In a word: A good place to get your salsa on.
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Amanda ate the pozole.
Carlos had an horchata and some chips & guacamole (which we shared).
JM ate the beef quesadillas with a lemonade.
John ate the torta milanesa de pollo with an horchata.
Nichole ate the caldo de camarones with a coffee.
The bill was about $40, or $8/person, plus tip.
Amanda gave La Hacienda an A; JM and Nichole gave La Hacienda an A-; John gave La Hacienda a B (see our grading rubric).
Nothing breaks up a cold, icy winter day like some spicy food shared among friends. Of course, around a basket of chips this camaraderie is amplified. We started off the meal with a bowl of guacamole in addition to the chunky house salsa. It used to be that you could order guacamole by the dollar, but however you get it, try it. We figure anyone who brings a bowl of La Hacienda's guacamole to their next party will be a hit.
The caldo de camarones (shrimp soup) was a generous serving of a simple soup - the size pictured is the small bowl. The mellow seafood broth covered potatoes, carrots, celery, and several large, fresh, curly shrimp. Lime wedges, paper cups of diced raw onion and cilantro, slices of creamy avocado, and (for the Anglos) Saltines came on the side. It was nothing fancy, but it was thoroughly enjoyable. Even better was the coffee, which Nichole is pretty sure they flavor with cinnamon.
JM's beef quesadilla was pretty tasty though there's only so much latitude with meat betwixt tortillas. The cheese:meat ratio was good though the meat itself was pretty greasy and didn't have much seasoning. The rice wasn't his favorite - seeming a little bit clumpy and bland. Others prefer this style, however.
Compared to the tortas at La Concha, John felt this sandwich wasn't quite as good. The horchata at La Hacienda is far better, however. Other than that, John couldn't say La Hacienda blew him away in any respect, just that it seems like a reliable place to eat.
Amanda ordered a bowl of pozole, the special-occasion soup made with pork (her favorite meat ever) and hominy. She swears that radishes are only good if and only if they're used in this dish. She also relishes the whole concept of raw toppings on nice hot soup.
As a postscript: We wanted to acknowledge that we followed last summer's dust-up over La Hacienda's wage and labor policies, but not in too much depth. The story seems to have died abruptly, with no news since September 2007. While we are curious about whether a resolution was reached, we were thankful we weren't crossing a live picket line; on the other hand, we know abuse of employees' time and trust is widespread in the restaurant industry. Being customers only and not scene insiders, we generally prefer to stay out of things we have little experience of.