Hacienda puts Tex-Mex spin on chicken wings with habanero flavor


By: Michael Tomko

Michael Tomko/Flavor 574

I had to make a trip to the Goshen BMV last week, so I decided to try some wings for lunch at the Hacienda next door. There is a saying that goes, “If you do not have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

OK, well, they do have some good chips and salsa.

I grew up in northwest Indiana, and like the Elkhart/Goshen area, there is a large Mexican-American population there. That means there are a lot of good Mexican and Tex-Mex restaurants in the area. Growing up we didn’t even eat at Taco Bell.

We weren’t food snobs or anything — I ate more than my fair share of McDonald’s and Burger King. But, if we wanted some tacos, my dad would just go to Pepe’s and pick up a dozen.

My college girlfriend was from Michigan City, and her favorite place to eat was at the Long Beach Hacienda. I just could never get into the food there. I won’t go as far to say it is bad, as I’ve finished everything I’ve ever eaten there. Like Taco Bell or other Mexican fast food places I’ve eaten at, it just lacks the flavor of the more authentic places I am used to going to. But I do remember the chips and salsa were pretty good.

After moving to the Elkhart area, I would find myself ending up at the Hacienda to eat more and more often. I came up with this conclusion – women love this place. It would usually go something like this: There was a group of singles, mostly guys and a few girls. We would get done hanging out and wanted to go somewhere to eat.

One of the girls would suggest Hacienda, and the other girls would back her up. Any of single guys would not want to anger any of the single girls, so the guys would just look at each other, shrug their shoulders and mutter something like, “Well, they have good chips and salsa.” Next thing I know, I have a wet burrito sitting in front of my face.

When I started dating my wife, I was able to introduce her to the more authentic Mexican restaurants, so now the only time you usually find me at a Hacienda is when it has a fundraiser day for my kid’s daycare.

I will admit that I do really like the Hacienda in Mishawaka in the 100 Center. I went there a couple times after watching the comedy show in the old Funnybone that used to be around there.

It’s not that the food is any different, put the place is actually in an old house. I believe it is the original Hacienda and it’s a cool place to visit and hang out. I would suggest visiting there sometime, even if all you end up eating is the chips and salsa.

Hacienda does have wings. Surprisingly, they were not too bad. They do have some flaws, but overall they do a good job with them.

I got the Habanero Hot Sauce wings. They came out piping hot, as you could see the steam rising from the fried wings. The sauce was the best part of them. I like habanero flavor, and even though you could not taste much of the habanero, they still had that good, hot pepper flavor. They didn’t have too much heat either, about a 2 out of 4 on the heat scale.

The skin on the wing was crispy, but the chicken was a little tough. It had that “chicken jerky” type of texture. I think they were a little overcooked, and it tasted like they did not use the freshest wings.

I also didn’t get any drummies. I don’t know what the deal with that was. Usually places charge extra to get all drummies, so they may have a bunch of “wings” left over. We should get a discount if the wing basket contains no drummies.

I do stop short of calling it a rip-off, as the price was actually quite good — especially for a small chain. $6.99 for 10 wings yields a CPW (cost per wing) of 70 cents. I wouldn’t consider the wings “jumbo,” as they advertised, but 70 cents for medium sized wings is a good deal.

I’m not going to call the wings here the best I’ve ever had, but taking all into account, they rank on the high side of average. Next year when I visit again to help raise money for the daycare, I will definitely order the wings again.

Of course, I will also eat a whole bowl and basket of chips and salsa while I wait for them to come out.

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