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poor at best

la hacienda michoacano, Pheonixville, PA...

Went there tonight.. was there @ 5p.. not a very busy time.. food adequate.. prices steep.. presentation unimaginative, service VERY POOR.. tables never cleared.. order messed up.. check took 15minutes to come out after requesting it MULTIPLE TIMES from multiple people.. and no manager around? spent $150.00.. and did not feel as if it was worth 1/2 that amount.. would NEVER step through the doors again.. or advise anyone to visit this establishment.. (oh and by the way, I never complain about restaurants, having once been in the industry myself)

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  1. What did you order?

    1 Reply
    1. re: cwdonald

      We had a variety of foods that are of usual Mexican restaurant fare.. carnitas, carne asada, enchiladas (seafood), steak nachos, quesadillas, and soups.. most of it was pretty bland.. definitely overpriced for the quality...

    2. That is a shame Iccrna. I don't generally get out that way but thanks for the heads up. My over the top bad restaurant experiences have happened with no manager around too. And I have worked in the industry as well so I rarely complain. No manager at five pm on saturday of a holiday weekend yet is inexcusable.

      1. Must be hit or miss. I was there a few nights ago and has a good meal. Agree it's overpriced. Our service was very attentive. The three complimentary salsas were above average although I didn't necessarily like the thick chips. I had a very spicy and smoky shrimp a la diabla - it was very good. Husband had the enfrijoladas - substituted standard filling for carnitas & extra spicy he was happy. Margaritas were good, overpriced as well...got to pay for that PHXV rent somehow.

        2 Replies
        1. re: yummykimmy

          Yes the wide variance between reviews does suggest an expensive hit or miss. I have been looking forward to another Mexican option. However I will await other reviews before I will expose my wallet to a potentially expensive miss with poor service. It would be interesting to compare a second review by Kimmy with her first one. If you visit again, Kimmy, we look forward to your comments.

          1. re: Bacchus101

            Almost a year later....an update - have been a few more times....overall I think it is too expensive for the quality. I do like the Jalapeno Margarita and the chips and salsaS, but the entrees are ok. Service has been terrible at subsequent visits. I don't get it. It's not hard. Better food and more bang for your buck at El Burrito (BYO) right down the street.

        2. PS it's Hacienda La Michoacana

          14 Replies
          1. re: yummykimmy

            Thanks for the update. Seem as if your first review is basically confirmed,poor at best. Expensive Mexican food is almost or should be a bit of an oxymoron. In some restaurants with very good service, a grand venue and upgraded ingredients perhaps a higher price can be justified for Mexican food.

            1. re: Bacchus101

              I'm pretty disgusted with the PA/DE options for Mexican food. Greasy/slimy sauces. Crappy cuts of meat. Wretched service.

              I understand that many mexican cuisines are born out of poverty. And lousy greasy meat is authentic as hell, but I have no intention of eating it.

              Having said that I love the flavors. Mexican chorizo is a beautiful thing.

              Why can't some eager young chef do a Garces on Mexican food?

              1. re: sal_acid

                You mean like Distrito?

                1. re: sal_acid

                  Well you have both Cantina Felix and Calaca Feliz from Tim Spinner that meat that criteria. I also am fond of Los Sarapes in Chalfont and El Serape in Blue Bell, (there may be a third in Horsham). Even El Limon in Conshohocken is a very good restaurant.

                  Also in Kennett Square there are a number of real mexican restaurants so I would say you need to look a bit harder. Its not just chi chis anymore.

                  1. re: cwdonald

                    I live near Kennett and I'm unimpressed with what we have here, including Moroleone which is popular and praised and not cheap. For these prices they can't do better?

                    The problem is, as you say, these are real Mexican restaurants. Run by real Mexicans, eating what poorer people eat at home.

                    Obviously there are good ones out there, like Distrito, where a trained chef takes on the cuisine and does it well, but in my part of the world they are rare.

                    1. re: sal_acid

                      "The problem is, as you say, these are real Mexican restaurants. Run by real Mexicans, eating what poorer people eat at home. "
                      true, though you can say that about a lot of classic french food as well.

                      1. re: Bob Loblaw

                        The French "do poor" better.

                  2. re: sal_acid

                    I find I have a problem with local Mexican also. Although I must say that in recent years the quality and choice in the Philadelphia SMSA has been improving. Could be a memory trick but I recall even "just average restaurants" in CA serving much better Mexican food. Actually I am not sure I would really even know what good Mexican food is beyond what I like, which I fear may be a bit pedestrian.

                    1. re: Bacchus101

                      I can't speak to CA, but in Houston the average mexican place is much much better. A local Houston chain, Ninfa's, manages to have stuff I am happy to eat. BTW Ninfa's claims to have invented the fajita. So they have that going for them.

                      I too may have no idea what authentic Mexican food is. But I don't trust the presence of Mexicans at a restaurant as proof of anything; any more than truckers at a diner or cops at a doughnut shop means much.

                      1. re: Bacchus101

                        What is SMSA?

                        In the city there are several good Mexican restaurants serving traditional dishes but using good technique and ingredients like Las Bugambilias (my favorite in this style), Xochitl, El Rey, Tequilas. Also more modern or fusiony takes on Mexican like Distrito, Cantina, Calaca Feliz. And of course many taquerias and trucks run by Mexican and Central American immigrants, these can vary a lot in quality of ingredients and technique.

                        One thing about Mexican food is that it can vary a lot by region so what someone is used to as "authentic" in Cali, Texas, the southwest etc may be very different than what is "authentic" up here due to the makeup of the immigrant population. I hear people complaining about not finding "real" Mexican food when really what is something in the style of what they are used to from elsewhere. Sometimes they don't even mean Mexican at all, but Tex-Mex. I'm not accusing you of this sal, but to take your example, if a Houston chain claims to have invented whatever style of fajita you are looking for, it shouldn't be surprising that the immigrant population from Central American up here doesn't know how to make that well. They may not have ever even heard of a fajita before they moved to the US. Or even the gringo population, it's similar to trying to find a great cheesesteak in Houston I would imagine. Same goes for Cali transplants ordering burritos at a tacqueria and being disappointed, the style of burrito they are used to in Cali was invented there and the cooks here don't know how to make it well (they are a couple exceptions but as a rule the taquerias in Philly have pretty poor attempts at a Cali style burrito).

                        Of course all that doesn't mean you shouldn't keep looking for what you like and calling out places that aren't up to snuff, but it may be worth pausing before slamming a place for not serving the type of cuisine you are seeking. I do think those looking for border-style Mexican food should check out Las Bugambilias as they have some of these dishes on the menu and do them very well.

                        1. re: barryg

                          My point, clearly not well delivered, is that problem is not a matter of what state of Mexico the cook comes from, or the regional style, but the quality of the food used and the presentation of whatever he cooks.

                          Of course there are regional differences. But gristle is gristle, and chewy overcooked meat is chewy overcooked meat, and greasy is greasy...no matter what the style of cooking.

                          The Houston place I mentioned is OK because the meat isn't overcooked gristle etc. etc. Style-wise it differs very little from what's up here. But they don't use crap meat and apparently understand how to cook.

                          So I'm not "slamming the place for not serving the type of cuisine I'm looking for". I'm saying that they suck for doing what they choose to do badly. They could use better stuff... they choose not to.

                          BTW, I found it amusing and highly doubtful that Ninfa's claims to have invented the fajita. Subtlety is lost in this medium.

                          1. re: sal_acid

                            Ok I understand and I agree about the poor ingredients, I have encountered this at many taquerias in the city. Unlike what you describe however, these places are almost always very inexpensive and the more expensive places generally use better ingredients.

                            However, I still think it's important to understand that someone who never ate a fajita before and puts it on the menu due to customer demand without really learning how to cook it is more likely to use meats and ingredients that are more suited for other dishes and cooking techniques. That doesn't excuse poor preparation, and no restaurant should be serving dishes they don't know how to make well, but it also doesn't mean that there aren't dishes on the menu that could be much better. That seems to be the case for many ethnic restaurants in the US, like the Chinese places in Chinatown that make some fantastic dishes of a particular cuisine but still have a menu full of Chinese-American dishes which they do a terrible job with. If you go into somewhere like that and order chicken with garlic sauce and an eggroll, it's going to suck, but the same place may make the best Sichuan-style dry chicken in the city. It's also definitely true for the Mexican taquerias in South Philly which like I said may make a horrible burrito but turn out a banging taco lengua.

                            Of course the place you describe may very well just be a crappy overpriced restaurant, of which they seem to be a lot of in the 'burbs for some reason.

                            1. re: barryg

                              Good point about Chinese food. Pretty much exactly the same problem.

                          2. re: barryg

                            What is SMSA?

                            The SMSA anagram does represent a wide variety of things. My use was Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area. Simply put an economic dependent region surrounding a significantly populated city or cities. Others include but are not limited to:

                            **** SMSA National Association of State Motorcycle Safety Administrators
                            * SMSA Sheffield Malaysian Students Association (UK)
                            * SMSA Smoky Mountain Soaring Association (aviation)
                            * SMSA Suomen Murteiden Sana-Arkisto (Finnish)
                            * SMSA Singapore Malaysian Student Association

                            Seems the remainder of your comments in the same post were directed toward sal acid and already addressed.

                  3. sounds as if diner: should hav dashed. :0

                    1. The sister restaurant, Taqueria Michoacana, in Norristown, is a better bet. We have been going there for years. Many Mexican patrons, which leads me to believe it is somewhat authentic, and my SIL's Mexican-born father loves it.