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La Hacienda

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My wife and I went to La Hacienda meat market for tacos at lunch today, and enjoyed yet another great recommendation from this board. The place is a supermarket, but has a large eat-in area in the front with four booths and about 8 counter stools. I'm glad someone previously described the ordering method or I would have been completely lost. You go to the cashier first and tell them what you want to order and pay. They then print a ticket, which you hand to the women behind the counter and they'll make your tacos. Even with the printed ticket, there seemed to be some confusion about what kind of tacos I'd ordered, but it worked out in the end. The counter ladies seemed to speak no English, but the cashier was fluent. We were there mainly for the carnitas, but couldn't resist the barbacoa. Compared to my favorite carnitas tacos at Angie's, this carnitas was much moister. The fat/lean ratio was probably close to 50/50. I felt like it was softer, with almost no crispy bits, but with fantastic pork fat flavor. I still prefer the drier, crispier, version at Angies, though I don't know if I can separate my love for their corn tortillas from the taco as a whole. Note that MPH previously described LH's carnitas as dry and crispy, so maybe the product varies. I thought the barbacoa was the better meat today. It was very very juicy and tender and had some interesting spices that we couldn't put our finger on.

The tortillas were no Angie's tortillas, but they were good quality packaged tortillas.

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  1. I'm glad you enjoyed La Hacienda's carnitas, Brian. They don't do the carnitas that are sugared up with Dr. Pepper, Coca-Cola, sugar, and/or citrus fruit. Instead, they're one of very few places in town that do traditional carnitas. The preparation involves slow-simmering pieces of pork in lard and a bit of water (or milk), seasoning it with subtle spices (orange peel, oregano, cumin, thyme bay leaves, garlic), then frying it in some of the rendered pork fat. It's like a delicious pork confit.

    La Hacienda's delightfully fatty pork is ideally crispy on the outside and meltingly moist and tender on the inside. I have a theory that when the meat has been sitting out for a while, it can become soft, and almost translucent, because the fat has been absorbed into the formerly crisp meat. The great part about ordering it by the pound is that you can take it home and crisp it up in the oven while, at the same time, rendering yourself some pork fat for general use in the kitchen.

    I have one possible ordering tip. This "General Chowhounding Topics" thread on the "Cuisine of Michoacán or Zactatecas" (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/335325 ) suggests ordering specific parts of meat at places that cook the whole hog, as it were. Possible requests include mezcla or surtido [mixed], maciza [the "prime" pieces, like shoulder/loin—which can be dry in U.S.-bred pork], and costillas [the fatty ribs]. I don't remember which cuts they sell at La Hacienda, but there should be plenty to choose from. You could also try requesting cuerito [little skin leather], which should at least get you plenty of the crispy pork skin.

    Thanks, too, for the report on the barbacoa. Your description makes me want to try it again soon.

    1. Has anyone tried the La Hacienda off Peyton Gin/183? Are they comparable? I'll try and try it out sometime.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Carter B.

        That's what I thought they were talking about. Is this the one on E. Riverside?
        I'd also like to hear where your other favorites for carnitas are MPH. I like Habenero,El Meson(when on special), El Reconsito, Mi Ranchito,La Moreliano(WCannon). I can't seem to get enough of fatty pork lately.

        1. re: crippstom

          You should follow the MPH/scrumptiouschef road over to La Pulga on Sat/Sun. If there's one dish in abundance, it's carnitas, and there's plenty of room in Part 13 for vetting the fare. Hope to see you there next weekend.

          1. re: Twill

            Thank you Twill. I'm in.

            1. re: crippstom

              I went to La Pulga today and had 2 carnitas tacos at a trailer called "Caliente..." that were excellent. Double corn(packaged)tortilla fried in oil w/fresh not too fatty pork w/pico onions cilantro and cotija cheese. Red and green salsa. Fresh and hot. Next stop. La Hacienda.

              1. re: crippstom

                Hi crippstom,

                I didn't see your earlier question until today. I'd have to say that my favorite so far has been the version of carnitas at La Hacienda. Places that specialize in just carnitas usually offer the style that I like; thus, I imagine that another Mexican meat-market would be a good choice, too. I do want to try the version at Angie's sometime soon, but I'm still working my way north on the east side.

                I also vaguely recall liking the carnitas at La Monita on East 7th and at the taco truck El Taquito on East Riverside. I can't recall ordering carnitas at either El Mesón Taquería or Habañero Mexican Cafe, but I very much like other items on their menus.

                If you love roast pork, by the way, you should head right over to Saigon Market:

                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/42637...

                When you make your order, you can even indicate which part of the hog you want. Be sure to get a portion that comes with plenty of fried skin. It's additively delicious.

                Best,
                MPH

                1. re: MPH

                  MPH,
                  When you make it to Angie's a couple of suggestions...
                  Try to avoid the day (I think it is Thursday) when carintas are the lunch special. I find them less crispy on those days. Also, there is a difference between the carnitas and carintas tacos. The carintas are served with a side of tortillas where as the carnitas tacos come in a corn tortillas that has been lightly fried. I much prefer the carnitas tacos.
                  Enjoy.