Some really good ethnic food goes untried and unappreciated because it is served in places that are outside our comfort zone. An adventurous diner is usually identified as someone willing to try exotic foods. It can also be someone who is willing to venture into a neighborhood or atmosphere that at first appears unwelcoming.
La Hacienda Meat Market y Taqueria may give that impression to non-Spanish speaking people who approach its storefront location at the corner of Aloma Avenue and Semoran Boulevard in Winter Park. Most of the place is a market and butcher shop, with shelves lined with the sorts of items not usually found at the average Publix (which is the reason these kinds of markets exist). And the taqueria part is way in the back, a small corner with a counter with a few stools, an open kitchen and display case with prepared dishes ready to be scooped onto plates, and a nooklike dining area with a few booths. When I strolled in one day, I was the only non-Latino there, and no one gave me a second glance.
There is quite an extensive menu for such a small place. It includes, of course, tacos, but also has burritos, gorditas, enchiladas and several seafood selections. There isn’t a thing on the menu over $10.
Even better, a lunch special gets you one of the hot prepared dishes with rice and beans for $4.99, a really good deal considering the quality and the quantity. I had the roast pork, which was moist and well-seasoned and deliciously tender. The Spanish style rice was perfect with the red beans I selected.
One disappointment: the menu has fajitas, a very American creation. But maybe that's just to make some people feel more at home.
There are dozens of other things of the menu I’d like to try, too, so I intend to stop by La Hacienda again. And maybe do a little shopping in the market, as well.
La Hacienda Meat Market y Taqueria is at 3090 Aloma Ave., Winter Park. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is no website. The phone number is 407-673-7720.