The fresh-made empanadas from La Hacienda Meat & Grocery Market | Photo by Michelle Gillan Larkin
Tucked away in a sunken plaza tributary of Central Park Avenue, Westchester’s latest specialty supermarket and luncheonette sits as a testament to home cooking and family love. La Hacienda Meat & Grocery Market is the culmination of a longtime dream by two brothers from Mexico.
By Cristiana Caruso and Michelle Gillan Larkin
Richard and Efrain (“Frankie”) Magana spent their childhood in the small village of Llano Largo in the Mexican state of Jalisco, a place of red mountains and landscape so picturesque that they boast: “It’s nearly possible to reach out and touch a cloud.”
The family emigrated to the United States in the late 1980s when the brothers were teenagers and settled in New Rochelle; prior to that, the Magana boys worked in the orange fields near Orlando, alongside their parents.
Although they each established themselves in careers in the trades, they harbored a shared dream to open a store and eatery where they could bring “the tastes and products of home” to the kitchens of their neighbors in Westchester.
In the summer of 2020, with the pandemic very much in the forefront of the small business and culinary world, they bravely signed the contract for the 5,000-sq-ft space. While the team had scouted multiple locations across Westchester, they felt a kindred sense of community with the Yonkers neighborhood. “We walked up and down the entire strip here, talking to locals and asking them what they’d like to see,” says Richard. “It gave us a better understanding of what the community was looking for.”
The space is bright and colorful, reminiscent of the vibrancy of Latin America and its people and culture, with elements of the Magana family peppered throughout (you might get lucky enough to sit in the booth of the dining space that has family photos of Richard and Frankie’s younger selves). It’s mostly supermarket — stocked with nearly every Latin specialty item under the sun, plus household staples we all pick up in a pinch (think: paper towels, soap, TP, milk, bread, eggs, you name it) — with a small deli-style eatery to one side. Even the counter of the eatery has personal flourishes: It is made up of hand-painted tiles, collected by the brothers over the years, from a variety of places they’ve been.
Growing up in a large family, the Magana brothers picked up on the tradition of cooking in small batches for family and friends. Believing that “food should be created with tradition in every flavor,” says Richard, all of their recipes are homegrown and infused with the seasonings and spices they enjoyed growing up. The pair, along with their wives, have a natural inclination to feed, and even more so when it comes to hospitality. “One Easter, we only had 20 people around the table — it felt so empty,” says Tanyi Arriaga, the store’s manager and Richard’s wife. “We both grew up with big families, so this is very natural to us. We want our customers to feel a part of that, too.”
Fresh daily staples at the hot and cold food counter sway toward the Mexican side of things, tempting first thing in the A.M. with breakfast burritos, huevos rancheros, and eggs with house-made chorizo, right there alongside pancakes and bagels with cream cheese.
As the day goes on, fresh-made sopas, empanadas, tortas, quesadillas (with house-made tortillas), and tacos take center stage, with guac and chips, of course. (Pro tip: Try the tacos al pastor or the one with that homemade chorizo and thank us later.)
Standout entrée-style daily dishes include luscious, soul-soothing pernil (pork shoulder) that’s marinated for two days, then slow-roasted for four hours, and the transcendent quesabirria that takes five hours to make from start to finish and is served with succulent consommé for dipping (natch), plus traditional Puerto Rican rice with pigeon peas.
American dishes also dot the menu, including lemon chicken and chicken marsala. And in the near-endless grocery aisles, explore a part of the gastro world you may not have previously tread: products from Nestle Abuelita, Chelada, Malher, Jarritos, to name a few of the Latin American brands. Just in case the flavors the Magana boys excel at don’t tempt. But, trust us, they will.
La Hacienda Meat & Grocery Market
1727 Central Park Ave, Yonkers; 914.685.3242