Located in the middle of the Pasadena Oaks Shopping Center, Taqueria Mi Hacienda is a modest storefront serving up delightful dishes. And I love the plastic Chinese-restaurant plates.

The fajitas de pollo were a flavorful medley of roughly chopped chicken breast, green bell pepper, onion, and nicely roasted chunks of tomato. I squeezed lime juice over the chicken and gently tossed it in the zesty juice the tomato left at the bottom of the plate. I'm not a big fan of chicken fajitas, but Mi Hacienda’s chunky chicken breast was thinly filleted and, dare I say it, tender. The order comes with freshly made tortillas—I chose corn and stuffed three tortillas full of equal parts chicken and veggies. I was happily full, but not overly stuffed. The chicken plate was just enough for an early dinner.

Fajita is Spanish for "little belt." It's a name that was first used to describe outside skirt steak, which is the belt-like diaghram muscle of a steer. But when Tex-Mex restaurants like Ninfa's began serving the fajita meat grilled over charcoal with a do-it-youself set-up of tortillas, salsas, guacamole, and condiments, customers who didn't speak Spanish assumed that the word "fajitas" described the whole spread.

Strictly speaking, there is no such thing as chicken fajitas or shrimp fajitas, but that didn't stop restaurants from serving grilled proteins with tortillas and salsas and calling the meal "fajitas." What's funny is that taquerias run by Mexican nationals have adopted the Tex-Mex term. And now it is used to describe meat that's been sauteed as well as grilled meat.

It's rare to find white-meat chicken in a sautee that isn't dry and chalky. I normally prefer to eat the juicier, dark meat of the chicken thigh. And rather than bell peppers, I like jalapeños or serrano peppers for more spice and flavor. But even considering those drawbacks, this plate of sauteed chicken was definitely satisfying.

Feeding four adults on a Saturday afternoon was a success at just $33.47. 

Taqueria Mi Hacienda, 1341 S. Richey, Pasadena, 713-472-2902

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