The Hacienda on San Pablo Avenue has a monolith-like presence a monument to 50s Mexican-American dining, a living monument (barely). There are rarely more than a half dozen cars in the lot
on a busy day.
I was intrigued by an excellent homage on the blog MeatHenge (link below) and a mega-banner reading:
Lunch $4.99 Monday Friday
That means they serve steak dinners. Not that there is a $4.99 steak lunch
This is a substantial lunch that includes:
Large basket of thin chips with two bowls of salsa (mild & hot)
Choice of soup or salad
Choice of Mexican plate (various combinations of tamales, tacos, enchiladas, chile rellenos) with refried beans and rice
While it wasnt world class food, it was satisfying and a good sit down. Id spend more at Taco Bell and would have to eat in the car ... and they don't serve tequila sunrises.
The chips were not hot, but thin and tasted like they were fried in lard. The mild tomato salsa was thick pureed tomato and the hot tomato sauce had chopped onions and jalapeños mixed in.
Chicken soup is house made and has a deep chickeny broth and the noodles tasted like those in canned soup. The salad comes with a house made dressing and a group of older ladies were begging the waitress to get the recipe. They were customers since childhood and loved that dressing.
For a minimal surcharge I added a tamale to the taco / chile relleno plate. The chile relleno was the best choice. The taco was a thin shelled hard taco with ground beef, topped with salsa and shredded cheese similar to Taco Bell. Tamales are made ever other day. They are filled with shredded beef. I prefer the moister Central American tamales to the Mexican versions served here.
The rice was very good, the type that is cooked in chicken broth. Refried beans were standard.
This is first generation Mexican American. I doubt little has changed since the restaurant opened which Im guessing was in the 50s. In fact, the food has a look of a picture out of a Betty Crocker Cookbook of that era. One of the drink specials was a Tequila Sunrise. I had college flashbacks.
I ordered the flan for dessert and the waitress made a detour to finish the dessert with a maraschino cherry. I regressed from college to being six again. Oh boy, dessert with a cherry on top. It was a decent basic flan. Other desserts: tapioca, jello, and pudding filed cream puffs. Ill bet the all have cherries on top.
Besides the lunching ladies, two Latino guys stopped by for the Mexican pizza and some bean dip. There was some take out orders. Searching the web, it seems to host dinners for the Lions club, League of Woman voters and other such groups. Definitely no trouble booking space here.
Its pretty basic Mexican American fare tacos, quesadillas, nachos (shrimp added), guacamole, burritos, tamales, enchiladas and tostadas. The variation is the filling: avocado, chicken, beef, cheese and bean. The enchiladas especial are topped with a fried egg. There are also huevos rancheros. The items that say cream, like cream enchiladas mean they have sour cream on top.
There are fajitas, a few variations on steak, chicken (regular or Mexican in the enchilada sauce), sole (plain or with peppers), and lamb cabrito (marinated in burgancy wine & spices).
I passed on the tequila sunrise and decided to try the margarita. No worry about drunk driving with this drink. It came in a classic margarita glass. Id say my $4.99 was well spent to be able to step into the wayback machine and take the little trip back to the 50s. Also. I dont have to wonder about it anymore as I drive by.
12020 San Pablo Ave
Richmond, CA 94805-2496
P.S. The postcards of the restaurant (pic below courtesy of MeatHenge) are still available next to the register.