Mexican restaurant serves up the spice
6:45 p.m. … Starting a list of 2016 resolutions and goals.
La Hacienda is one of Hot Springs’ oldest and most successful Mexican restaurants. It was founded in 1988 and is located in the old Mexican Villa (from early ’70s) on Central Avenue. While very successful, many of us have had mixed opinions about this restaurant.
I blame much of this on the salsas. La Hacienda automatically serves two very traditional Mexican salsas. The red, as you may get in central Mexico, is delivered warm. It also has a unique sweetness. The verde salsa is spicier, and is also a bit sweet. Some people love these salsas, and many do not. The sheets are sometimes split within a family. You may get in a heated debate about their salsas… As these condiments arrive, they make a huge first impression. This has kept those who prefer more savory salsas from going often to LaHa and delving in to the extensive and delicious menu. Let not your hearts — or palates — be troubled. La Hacienda will also serve traditional red salsa, or my absolute favorite Chico’s salsa upon request. The Chico’s may be the best salsa in the State. You can even ask for a habanero sauce if you have a burning desire.
With the salsa conflict resolved, the rest of the La Hacienda experience is awesome. The décor is colorful and festive, and the service is always impeccable. The restaurant uses a team service approach, and you won’t wait long for any need. The staff, including the kitchen staff, is always very friendly and accommodating with special requests. And then there’s the great food! Let’s taco ‘bout that.
The chips are always warm and fresh when served with the above mentioned salsa. For starters, the white cheese dip is good, as is the guacamole. The Coctel de Cameron (Shrimp Cocktail) is very nice and served with a homemade sauce and fresh avoca- do. Another excellent early choice is the Ensalada de Fruta! This is a fresh fruit salad served with granola and honey. Also available as a dessert, you will love the beautiful presentation and flavors. LaHa has a very good Tortilla Soup, a Mexican vegetable soup and a variety of Mexican-style salads. An interesting salad is the Ensalada Artista — a deconstructed taco salad is as tasty as it is attractive.
An entrée choice, that could be requested as sliced for a table appetizer, is the Chicken Fajita Chimichanga. I normally steer away from a heavily fried chimichangas, but this version is very light and is a kaleidoscope of flavors! This is my newest favorite menu item, and you will order this many times. This rolled-up flour tortilla is stuffed with seasoned fajita chicken and more, then served with a bit a cheese sauce. Yummy!
I normally will opt for special items, rather than typical Mexican combo plates. At La Hacienda, that is where you will find the best options. Try the Mila- nesa. This is a thinly pounded chicken breast that is lightly breaded and sautéed. So tender and scrumptious! This, like all plates, is served with rice and beans. I like the Milanesa with Chico’s salsa slathered on top. You can also custom order this as grilled, rather than breaded and sautéed. My favorite custom- ization is to have the grilled tender chicken covered with mushrooms, onions and jack cheese. This is also available in beef.
Another special entrée is the Original Chile con Carne. This is slowly cooked tender pork in a green sauce and served with tortillas — think Pork Verde. Another nice pork dish is the Carnitas Michoacanas. This entrée is large pieces of slowly cooked and very
tender pork that you will love.
The Carne Asada a la Michoacana is tremendous! This beef (or chicken) is grilled with pico de gallo and a slightly spicy chipotle sauce. This one is best with the beef.
For an all veggie dish, try the Garden Fajitas. These fajitas are grilled fresh zucchini, carrots, tomatoes, green and red peppers, onions and jalapeños. All of this can be topped with cheese. Another yum! Notice that these items are not your typical enchilada.
I hope you will order from this list, or maybe try another special item. La Hacienda has several good desserts, but one really stands out — the Fresca con Crema! Fresh strawberries are served in a homemade Mexican fresh crema, and is a fabulous ending. The Flan is another fine choice.
LaHa has a full bar with numerous tequila choices. As a reminder, I am purist margarita snob. If you want to become a margarita snob and a purist, order a “Brad’s Margarita.” This is an anejo tequila with an equal part of Cointreau, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, shaken well with ice and served on the rocks with salt. This has no syrupy mix, so sip this like you may a martini. For a non-alcoholic treat, try the orange punch.
The management staff, including Arnold and Sergio, will continue to work hard to give you a great experience. Order wisely, and La Hacienda will become one of your favorite Mexican restaurants in the area. I’ll see you at LaHa!
8:35 p.m. …Feliz Navidad, and have a happy and healthy New Year!