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Taqueria Bucks Chipotle Trend With Authentic Tacos for $1

By Katie Honan | December 30, 2013 1:19pm

ELMHURST — A restaurant modeled after the authentic Mexican haunts of the owners' childhoods is hoping to turn up the heat on rival burrito chains, hawking tacos for just a buck complete with a full array of fixings to choose from.

La Hacienda on 69th Street and Queens Boulevard reopened last week under new management, who hope to bring an authentic Mexican feel and reasonable prices to their customers.

"You've heard of Chipotle, in Manhattan?" co-owner Pedro Paisano said, "We are authentic...We are born in Mexico."

Paisano and co-owner Fernando Navarro grew up in Mexico, now live in Woodside, and have worked at other restaurants in the five boroughs, including El Tequilazo in Manhattan.

Their goal is to create something special closer to home, and as real to their roots as possible, they said.

"This idea has been coming for a long time," Paisano said.

Tacos start at only $1 and go up to $1.50, and can be dressed with full fixings from a bar that includes pico de gallo, chopped jalapenos, cilantro and lime.

They also sell burritos, quesadillas and a long list of Mexican drinks, including Coca-Cola Mexicana and the almond drink horchata, at the 24-hour restaurant.

They plan to open a basement bar in the future, modeled after the cantinas in their hometown, where they'll sell a variety of tequilas and mezcal, as well as beers including Tecate, Victoria and Modelo.

They've decorated the restaurant with antique sombreros, handmade tables and chairs, and lined the walls with imported tiles that hail from Navarro's hometown of Puebla. They grew up watching movies from their country's golden age of cinema, and plan to show these vintage flicks on the restaurant's screens.

Navarro, who also sells Mexican antiques, said the inspiration for the decorations was to recreate a little flavor of home.

"We're going for an identity — all Mexico," he said.