a spicy, melted cheese dip they make in-house and slather generously on just about everything they serve. “We insist on using only the finest ingredients and on cooking everything fresh on site daily,” said Elian. “Flavors are never compromised!”
The restaurant is also famous for its tangy margaritas. Elian said the secret is quite simple—good tequila, quality orange liqueur and lime juice in the right proportions.
Chihuahua also has a vast and exciting selection of imported and homemade hot sauces for diners who wish to seduce their palates: Charlie Sheen’s Crazy Sauce (made with cayenne peppers), Dr. Evil’s Global Warming Garlic Sauce (made with roasted garlic), among others.
Asked what the restaurant means to them, the couple agreed: Chihuahua is like one of our children.”
Chihuahua’s Cilantro Vinaigrette
4 tbsp dijon mustard
4 tbsp cilantro
8 tbsp orange juice
4 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp cumin
2 c extra virgin olive oil
Put all ingredients in blender (except oil). Blend then add oil in a stream to emulsify. Toss your greens of choice with the dressing.
Chihuahua Mexican Grill, 2/F, Crossroads, 32nd and 7 Avenues, BGC, Taguig; tel. 5550414; and at Greenbelt 2, Ayala Center, Makati; tel. 6250106, 2121212