Dave’s View: Andrea and I decided to check out Javier’s Hacienda on East Washington Street. We got there, way too early, so we decided to stay inside our car until the place opened up. It was a Tuesday around 10:45 AM and the place doesn’t open up until 11:00 o’clock, but don’t worry, Javier himself came out and told us “We’re open!” I’m thinking to myself, its ten minutes until eleven o’clock and Andrea and I were going to wait until 11:10 because we hate the people who stand outside a business waiting for it to open up. We are not the Black Friday eating out type of people! We were parked on the East side of the building, so maybe he thought we were drug dealers or something, but in fact, we were just hungry. Oh, by the way, there is plenty of parking on the West side of the building. Just look for the low yellow cement signs stating, Javier’s parking. I didn’t see it the first time when we drove by because my eyes we getting burned by the huge bright yellow building in which sits Javier’s Hacienda.(It was the good kind of slow burn on the retinas.)
When you first enter the place, you are welcomed by s stuffed mule in a somewhat long hallway which then explodes into a grand, high ceiling, exposed wood truss room. Nicely decorated with sun/moon motifs, Mother Mary, horses, and a huge rock fountain with two green frogs. Javier was waiting in the foyer and said, “Sorry you had to wait.” We didn’t mind at all. In fact, we were surprised that they let us in ten minutes early. When I think about this moment after the fact, I would have waited an hour. Why? Because the food here is outstanding.
Before you order your drinks, they do give you the standard chips and salsa, but the salsa here is made in-house and is potent. As in a slow burn in the mouth(not in your retinas), after you’ve had three or four chips. We did order some Guacamole, which is made to order, chopped up fresh, and it did cool the mouth down plenty. After a few sips(gulps) of $4.00 Tuesday House Margarita, I ordered the Cochinita Pibil. It’s roasted pork with pickled red onions, black beans, plantains and pico de gallo. It came with three flour tortillas. The pork was tender and you better have a napkin ready because the juices will be flowing when you wrap the pork up in the tortilla. It looks dry when you pick it up, but trust me, there’s plenty of spices and juices to make your day. The black beans have a nice earthy taste to them and the plantains… Wait, hold on here! Plantains? On a Mexican plate? What is going on here? Plantains are Cuban or Puerto Rican food! Well, maybe it is, I don’t know, but on this dish, it compliments it just fine. I mean they do eat a lot of pork in Puerto Rico, so why not? It does make sense, I just haven’t seen it in a Mexican restaurant before.
The service here is sweet. I asked our server how to pronounce “Cochinita Pibil” and she said it like it was second nature. Will I be able to pronounce now? No, I’ve had two Margaritas since then. Check back with me. I also asked her if the building used to be a horse barn. The reason why I asked her this question is because there is a lot of symbols of horses(saddles hanging from the rafters, small covered wagons on the trusses) and the place looks like a horse barn inside where you could see horse pens on the sides of the wall. I could be wrong, I’m probably wrong, but who knows? She looked confused. I don’t know if it was lost in translation or I asked a “funky” question. I’ll go with “funky”. She didn’t know, which is fine because the place is magical. From the outside, it looks like a big yellow building surrounded by a neighborhood that is run down, but once you walk inside you’ve enter another dimension. Yes, East Washington is not the prettiest of streets in Indianapolis, hence the drug dealing reference in the first paragraph, but don’t worry. Once you walk inside the building, Mother Mary will protect you.
Or maybe those frogs on the fountain.
Service: 9.5 Food: 9.5 Ambiance: 9.75 Total: 28.75 out of 30
$40-$50 dollar with adult beverages
My wish for Javier’s Hacienda: The street on which the business is located on, becomes a second focal point for international food places in Indianapolis. We have one on the West side, now the perfect place would be on the East side on Washington Street. It would revive the area and more eateries equals more money. Hey, the street is getting paved as we speak. I see a bright future for this area.
Andrea’s View: Dave and I were already downtown one weekday afternoon, so we decided that we should go on a downtown food adventure. Dave looked up some restaurants, I looked up some restaurants, and we settled on Javier’s Hacienda. The Garmin took us to the specified address and we arrived at a very unassuming yellow brick building in a somewhat rundown, but probably just old, part of the near Eastside. I thought to myself, this is either going to be a disaster, or its going to be the best place ever. Spoiler alert: It was the best place ever.
The outside has sort of that West side, tavern/strip club next to the track kind of vibe to it, but don’t let that fool you or scare you off. As you walk inside, you go down a narrow hallway that opens up into the most spectacular dining hall you have ever seen. It is as tall as a grand cathedral in Europe and it even has some Catholic iconography. There is a ginormous fountain in the middle of the room that depicts (I think, correct me if I’m wrong) Our Lady of Guadalupe. Colorful tables are laid out on multiple levels. It’s stunning and I could have sat in that dining hall for hours.
Our server was incredibly nice and attentive. She even helped me pick out what to eat. I knew I wanted the tamales, but I wasn’t sure if I should get the pork or chicken. She said chicken. I also ordered Dave and I some freshly made guacamole and chips. The house margaritas were on special, so we decided to sample that too. The guacamole was phenomenal and spiced just how you like it, and the margarita, that was divine. Lots of fresh lime, and the right amount of tequila. And my tamales, well, they, I don’t know what to say, they were fabulous. They came with black beans (not refried pintos, although I do like refried pintos), rice and a green salad with pickled red onions. I love pickled red onions, I’ve even tried to make them at home without much success. All of our food was as beautiful as it was delicious.
Dave and I had finished our margaritas, and decided to have another round. When our server came back with our drinks, she told us that she had made a mistake with the first drinks. She had given us the fresh, premium margaritas instead of the house variety. She told us that she would still give us the special price for the first margaritas, (we made up the difference in her tip) but that these were the real house margaritas. Let me tell you this, when you come here, and I know you will, pony up the extra for the fresh margaritas.
As Dave and I were sipping our not as grand, but passable, margaritas, I told Dave that I thought that this place was a destination restaurant. It’s that type of place you take out-of-town friends and family to when they visit. It’s not in the best part of town, it’s not easy to get to, but it is quite possibly the best Mexican in the city. It’s the grand cathedral of Mexican food