Looking for authentic Mexican street food? Habanero Mexican Street Food deliver delicious cooked pulled pork (cochinita pibil), suadero (pulled beef) and all the fixings for tacos as well as Mexican desserts like flan, impossible cake and tres leches!
Habanero is owned by Tonatiuh and Yatzel Illescas and started during the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 when they both had different jobs; she was working in retail and he was a student and removalist. Tonatiuh says, "When the lockdown hit Sydney, we both were sent home without pay. We panicked a bit. It was hard not only for us, of course, but I think it was an uncertainty going around for people with a temporary visa. Without any monetary help and bills, visas and studies to pay. Many people went back home, but we decided to stay and fight." Their background was in engineering so starting a food business was an enormous challenge.
"That day, my husband cooked "cochinita pibil" for us as a treat and as comfort food for me. We talked to a friend Fernanda and she not only made the first order but brought 6 more customers. For our first weekend we sold 6kg. After that, the orders went up each week as people started to like it and spread word of mouth. At that time, we divided the deliveries, my husband, by bicycle and public transport and me, with the help of a dear friend, Christina, by car," says Tonatiuh.
Orders are placed from Sunday to Thursday for delivery on Saturdays and they deliver up to 5kms from Zetland and pick up is also available. The meats are sold in half kilo or kilo quantities so I split my entire order with Monica. I also recommend ordering all the sides like the guacamole and the pickled red onions (these come with the pork) and the sopesitos come with refried beans and hot salsa. That day they sent through a helpful video on how to serve the cochinita pibil. I'd recommend also having some limes, fresh onion, coriander and cheese handy to add to the tortillas.
While most things require heating up in the microwave or in a frying pan, the sopesitos do require deep frying. Habanero are on hand to answer a lot of questions on how to serve things and I ended up exchanging quite a few messages with them so be prepared for a bit of preparation especially if you basically buy the whole menu as we did. I ended up making a few things with the cochinita pibil like tacos with the as well as making a cochinita sandwich with toasted tortillas, cheese, cochinita and pickled onions too.
"Our pulled pork is called "Cochinita Pibil". Its origin came from the prehispanic period in the Yucatán peninsula, where Mayans prepared deer or pheasant in an underground oven called "pib". When the Spanish brought pork into Mexico, the recipe changed, giving birth to what we know as "cochinita"-pork "pibil"-an underground oven. Our cochinita style comes from the street food in Mexico City," explains Tonatiuh. The pork is slow-cooked and marinated in orange, annatto, cumin and guajillo chillies. You serve it in a corn tortilla and garnished with pink pickled onions with habanero chilli. It has a delicious, rich flavour to it and is so versatile and different from other pulled porks. We bought blue corn tortillas ($6) and topped them with the pulled pork and red onions.
Tacos are fantastic with the beef suadero. "Suadero is considered the representative taco of Mexico City. We believe it's really the only place in Mexico where we eat it and love it. It is made with a beef cut called "Suadero" in Mexico. Its closest cousin would be brisket or flank. It's also slow-cooked in its own juices with garlic, onion and other herbs. It is served in a corn tortilla and garnished with chopped onion, coriander and salsa of your preference (red or green). The representation of street city taco," says Tonatiuh. The beef is a bit more mild in flavour compared to the pork but has a nice, melting texture.
Masa or maize corn dough is the basis for quite a few Mexican recipes like sopesitos and gorditas where nixtamalized corn is dried into a flour and then reconstituted with water to form a dough. The sopesitos are a crispy little masa corn vessel that you can add toppings to and need to be deep fried until crispy. "Sopesitos are like a thick corn tortilla with a border around the edges. This border serves to contain different toppings. They are deep-fried, usually with a base of refried beans, and on top of that, anything from shredded chicken, suadero, cochinita, or cheese. Of course, topped with Mexican salsa, pretty much everything goes with salsa or some kind of chilli," says Tonatiuh. You definitely want the refried beans layer and then you add beef or pork on top with salsa and pickled onions.
We ordered the mixed mini gorditas and these are one of my favourite things. These corn masa pockets are eaten by hand and come with two fillings: ricotta and tasty cheese (blue ones) and crispy pork belly or chicharron gorditas (yellow ones). "Gorditas are something similar to an Arepa but made with white corn, not yellow," explains Tonatiuh. You heat them in a frying pan and can split them open and fill them with coriander and onion or guacamole or even sliced avocado and pickled red onions but above all use the salsa on these.
The impossible cake is by another Mexican business Maria Bonita. It's called an impossible cake because the topping is flan and the bottom is chocolate cake and the whole process is done as if by magic in the oven as the cake batter separates into the two layers. It's an enormous cake and could easily serve 12 people.
"We think food helps break barriers, brings hope and happiness, and brings everyone together. That's why we decided to keep going. If we can share our love and culture through food, then it's worth it!" says Tonatiuh adding, "As more authentic Mexican food places are opening, people can differentiate Tex-Mex from Mexican food. This has opened many doors to all of us, wanting to show Mexico's true colours and flavours."
So tell me Dear Reader, have you tried sopesitos or gorditas? Do you have a favourite taco filling?
This meal was independently paid for.