Family and food.
Two words that carry a lot of importance and relevance for the Curiel family.
Numbering 10, the Curiel siblings’ home was in Ayutla, Jalisco in central-western Mexico. Beginning in the mid-1990s, nine of the siblings began making their way to the United States, taking up residences over a period of time in Washington, Utah, Colorado and Nebraska. Families stick together, and most of the siblings found employment in the restaurant industry.
For brothers Fernando and Daniel and sister Aurora, who were living in Lincoln, the opportunity to take advantage of a vacant, former Carlos O’Kelly’s site for opening their own restaurant was certainly inviting.
The trio opened the doors of Hacienda Real in the city’s SouthPointe Pavilions area in October 2014. A couple years later in October 2016, Aurora, Daniel and their brother-in-law opened a companion establishment, the Hacienda Real Highlands (4811 N.W. First St.), built upon the success and reputation of the first restaurant.
According to Fernando, the siblings were giving things a shot with their first Lincoln ventures, but Hacienda Real’s acceptance by the public has proven them right.
“It [the opportunity] just felt right,” he said. “We had a great beginning right from the start. Our staff is solid and are like part of our family.” The result for the Curiels has been a combining of quality food, dependable staff and great customer relationships.
The concept of family is also demonstrated in the Hacienda Real menu. Aurora and Fernando said that dining offerings are mostly taken from family recipes. “They are Mom and Pop recipes that we grew up with, and we keep them as same as we can,” Aurora said.
Aurora and Fernando explained that the family’s recipe authenticity is maintained by another of their brothers and his wife, who are co-chefs of the Hacienda Real kitchen.
The Curiels said that both restaurants have identical menus, and that while they make occasional changes, those changes are more likely to be the addition of more items to the menu than removal of any, which is demonstrated by the menu’s extensive offerings.
In the Aperitivos (appetizer) section, there are 13 choices including Taquitos Mexicanos ($8.50), Fajita Quesadilla ($10.95) and Nachos Del Mar ($10.95). Five Caldos (soup) options include Sopa de tortillas ($8.95) and Menudo ($13.95).
Enchiladas de Mole ($10.95), Enchiladas Verdes ($10.95) and Fiesta Enchilada (four flour tortillas filled with choice of shredded chicken, beef or ground beef with rice and beans inside, $11.50) are among the seven Enchiladas choices, while 10 Burrito options include the Burrito Manadero ($10.95), Carnitas Burrito ($12.95) and Camaron Burrito (shrimp, tomato, green onion and mushrooms sautéed in cream sauce, $14.95).
Ranging from $4.50 to $13.95, there are 11 Ensaladas & Tostadas items including the Cancun Salad (grilled tilapia fillet on mixed greens, spinach and more, $11.95) or the Tequila Salad (skirt steak dipped in tequila and grilled on mixed greens, spinach and more, $11.95). Three Fajitas choices range from $14.95 to $18.95.
Among an 11-choice Favoritos category are the Cuadalajara Special (grilled New York steak, chili relleno and deep-fried chicken burrito topped with ranchero sauce, $15.95), Chicken Flautas (three corn tortillas filled with shredded chicken and deep-fried atop a bed of lettuce, $12.50) and Sopitos (traditional handmade tortilla filled with choice of shredded chicken, beef, pork or ground beef and deep-fried, $12.95).
Shrimp, crab and prawns are prepared in a variety of ways among the 12 entrees available under Mariscos, with Pollo Chipotle ($14.95) and Pollo en Mole ($14.95) two of the seven chicken dishes under Pollo. Six distinctively different Tacos Hacienda choices range from $10.50 to $16.50.
Meat is in the forefront of the nine Carnes choices, including Pork Carnitas ($14.95) and Steak Ranchero (T-bone grilled over open flame, $15.95), as well as Hacienda Real’s customer favorite, according to the Curiels – the Carne Asada (tender skirt steak grilled over open flame, $15.95).
Four vegetarian dishes – veggie fajitas, veggie enchiladas, veggie burrito and spinach enchiladas – range between $10.25 and $12.50, with five Hueves choices – machaca con huevos, huevos rancheros, chorizo con huevos, chorizo and egg burrito, and T-bone steak & eggs – costing $10.25 to $17.50.
Four choices are offered for those looking for traditional American fare – hamburger ($7.95), cheeseburger ($8.95), grilled chicken burger ($9.50) and T-bone steak ($15.50).
Fernando said that customers receive complimentary chips, salsa and bean dip, adding that the restaurant’s bean dip is immensely popular with customers. “It is a unique recipe … other restaurant’s dips don’t come close to it. We have customers who buy it by the quart to take home.”
Hacienda Real offers a full bar of spirits and beer options, but not surprisingly, margaritas tend to be the most requested item. Aurora touts the restaurant’s margaritas as being “the best in town,” citing that they are made from an original recipe. “We don’t use standard margarita mix or sweet and sour.” The Hacienda Real House Margarita is $6.50, with the restaurant’s top option, the Premium Margarita ($9.50), allowing customers to pick their personal tequila option from 30-some choices.
The Curiels say that while catering is not a large portion of their business, they are more than happy to do anything necessary to satisfy customer requests. “We will work with whatever a catering customer wants,” Fernando says, “to make it all work … period.”
A mixture of office workers, construction workers and older individuals make up the Hacienda Real lunch crowd, with the dinnertime base being families with children, younger adults and seniors.
The Curiels said that they are considering an expansion into the Omaha area sometime in the future.
“We have customers from Omaha who travel down here to eat, and they ask us when we will be having a restaurant in Omaha,” Aurora said.
Fernando interjects that the Omahans are “no longer asking if Hacienda Real will come to Omaha … they are demanding it.”
Customer service is an obvious priority for any restaurant. That and quality food offerings. The Curiels feel that Hacienda Real delivers on both tenets, saying that family-friendly attention is a must – something they believe their staff provides for customers. By treating their staff like family, in turn, they feel that the staff treats customers like family, so that everyone who comes to Hacienda Real feels part of the comfort of family.
Family and food.