I cannot believe I am writing these words: I have discovered Mexican food that is like my homeland. I have found my Tex-Mex mecca, and it’s name is Hay!! Chi Wa Waa.
Here’s how I found it: I read the Courier-Journal’s restaurant review and a certain salsa called “green sauce” was described. I immediately did a double take. This is the famous green sauce from Ninfa’s in Houston. It is made with cilantro, jalepenos, sour cream, tomatillos and avocados. Obviously the Louisville restaurant reviewer had no idea what he had unveiled, but I bee-lined it over there for dinner. (This green sauce alone makes the visit to Hay Chi Wa Waa worthwhile).
For any restaurant to be considered truly (or verdad if you’re from Houston) Tex Mex, there are certain markers to look for:
- Chips are served hot/warm and they are wafer thin.
- Salsa is served warm. And not just the spice level, but the temperature is warm.
- Tortillas are homemade, usually right there in the middle of the restaurant.
- There are usually two types of beans served: charros and refried beans. Real refried beans are made with lard and sometimes a splash of milk in them.
- A cheese puff is served as a side item. This is like a mexican puff pastry covered in queso.
- Queso, not cheese dip, is served as an appetizer. If you call it “cheese dip” you will be dismissed.
Hay!! Chi Wa Waa hits all these marks, with one exception: no tortilla-making station in the middle of the restaurant.
Turns out the owner is from Houston and took his show on the road, landing here in Louisville. I went to the restaurant once with friends. We were impressed. Then I took two Tex-Mex experts, a local friend who is from Houston and my mother (the ultimate judge and jury). It passed again. I’ve now been three times in three weeks and it’s official: I’m in love.
Let me walk you through my menu sampling:
Hay! Chi Wa Waa is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. They are located at 808 Lyndon Lane, Suite 105 (a shopping center right near the railroad tracks). Visit their website at haychiwawaa.com.
I’ll probably see you there.