The Latin Tongue: Taqueria La Hacienda

Another week, another new take on Mexican food. This time we stumbled upon a Latin eatery called Taqueria La Hacienda. Situated awkwardly off of Lake street, it seems like the type of location that screams hole-in-the-wall. However, for the first time, we were welcomed with a restaurant that certainly had something new in this Latin eating adventure: a budget. 


Taqueria La Hacienda, it turns out is a local chain with three locations: the original on Lake street, a taco stand in the Mercado Central (Lake and Bloomington) and a spot in Burnsville. Not only do they have three locations, but they obviously have some money invested in their business as evidenced by their nice website, video menu screen and nice decor. 


Although we try in theory to explore those places that are small and singular, once we smell Mexican food, there is no turning back. Plus, perhaps we would learn something. 


For the first time perhaps, we were not overwhelmed by a menu. Sure, they have ample meat options as many Mexican restaurants do. However, their menu only has about eight options. We stepped up to the counter to ask the woman working for her favorite items (as per our ground rules laid out in our intro article about this series in Latin eating). 


She recommended the quesadilla al pastor (pictured above), which makes good sense. You would hope that someone would recommend the al pastor when your logo is, "The House of Authentic Tacos al Pastor." You could see the vertical rotisserie behind the counter with the pinkish meat rotating on it, topped with fresh pineapple. She also thought highly of the torta with one of the breaded meat options--we chose the chicken or Milanesa de Pollo. We added to this the necessary tacos, one with barbacoa, one with tripa and another with cecina. They have no tamales, so we went without. Arrrgh!


We took our seat and waited to hear our number called, which they do in Espanol, so be prepared for that. If you don't know what veinte nueve is, for example, you might end up going up to the counter every time a number is called to see if it looks like your order. As we listened intently for 29 to be called we watched as the place filled up with an interesting mix of patrons, including a number of employees from the nearby Well Fargo building. The place was definitely busy around lunch time.


When we picked up our food, we remembered to ask for extra salsa and jalapenos. They were glad to give us these nice extras. At first glance, the food looked good. Really good. Almost too good. There seemed to be an extra polish to everything in this place, evidence surely of a plan and well-researched and refined recipes.


I always start with the tacos and was well pleased with the barbacoa. It was well seasoned with a good amount of sauciness, while not being greasy at all. It had a nice citrusy quality that I enjoyed. The tripe was breaded and had a nice char to it from the grill, something quite unique. Everywhere we try tripe, they have their own take and this one was extremely easy to eat and flavorful. The cecina (pronounced sayseena) was a first for us. It is a thinly sliced, salted steak, similar to carne asada. I really liked how finely it was chopped and how well seasoned it was. Plus, it was not as chewy as many "steak" tacos we have tried.


As I was working my way through the tacos, Charles was in the middle of a greasy quesadilla mess, and he looked pleased. It was our first quesadilla, but it served its purpose of being a brilliant combination of greasy, cheesy and delicious. The pastor was quite phenomenal and made this what Charles described as, "comforting like a good cheeseburger". I agreed. It was one of those easy to eat foods that satisfy a hungry appetite, a picky child and a tipsy wanderer late at night. (They are open until midnight M-Th and 24 hours! on Fri, Sat, Sun)


TortaTortaThe torta followed along with the comfort food theme, but on a larger scale. Take all of the normal torta toppings--guacamole, refried beans, cheese, lettuce, pickled jalapenos, mayo and add richly breaded chicken breast--and you have an easy-to-eat sandwich that you could have over and over again.


As we reflected and talked about the food, we kept coming back to the aforementioned theme of refinement. It is an interesting idea that after all of the small, quirky Latin establishments we have been to, we kept feeling that we were missing something. Obviously, the food at Taqueria la Hacienda wasn't bad. On the contrary, it was excellent. But it was without any real surprises or curiosities. It was just really good, well-honed food. I suppose that this in itself was a surprise, as we had gotten used to the air of mystery surrounding a dish that most likely would be different every time you ordered it.


In the end, the quesadilla was memorable for what it was and I have a feeling that I would have a hard time not ordering one the next time I stop by. However, the tacos were truly to be recommended as the meats here are very well done. Escpecially the tripe. If you have never had tripa, this might be the place to get started. 


Here are the details:

Taqueria La Hacienda

334 E Lake St, Minneapolis


Hours: M-Thurs, 8 am-midnight. Fri-Sun, 24 hours

Prices:The torta is a handful...or two.The torta is a handful...or two.

Tacos, $2

Burritos, $7.5

Platillos (meat, beans, rice, tortillas), $7

Tortas, $7.5

Quesadillas, $7.5

Alambres, $8

Sincronizadas, $5.5

Soup on weekends

Surprise: Quite refined and open 24 hours Friday-Sunday.

Payment: Cash or credit

Language: Menu is easy, workers are a bit hit and miss, but no real challenge other than the number calling.



Lawrence Black is a writer and editor at Simple, Good and Tasty.  He can be reached at He has lately been consuming large quantities of hot peppers, so it may be advisable to stay at least three feet away...unless you are cold.