Herradura Vieja Opens in Chelmsford

September 23, 2018

Raquel Lopez of Chelmsford grills ingredients for a large takeout order at Herradura Vieja Restaurante Mexicano in Chelmsford. (SUN/JULIA MALAKIE)

CHELMSFORD -- Using family recipes passed down for generations and rustic stylings, the owners of Herradura Vieja are bringing a taste of their native Mexico to Greater Lowell.

Opened July 23 in the Summer Street Crossing plaza, the Mexican restaurant began with an idea by Ramiro Ayala Meza, of Nashua.

Ayala Meza already owned El Tapatio, another Mexican restaurant in Merrimack, N.H., but wanted to do something a bit different in opening a second restaurant, said Tony Moreira, of Merrimack, who was project coordinator for the creation of Herradura Vieja. (Moreira also served as Spanish to English translator for Ayala Meza and his business partners.)

“They had this vision to create a little bit different atmosphere,” Moreira said. “Not just a traditional Mexican restaurant, but a little bit more open, not so crowded, carry on the colors and some of the furniture tradition, but a little bit more special.”

Moreira and Ayala Meza traveled around looking for the right spot, and kept being drawn back to Chelmsford.

They secured a lease for adjacent storefronts at the Summer Street plaza last summer and began the process of obtaining the necessary permits and licenses.

Ayala Meza called in his cousins, Ramon Bravo Meza and Guillermo Bravo Meza, who are brothers, from Simi Valley, Calif., to co-own and operate the restaurant. The three have more than 60 years of combined restaurant experience.

“It’s a family tradition,” Moreira said.

Now all living in Nashua, the three owners grew up on farms in Degollado, in Mexico’s Jalisco state.

That upbringing plays deeply into the restaurant’s decor and motto of “calidad, servicio, atmosfera,” or “quality, service, atmosphere.”

“They want to make sure that every customer that comes in leaves happy,” Moreira said.

Herradura Vieja translates to “old horseshoe,” long a symbol of luck and good fortune. Horses and horseshoes are seen all around the restaurant, from tabletop decorations and chair backs to wall paintings and chandeliers.

Herradura is also popular brand of tequila, one of more than two dozen kinds served.

Freshness is the name of the game when it comes to the food and drink. Bartenders squeeze limes fresh for margaritas and other house drinks. Guacamole is made table-side in a traveling cart.

All sauces are made in-house daily, along with other staples, like rice, beans and pulled pork. Other items are made fresh to order.

The owners have their favorite dishes they like to recommend to customers seeking an authentic Mexican cuisine experience, from fajitas still sizzling when they hit the table to the Molcajete, a dinner for two with five kinds of meat and seafood and vegetables served in a traditional hot stone bowl.

There’s the Chori Pollo, a grilled chicken dish smothered with Mexican sausage and cheese dip, and Camarones al Mojo de Ajo, or grilled shrimp in garlic sauce. They also love the Carne Asada, or marinated steak, Carnitas Herradura, or braised pork, and pulled pork tamales with mole ranchero sauce, a farm-style version of the sauce made with five types of chiles.

Moreira said the owners are thankful for the positive response Herradura Vieja has received in the community so far.

“They invite everyone to come try them out, and they will promise great food and they’re always open to listen to any suggestions,” he said.

Visit herraduravieja.com for more information.

Follow Alana Melanson at facebook.com/alana.lowellsun or on Twitter @alanamelanson.

Update hourly