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La Hacienda Taqueria  |  Nashville, TN

La Hacienda Taqueria | Nashville, TN

Authentic Mexican Cuisine Thrives in Music City U.S.A.

In a town brimming with honky tonk BBQ joints and hot chicken shacks, La Hacienda Taqueria is a standout in Nashville. And it’s not because they’re doing anything innovative or boast the hottest chef in town. For this family-owned business, it’s all about authenticity and consistency.

Opened in 1993 by husband-and-wife team Carlos and Lilia Yepez, La Hacienda Taqueria caters mostly to Nashville’s growing Hispanic population. The establishment also happens to be located a few blocks away from Casa Azafran, a sprawling community center focused on the needs of Hispanics. It’s so close to the restaurant, in fact, that only minutes after President Barack Obama held a town-hall-style meeting at the center in 2014, he found himself at the counter ordering five steak tacos.

While it’s not every day Lilia Yepez gets a visit from the president, she operates her restaurant as though VIPs show up on the regular. She stresses that authenticity is the draw.

“Our food is very traditional Mexican, and our recipes come from different parts of Mexico, so we can offer our customers a variety of Mexican foods,” she says. Those offerings vary from made-to-order fajitas stuffed with shredded beef or sautéed shrimp to a 14-inch burrito filled with chicken, tomatoes, beans, sour cream and avocado.

But that’s not all there is to La Hacienda Taqueria, and how it came to be is actually what makes it iconic for Nashville’s Hispanic community. When the Yepez family moved to “Music City U.S.A.,” there wasn’t much of a Mexican cuisine presence. That inspired them to open a tortilla manufacturing plant. However, constant obstructions put the project on delay. While they waited, the husband-and-wife team decided to open a Mexican-focused market to satisfy the huge demand in the area. Its popularity led to an expansion, which included La Hacienda Taqueria.

“Once the market started, customers asked for prepared foods, so we started preparing items like burritos, enchiladas and tamales,” explains Yepez. “Since the demand was so high, we decided to use a portion of the market to have a little restaurant area with a bar top and four stools. After that, we decided to make the market into a full-service restaurant.”

Yepez is proud of what her restaurant has accomplished throughout the years. “It helped the Mexican community have a place where they feel like home in a country that was very new to them or a city they were not familiar with,” she says.

Her belief is that La Hacienda Taqueria has inspired similar operations to flourish in the community. “Every few miles, there is a Mexican eatery. The scene has become more diversified with different types of eateries such as Mexican markets, bakeries, food trucks and ice cream shops.”

Even with all the competition and more contemporary concepts opening, Yepez has no plans to change a thing. “I know that serving authentic, traditional Mexican food is the vision we have for our restaurant and we don’t want to be something we are not.”

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