Hacienda Mexican Grill in Salinas
Hacienda Mexican Grill opened this summer, taking over a former Chevy’s. Much of the original interior remains, including the equipment cranking out flour tortillas in the center of the restaurant.
Our first visit was in June when the place had been open for a month. Full on a Sunday evening, service was scattered and our server did not know the menu. Chips and salsa were the highlight, and oddly the second basket of chips and salsa refill were completely different than the first.
Cheese enchilada, a la carte, $3.99 – Not bad, sauce tasted like housemade rather than canned. I liked it more than Mom did.
Shrimp fajita salad, $13.28 (including supplement for shrimp) – Right out of the Chevy’s play book. Somewhat overdressed but that’s how my brother likes it. Fried tortilla chips not as crispy as the table chips, slices of ripe avocado, shrimp grilled perfectly on point with a kiss of smoke from the mesquite grill.
Shrimp and crab enchiladas with habanero-pesto cream sauce, $12.99 – Another Chevy’s hold-over and not bad. Fresh tasting seafood stuffing though the crab was on the dry side, safe level of spicy heat on the sauce. Sweet corn tamalito on the side was too stiff.
Next visit in July, I had wanted to order the mesquite grilled whole fish shown on the menu. But when I asked what type of fish it might be, I learned that it’s a boneless hunk of mahi mahi, not a whole fish.
Grilled fish taco, $4.95 – Battered and grilled mahi mahi was cooked just right. Dressed with tomato, soggy lettuce, and crema, the taco was sopping wet.
Chicken en mole, $12.95 – Chicken hind quarter on the bone smothered with a rustic mole negro rich with chocolate, spices and nuts. Average refritos, dried out rice. Not nearly as good as the black mole at Paloma’s.
My brother was smart and ordered the shrimp fajita salad again with the same result, right down to the non-crispy, tough tortilla strips.
The restaurant’s opening PR emphasized that it would feature traditional, authentic Mexican food not commonly found in restaurants. One friend who had eaten here with friends of the owners said that the kitchen sent out many homestyle dishes for their party to try. She had encouraged them give the staff free rein to serve these to the public, but unfortunately, these have not found their way to the menu. The mesquite grill does give the kitchen an extra tool and a leg up for adding complexity to the dishes. Other than that, the food seems to be not much better than served by its predecessor, Chevy’s, or the many other Mexican restaurants in town.
Hacienda Mexican Grill
1449 N Davis Rd
Salinas, CA 93907