It recently dawned on us that we haven't reviewed a single Mexican restaurant three years into our blog! Although we enjoy the cuisine, we have yet to find a noteworthy spot amid the handful of generic, mediocre Tex-Mex places we've visited over the years. In an effort to reverse the situation, we decided to hit up La Hacienda on Van Horne in Outremont for the first time.
Open since 1987, the charming mom-and-pop eatery is done in a befitting hacienda (estate) spirit, complete with archways, terracotta floor tiles and beautiful Talavera-style ceramics. Sadly, the said couple had the two of us alone to occupy their small dining room on this early Thursday evening; although a couple tables did have reserved signs for later on.
tagged: WHERE IS EVERYBODY?
La Hacienda's menu comprises of traditional (mostly Northern) Mexican dishes, many relying heavily on tortillas, sour cream and coriander in multiple variations. Absent are Tex-Mex inventions such as chili con carne and fajitas. Instead, you'll find staples like nachos, tacos, burritos and enchiladas, plus a couple less familiar (to us) dishes in pechugas topped with a range of traditional sauces and chilaquiles.
The soup lacked the reddish tomato broth we were expecting. Perhaps this is a regional variation; either way, the flavours were absent and the chicken lacked any sear or seasoning. The whole thing just felt like "hospital" food; comforting but weak on taste.
La Hacienda stuck with tradition for this essential Mexican condiment, omitting much of the add-ons we are used to. Fresh creamy avocado balanced with lime, a touch of heat, and some cilantro. And while we enjoyed this bright harmonious guac, we were taken aback by the relatively high price.
"2 tortillas stuffed with grilled beef, onion, bell pepper, tomato sauce, lettuce, coriander, sour cream". This might look messy but it certainly hit the spot. The meat was nicely seared and wonderfully tender, with the sweet onions and peppers adding a richness that was rounded off by the slightly spicy sauce.
"2 rolled tortillas stuffed with chicken, spicy smoked jalapeno sauce, cheese, lettuce, onion, coriander, sour cream". The dish was nice and sizzling when received and had decent background heat, but that was all. The chicken was again bland and things just got repetitive with tortillas and cheese everywhere.
While the husband half of the mom-and-pop team runs the kitchen, the wife handles the front of the house. There was nothing to find fault with here; she was inviting, warm and accommodating. She was quick to suggest a substitution in our order, and offered an extra bowl of nachos to go with our guacamole (without us asking); very homey and motherly.
tagged: WE AIM TO PLEASE
Finalmente, we found the overall food proposition at La Hacienda average and a little on the pricey side. Whatever spark was missing on the table was made up for by the charming interior and intimate family atmosphere; making this long-lived restaurant a dependable option for Outremont residents seeking a quiet, neighborhood feel.
tagged: PLAN B.
Price per person: $26.25
Montreal restaurant and bar reviews brought to you by two regular guys who like to eat and drink. We will go anywhere and we will say it like it is.