Next stop, La Estacion.
Even if you don’t know a word of Spanish, it’s not difficult to realize that La Estacion translated to English is “The Station.” Located in a former railroad station just west of College on Williams Street, La Estacion is easily one of the most popular eateries in Waukesha. I have visited La Estacion no fewer than 10 times over the past couple of years as it is our “go-to” Mexican restaurant. While there are several dishes that are outstanding, others are just so-so. But one thing is sure, the inside of this place is quite impressive and is always lively from the throngs of people gathered around the small bar to the outdoor patio bustling with diners on warm summer nights.
The decor of La Estacion is quite impressive if you are eating in the old train station. There are a couple of dining rooms and a decent sized bar where locals congregate and wait in anticipation that their pager will start buzzing and blinking signaling that their table is ready. Even when the place is packed, the longest I have wated is about 20 minutes, which is plenty of time to enjoy a Mexican beer or a tasty Margarita.
As with every Mexican place you are presented with some chips and salsa within seconds of taking your seat. The homemade chips and two excellent salsas are a great appetizer made even better by the fact that they are complimentary. I have had the guacamole appetizer which is served in a tortilla bowl. The guacamole is chunky and has a nice amount of spice so I would highly recommend it.
My absolute favorite dish which I seem to order every other time I go there is the Bistec con Nopales y Queso, which is nice marinated and grilled chunks of flavorful skirt steak mixed with onions and cactus and smothered with cheese. Tortillas (corn or flour) are served on the side so you can assemble tacos if you prefer. Mixed with a bit of sour cream and guacamole they make some of the most flavorful steak tacos in the area. For those who have never eaten Nopales, it is made from the Prickly Pear Cactus and has a nice tart tanginess similar to pickles but much milder. They also have a somewhat slimy texture similar to cooked okra, but don’t let that deter you. They provide a nice balance to the richness of the steak and cheese. The rice and beans served with this entree and most others are nothing to write home about. Not that they are bad, they just aren’t that great either.
If you really like beans, the Steak or Chicken Zamora is the dish for you. The skirt steak is pretty good and the chicken breast is pretty avereage but the frijoles charros are extraordinary. They are large cowboy beans with pork and chilies and they are some of the best beans I have ever eaten at a Mexican restaurant. If La Estacion offered these for an additional dollar or so with every entree they would sell a ton of em. This dish also included a boring cheese quesidilla, which seemed kind of odd but since you get no rice with this dish it was appreciated.
La Estacion has several varieties of Mexican staples such as cheese or chicken enchiladas, which can be ordered three ways; with a green tomatillo sauce, the traditional red sauce, or a rich flavorful mole. The three taco plate offers a great opportunity to try various meat fillings. While you may lean towards chicken or steak, both of which are just okay, I would encourage you to try the house made chorizo and the pork which is smothered in a delicious mildly spicy red sauce. The chorizo is excellent and one of these days I am going to eat brunch there so I can have chorizo and eggs.
There are several menu items that I really want to try including their fajitas which smell and look amazing as the waiters bring them to the dining room. Also you may notice some tables eating meats off of a little grill. These are grills of traditional Mexican meats like beef ribs, skirt steak, pork, chicken and chorizo served with Spanish rice, beans, guacamole, pico de gallo and tortillas. You grill the stuff yourself and then either eat them as is or pile the meat and accompianments onto the tortillas. It looks like a lot of fun and Dennis Getto loved it but so far I have been unable to convince my various dining companions to join in the festivities.
While there are some menu items that are somewhat uninspirng, a large segment of the menu is comprised of excellent preperations of traditional Mexican dishes. I have found that you are rewarded if you venture beyond the combination plates and the same old items you find on the menus of most Mexican places and work your way into the Traditional Mexican Specialties section of the menu.
La Estacion is located at 319 Williams St
Waukesha, WI 53186
I like La Estacion but it’s more expensive than other comparable Mexican restaurants.
What I didn’t like about them are some minor things.
a) They are no longer Jalisco’s. You can’t pick up your chicken nachos in your PJ’s anymore. Know why? Because everyone at the bar turns around to see who comes in. Tragic.
b) They don’t ever come back for the check. You have to pay at the cashier downstairs, but no one ever actually tells you that.
The margaritas that look like a swimming pool are awesome.