Wine Dine and Play: Hablo Taco

Hablo Taco

Channelside Adds A Tequila Mexican Flair Near The Aquarium  
Tampa, Florida USA
Cuisine Style: Mexican, Tex-Mex
Dined in May 2017
By Sean Overpeck (CFE)

Tequila is the new vodka as my wife would say, and though Tampa has not fully caught up with this beverage Trend, but Hablo Taco has. The guys running the place can’t speak Spanish, and they let you know that with a big logo sign on the wall outside, but they sure can deliver their tequila and mezcal. The remainder of the bar menu needs some work on selections, but the food is good quality for bastardized Tex-Mex.

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Main review:
Dark wood furniture and bar tops fill the inside, and the colors of the Mexican flag for the design with the tables on the outside. The very spacious inside dining has an open kitchen, lounge area, and a U-shaped bar with the patio entrance on the opposite corner. The bathrooms are large and kept clean, however their was a bad smell from them almost like a sewer type smell. Being close to the water can cause this especially if the pluming and filtration is not at its best. It may have been something different, but it did affect the overall meal and parts of my appetite as a result.
 
Outside logo
Their drink menu explains the differences between blanco/plata, reposado, and añejo tequilas, as well as mezcal. Reposado and añejo are age declarations, with añejo being longer-aged than reposado. The clear stuff is gulping tequila while reposado and añejo and for sipping. Sort of like whisky which you can shoot, but single malt scotch you sip to enjoy the aromas and flavor. It is a shame they do not have scotches on the menu, it would have raised their overall beverage score and rating as you will see below. Tequila is mezcal that is made from blue agave in the Tequila region of Mexico. All tequila is mezcal; not all mezcal is tequila if that makes any sense at all.

Menu:
    • Vamos
    • Hablo Tacos
    • Salads and Rice Bowls
    • El Specialties
    • North of the Border
    • Sides
    • Sweets

The Vamos is the starter section where you have your typical Mexican fare with queso, guacamole, and other dips. The three amigos is a sampling of their queso, guac and salsa fresca which we started with.

Three Amigos dish
They also have two spicier chili salsa selections including habañero and ghost pepper chili. I had tried the ghost pepper once before, and enjoying spicier items it was still hot, and a perfect spring day to sweat a little more. After a few bites it did have spice, but it wasn’t as hot as the first pepper I tried compliments of some Indian friends who brought some back to work after traveling to their homes in Hyderabad.  

Ghost Pepper salsa

Assorted special items including burritos, a pork al pastor titled the vampire, a carne asada called Buffy the Puffy, and a grilled avocado to name a few. Large salads, a huge taco selection since that is part of the namesake of the restaurant and for the true Gringo, they have a north of the border menu with burgers and assorted taco seasonings. Under the sides I recommend the Mexican cornbread or the street corn, both are very good.

Mexican street corn

Nine taco selections are available from your standard, to pulled chicken, beef barbacoa, steak, shrimp, and a southern taco with fried chicken, a corn salsa and avocado which if I were hungrier, I would have jumped on it sounded so good.  Instead my wife and I shared the fish tacos, wanting to stay on the healthier side. The blackened mahi mahi with jicama slaw, mango salsa and cilantro sounded wonderful. The fish were also topped with a chipotle cream drizzle. Unfortunately the fish had very little flavor, even with all those wonderful sounding items included. The blackening did provide some spice, but the fish was aging and could have been much better.
Fish Tacos


Dessert:
We chose not to eat dessert, and we were honestly full. Churros and fried ice cream, two common desserts at every Mexican restaurant were also the two items listed on their menu. 



Other Noteworthy Mexican & Tex-Mex Favorites:
Benji’s Cantina Innovative approach toTex-Mex cuisine in Austin, Texas
Texas Chili Parlor Local eatery for Tex-Mex, chili, & American cuisine in Austin, Texas 
Güero's Taco Bar Landmark Mexican Restaurant on Congress Ave. in Austin, Texas
Carmelita’s Mexican Restaurant casual local chain for traditional meals in Pinellas Park, Florida
Besito Mexican Restaurant creative Mexican-blend eats chain; reviewed in Tampa, Florida
Wipeout Bar and Grill Surf shack theme with California and Mexican cuisine in San Francisco, California



Other Pictures:

Mexican cornbread
Salsa
Patio


Final notes and observations:
What is a restaurant review? Is one better than the other? How does the rating system work? Most reviews you read online are subjective, depending on the writer; but they should also be responsibly, and respectfully written, upholding the truth, and accurately conveying the experience. My job is to put you at the table with me, and to try and be objective to the best of my ability. Being impeccable with my word, never taking anything that happens personally, being honest in the review, never making assumptions, and to always write to the best of my knowledge. My ratings are notated by the level of stars I award (from 0 to 5). The star rating is based on the calculation and point accumulation of six separate factors with nearly seventy questions broken down by my individual experience. This includes: wine and other beverage selections, plate presentation, customer service, restaurant or café ambiance, food quality, plus a bonus section I call wow factor. To see more details on how I do my ratings read this article:

Over all from this experience, and using my rating system linked above, I give Hablo Taco a 0.5 out of 5 stars, meaning that they were a very basic dining experience like many chain restaurants. I feel that is the beverage list (except for the impressive tequila selections) and customer service number ratings improved, along with the smell from the restrooms, then there rating will go higher, possibly even to 2 stars.  The food quality with the fish lowered the rating slightly there as well. This rating list consists of 75 questions and is very strict, so even a lower score like this one does not mean that it is bad or you should avoid. Only the red warning 0 stars is the ones I would say take a closer look at. There are simple fixes, and higher customer service would have been enough to raise them to a full 1 star rating. To put into perspective, the average large chain restaurant is between 0.5 and 2 stars, and I have rated some top 100 restaurants of the world that have 1 Michelin star (a 5 star on my list) as low as 1 or 2 stars from the six factors used to get this rating. See chart below:

Formula Factor Conclusions and Overall Ratings
Max Points Possible:
Total Points Awarded:
Total Points deducted:
Ambiance
10
8.5
1.5
Food quality
10
5
5
Plate presentation
8.5
7.5
1
Customer service
8
5.5
2.5
Alcohol and other beverages
9
2.5
5.5
Total regular points awarded
45.5
29
15.5
Total percentage Before Bonus

0.637362637362637

“Wow” factor BONUS
5
0
0
Total bonus percentage

0

Total percentage with bonus for final star rating

0.637362637362637

Stars Awarded (see chart below)
0 - 5
0.5








Review basics:

5 stars
 An Extraordinary Experience
Worthy of a Michelin rating
   94 - 100%
(105% with full bonuses added)
4 Stars
An Outstanding Experience 
(Top of its class)
87 - 93%
3 Stars
Exceeded All My Expectations
80 - 86%
2 Stars
Far Above the Average Experience
72 - 79%
1 Star
An Average Dining Experience
66 - 71%
0.5 Star
The Restaurant is a very Basic Experience
61 - 65%
0 Stars
ALERT: Poor, or Appalling Experience
(Do not waste your money or time)
60% or below



Overall Star Rating:
0.5 of 5 Stars: 
64% Rating with a 0 point “wow” bonus
A Very Basic Dining Experience Similar To Most Chains
Corkage fee’s:
This Restaurant does not list any corkage fee’s however, most American restaurants charge $25.00 per bottle
Restaurant style:
Casual
Cuisine style:
Café, Modern, Lounge, Mexican, Tex-Mex

Allergen or dietary accommodations: 
Farm to Fork, Gluten Free, Grass Fed, Local, Low Carb, Non-GMO, Organic, Pescatarian, Sustainable, Vegan, Vegetarian
Reservations:
Not Required
Walk-Ins:
Accepted
Dress code:
Casual attire
Child policy:


The Restaurants reviewed on this site may have a child’s menu or cater to them; however for full enjoyment of food and wine, it is recommended for children not to be in attendance, unless they have been trained in proper etiquette. If not then
Hire a Babysitter! 
Experiences:
Trendy, Lounge, Business parties, Great bar, Great outdoor dining, Rustic, Tourist grabber, and a Neighborhood gem.
Payments:
Cash, Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express
Parking:
Street Parking
Wifi
The restaurants reviewed on this site may have Wi-Fi, but do not require you to go online, because the excitement of the food and wine alone will keep you too entertained instead of checking your social media and emails.
Noise level:
Low to Medium
Smoking:
Nonsmoking restaurant, and nonsmoking patio
Patio:
Yes









A few Tampa restaurant reviews on Wine, Dine, and Play:

Upscale eatery with butchery at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Chain eatery for creative pies
Asian restaurant with sushi at the Hard Rock Casino
Eclectic & innovative gastropub using molecular gastronomy
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Café chain for health-minded breakfast, brunch, & lunch
Sleek chain with Hawaiian menu + sushi
Hip British-inspired and themed pub
Vibrant spot for classic Spanish dishes & tapas
See the whole list by visiting “The Wine, Dine, and Play Article Glossary”


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Rustic New American Fare
 A top 100 on Wine, Dine, and Play
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Old-world classic Italian & Mediterranean
Gulfport
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Tampa
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St. Petersburg
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Orlando
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Key West
Landmark bar since 1851, where Jimmy Buffet got his start
Brandon
Casual curries of North & South with Buffet
Sarasota
Authentic & Traditional  Peruvian Cuisine
St. Augustine
Locally Sourced Café for Southern Grub




Food Prices 
(excluding, alcohol, taxes & gratuity)

$£€¥ -                Under 50.00 
$£€¥ x 2 -          51.00- 99.00 
$£€¥ x 3 -          Over 100.00 
$£€¥ x 4 -          Over 200.00 
$£€¥ x 5 -          Over 400.00 


**Currencies chosen reflect the world’s major travelers and restaurant or wine connoisseur’s**

My food bill:
Currency:
Price chart:
$24.00
United States Dollar (USD)
$$
$32.00
Australian Dollar (AUS)
$$$
£19.00
Great Britain Pound Sterling (GBP)
£££££
$32.00
Canadian Dollar (CAN)
$$$
¥163.00
Chinese Yuan (CNY)  
¥¥¥¥¥
€21.00
European Union (EUR)
€€€€€
Currency rates as of June 2017

 Alcohol Prices:

$23.00


Hablo Taco:
Channelside Bay Plaza 
615 Channelside Drive 
#127 
Tampa, Florida 
33602




Contact Information: 
Restaurant website:
Maître d or host:
+1 813-405-8226
Serving hours:
Eastern Standard Time
(GMT, Zulu, or UTC - 5:00)

Sun-Thur
11:30 am - 10:00 pm
Fri-Sat
11:30 am - 12:00 am
Email  contact:
Social Media 
Accolades:
Facebook link                




****
The worlds best restaurants is a subjective list based on who is writing about them, and it changes on a regular basis. My list of best reviewed restaurants here on Wine, Dine, and Play is based on a rating number at 4 or 5 stars. From the 350 + published reviews as of summer 2017, less than 15% hold these prestigious rankings, meaning that the visit was an outstanding or extraordinary experience. I have dined at restaurants on five continents from cafés, chains, and fine dining spots including a few that are rated on the Michelin one to three scale. Below is a sampling of some from my list, which include mom and pops + holes in the wall. These places can be just as good, or if not better than a top ranked restaurant of the world in my opinion. To visit my full list of best places follow this link:


A few to tease you with…

Vibrant Pan-Indian Cuisine
Slough, United Kingdom
Elegant Modern Australian with Molecular Gastronomic dining 
Melbourne, Australia
Modern eclectic and Nouvelle Latin cuisine
Woodstock, South Africa
High Rise Fine Global Dining, Highest Restaurant In The World
Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE
Haute French Cuisine
Paris, France
Highly creative new American molecular gastronomy tasting menus
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Impeccably prepared French fine dining 
Dublin, Ireland
Acclaimed high-concept inspired Farm to Table tavern
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Refined and elegant creole fare since 1880
New Orlean’s, Louisiana, USA
French-American Fine Dining
Yountville, Napa, California, USA
Safari + Upscale African Cuisine
Sabi Sand Game Reserve, South Africa
Contemporary Japanese restaurant, sushi, & cocktail mixology
Dubai, UAE
Fine Indian and Pakistani Cuisine 
Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE
Contemporary, African-French Tasting Journey
Franschhoek, South Africa
Eclectic French-Asian Tasting Menu
Sydney, Australia
Top 10 American fine-dining ornate chophouse
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Posh and artful French cuisine + culinary experimentalism
Festival City, Dubai, UAE
Haute Gastronomique French restaurant & bistro
Bordeaux, France

So many great wines in this world, here are a few boutiques, cult wines, and favorites:


A 1756 Estate Famed Rubicon Blend
Stellenbosch, South Africa
Big, Bold, Cult Cabernets 
Oakville, California, USA
Boutique Producers of Pinot Noir
Willamette, Oregon
Agincourt, Waterloo, Salamanca
Yarra Valley, Australia
A Cru Bourgeois Supérieur
Cussac-Fort-Médoc, Bordeaux, France
Not Kehlsteinhaus, Exceptional Shiraz
Constantia, South Africa
Screaming Eagles Sister
Santa Barbara, California, USA
World Class Oregon Pinot Noir
Willamette, Oregon
20+ Blue Ridge Handcrafted Wines
Asheville, North Carolina, USA
Domaine Bertagna
13th Century Cistercian -1er Cru Les Cras
Vougeot, Burgundy, France






Reviewed by:
Sean Overpeck (CFE)
Executive Chef
Father, Husband, Wine Drinker
Restaurant nut, History and 
Star Trek lover


Picture below was taken at
Argyle Winery in 2015






About Sean:

I am based out of Florida working in food service for over twenty years, and am currently with the American Embassy as the Executive Chef. Formally I have worked with groups contracting in Afghanistan, and Antarctica, also working in restaurants in and around Atlanta, Georgia prior to the wars. I have also owned a catering company and served proudly in the United States Army Food Service Program. The idea for Wine, Dine, and Play started in late 2012 after a trip to Jordan, when I was asked by friends to write down my experiences from a few restaurants, wines I tasted, and unique locations such as Petra. Since that time, I have written over 350 articles, including fifteen from the worlds top 100 lists of San Pellegrino and the Elite Travelers Guide restaurants. I have articles on exotic world locations such as Victoria Falls, and South African Safari’s; food recipes & a Grand Food Dictionary; ethnic country cuisines such as Afghan, and Peruvian; tasting tours of world cities like Charleston, Cape Town, and Dubai; and of course wine from vineyards in California, Oregon, the Carolina’s, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia, with much more to see and write.

Who is John Galt?





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The Complete A to Z Food and Beverage Grand Dictionary If you're looking for it, then you found it
A Taste of McMurdo - 8 Months on the Ice Ross Island, Antarctica 
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Bordeaux - A Sip and Taste Wine tours and restaurants in Bordeaux, France
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Thanksgiving in Antarctica An American tradition with turkey and football at the bottom of the world
Netflix Movie Codes search for your favorites
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Clearwater Beach Taste Fest 2017 music, food, and wine near Pier 60, Clearwater Beach, Florida
Gourmet Wine Tours of South Africa A wine and food tour of Stellenbosch, South Africa
(Articles coming soon) 
Petra, Jordan
A Taste of Dubai 
A Taste of South Africa (multiple volumes)
Wine, Dine, And Play’s “best of”
FOB Shank - Cooking with Incoming




“Culinary perfection consists not in doing extraordinary things, 
But in doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”
-Angelique Arnauld (1591-1661)






TTFN




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