Sunday, May 3, 2009

La Hacienda


Finally I am getting around to reviewing La Hacienda which I have mentioned several times in other reviews. This is a place that is close to my house (although they have several locations around Indy) and when we first moved to Indy we used to take the kids there all the time because, well my son was really young, the service is remarkably fast, and they didn’t seem to mind that we made an enormous mess. And you gotta love a Mexican restaurant in an old Waffle House (they have recently done a more major facelift on the inside, but in the beginning, it looked a lot like a Waffle House inside (and still does on the outside). And I also love that the sign out front still says, “Now Open Special” even after 3 years. And hey, the margaritas are good and so is the food.

Anyway, I wanted to do a fresh visit and review since we haven’t been in awhile (we have ventured into other places now that my kids are a bit older). They instantly bring you the chips and salsa—I really like their salsa, not super spicy or anything, but still fresh and tasty. The chips aren’t bad either. The kids always want guacamole and sour cream to dip into as well, so we ordered that with the chips too. Ok, the guacamole is not the big chunky kind that is my preference; it is the sort of uniform smooth style you get in a lot of the more casual, cheap Mexican places. But the thing is, you can still tell that it is actually derived from avocadoes at some point. There are some little recognizable bits and the flavor is of avocadoes. I can’t say they make it in house, I have no idea and if I had to guess I would say they probably don’t, but for what it is, it still isn’t bad.

I did order something that I have had a few times before, the soft shrimp chimichangas. Soft, meaning they are not deep fried. Ok, they aren’t the most exciting thing in the world, flour tortillas with large grilled prawns and red sauce, lettuce and tomato on top, but their shrimp is some of the best shrimp in a Mexican place I have had (and in many restaurants around here for that matter). They don’t overcook it, it is a good size and has great grilled flavor. La Hacienda is one of those places where they have 4-5 basic meat ingredients that are used in about 150 different dishes, but if you find a meat you like (I also like the chicken used in many of the dishes), you can pretty much be guaranteed you will like your dish. The beans and rice are also very good here (this is the only Mexican place where I bother with any rice; usually I think Spanish rice is just a waste of calories).

Hubby had the pork carnitas—this is probably one of Hacienda’s best dishes. The pork is done very well—nice crispy edges but also good flavor and the pico di gallo is fresh and really tasty, as is the hotter salsa that comes alongside the pico di gallo. Hubby has decided now that we don’t come as often, this is probably the only thing he will order there from now on.

My favorite things here by far though are the Texas margaritas. Hubby and I usually split a small pitcher, and what always cracks me up is that they bring you the pitcher and the two glasses and the pitcher is always full and the 2 glasses are always half full. If you go with more people, no matter how many people share a pitcher (large or small), they always bring you the glasses already half full. Not sure how this happens every time, but I think you could order 15 glasses and one pitcher and they would probably always bring you 15 half full glasses as well as the full pitcher. Not that I’m complaining mind you, I just find it humorous.

Anyway, I could happily sit and just eat the chips and salsa and margaritas, but the rest of the food is pretty good too. And the service is so fast, you can hardly believe it, but at least when the place is on a wait to get a table, you know you won’t be waiting long!

La Hacienda (various locations)
6825 Graham Road
Indy 46220
317-577-2689

8 comments:

  1. laha is servicable at best. with such a thriving latino population the little mom & pop shops offer a much more authentic Mexican fare... laha is just another kit restaurant, defintitely above average for a kit though...

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  2. bhorg, by all means, share with us your favorite mom and pops...I'm all for something new..

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  3. go to Carniceria Guanajuato at 3110 N Shadeland Ave. Best tacos in Indy, although its not really "mom and pop" per se...

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  4. I've been to La Hacienda twice. Both times were disastrous. Maybe we went on off days. But it seemed geared towards the burrito and white flour tortilla crowd.

    Try El Rincon Jarocho (4364 N Franklin Road). During the summer they serve wonderful squash blossom quesadillas served on homemade corn tortillas and they have refreshing agua frescas.

    It's a hole in the wall. So there is no ambience.

    -Disgruntled Foodie

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  5. Disgruntled:
    Ya, that place is on my list. My list is enormous though so it seems to take me a while to get to anything!

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  6. I'd hardly call El Rincon Jarocho a massive upgrade over La Hacienda. I've eaten at El Rincon a half dozen times for lunch, and it's decent but nothing mind-blowing. It's just your standard taqueria, slightly tidier than most.

    Tortas, quesadillas, tacos, burritos on the menu, and all the other usual suspects like carne asada. Muy auténtico with the telenovelas on the TV blaring non-stop at 100dbs and the vanishing waitress.

    A nice touch is that they serve chips and salsa gratis, and give you a free amuse of shrimp stock with pasta. You certainly get a lot for your money, but the food isn't anything spectacular - but at these prices I don't expect Adobo Grill quality.

    I'd say approach El Rincon as you would La Hacienda. You'll definitely get more ambiance at La Hacienda. Come in with reasonable expectations and you'll leave satisfied.

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  7. By the way, I would only recommend El Rincon for a weekend lunch as it is a hole-in-the-wall. It's not somewhere I would want to sit for a long time and enjoy a meal. Weekends are also when they offer the more unusual stuff.

    And if you're looking for some of the more interesting fare they have to offer, it is listed on a chalkboard by the cashier. It is not on the normal menu.

    It also helps to speak a little Spanish even though the waitresses all speak some English as I've seen them push Hoosiers towards the more basic foods. It also helps to be insistent as I've seen the waitresses push Hoosiers towards their milkshake as opposed to their agua fresca. And I've had them tell me that they didn't have the octopus appetizer until I insisted that I had seen it at another table.

    I can't blame them as I've seen Hoosiers complain when they got a quesadilla on a homemade corn tortilla instead of a flour one. I've also seen Hoosiers complain that a sauce was too hot and that the tamales weren't normal as the tamales they normally get at other places are drowning in sauce. So I understand their point of view.

    One more thing...is the La Hacienda on Keystone that much better than the one on Lafayette?

    -D. Foodie

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  8. We eat at the La Ha near 38th & Lafayette regularly and have a set list of favorites— pollo fundido, enchiladas verdes, and golden enchiladas mostly—plus a few other items sprinkled in occasionally—nachos Hacienda, other burrito options, and talked-about-more-than-actually-chosen chicken soup. I've been eating there for years since a friend introduced me to it, and she loved it for the Texas margaritas. I'm not a drinker but The Huz will have a margarita once in a while, more often a Mexican beer on tap. I've never gotten something there that wasn't delicious.


    We've eaten at Puerta Vallarta (56th & Lafayette) many times and, while their food is good too, service is inconsistent at best (but usually terrible) and prices are higher. The salsa is not as good as La Ha's either.

    Incidentally, the management recently changed at that location. The menu lists a few addresses, including the one above, so I assume it's being run by the people that run your regular spot. I've only eaten there once since the change and that particular experience wasn't overly pleasant—all but one of the waitstaff are different & service wasn't good. I'm sure we'll give it another chance but in the meantime we're trying out other restaurants to see if there's one we might prefer as a go-to. Westside Indy *does not* lack options for Mexican/South American fare.

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