We all know that you shouldn’t go grocery shopping when hungry. With that in mind, hubs and I made our way to La Hacienda for a quick bite to settle our stomachs before we shopped the shelves of food. Out of all the Mexican restaurants in the area, we had never been here. Two of our friends make this their go-to Mexican restaurant, so we decided to give it a go. I’m sure I’m late to the table as I know this is a chain and all, but alas, we stepped into the colorful restaurant around 2:00 on a Sunday with images of queso and chips dancing in our head.s
After quickly being seated, greeted and our drink orders in, we placed our orders. Of course, we started off with some queso and tortilla chips. The death of me. I could keep eating and eating these things – which I do. I liked the queso, but it was because it was exactly what I expected out of the classic Mexican melted cheese. Nothing fancy, but it hit the spot. I also liked the fresh taste of the salsa. Quickly after we polished that off, our entrees showed up.
We both ordered some combination meals and the portions were quite large. I ordered number 22 (got to love numbered combos – do they show up anywhere else than Mexican restaurant menus?) – a combination that included a taco, tostaguac and chili relleno – with chicken. I had no idea what a tostaguac was, so I was looking forward to the surprise I had in store. The taco was crispy shelled, with marinated chicken all stuffed inside. The chicken was tender, having sat in a spicy sauce, and slightly messy. But, I really liked the cumin and chili spices I was getting with every bite. The shredded cheese and iceberg lettuce freshened up the taste, completing the flavors that I craved. The tostaguac, as I discovered, was a tostada with guacamole. I had an ‘a-ha’ moment – it seemed like a no brainer. But, it was exactly the same flavors of the taco with an added spoonful of guacamole. It was creamy, but I would have preferred more cilantro and spice to compliment it. I also prefer mine to be a bit more chunky in texture – I guess I could have gone without it. The biggest surprise for me was the chili relleno. Normally, I receive a whole fried poblano stuffed with creamy goodness. Instead, this was an odd globe of similar flavors. It had an exterior of crispness, but not the typical fried shell. Inside, more of a tamale texture of cheese and diced pieces of chilis. It wasn’t what I was looking for in regards to flavor, texture and design; I probably wouldn’t order it again. But I did like the other portions – even if I only ate about 1/3 of my plate.
La Hacienda fit what I was looking for. Hubs got a red enchilada sauce plate of a few different things – of course all tasting similar because of the red sauce that was ladled all over it. He wasn’t expecting that either, so a few more surprises I guess. The decor was bright – brightly painted chairs and booth boards – and the service was fast and efficient. Overall, a good solid Mexican food experience. It will satisfy the craving when I’m looking for something close to home as it is one of the better ‘cheap’ Mexican places in the area.
La Hacienda * 12237 N. Meridian * Carmel, 46032 * 317.566.9563