Tucked away at the Fairmont Scottsdale is a hidden gem and an old friend, La Hacienda. After shutting its doors in 2008, the fine-dining Mexican restaurant was re-opened in January with a new chef and new décor.

The Fairmont is touting the re-opened La Hacienda as having “a fresh, contemporary twist.” The restaurant’s traditional Spanish architecture is now accented with sleek, urban décor. Along with a new chef, Richard Sandoval, the revamped La Hacienda also features fire pit patio seating. And then, there’s the bar.

When my companions and I arrived, we spent some time at the vibrant bar exploring the beverage menu. La Hacienda offers more than 100 tequilas, as well as a full margarita menu, meaning that no matter your taste buds, there is a drink for you.

After some time at the bar (we recommend the sangria — with tequila, naturally), we moved to the cozy dining room. Our table was next to a roaring fireplace and the atmosphere was quiet and relaxing, despite the room being filled with diners. If you prefer outdoor seating, request a table on the front patio to watch the hustle and bustle of the resort as you enjoy your meal.

The menu at La Hacienda contains many Spanish words, but don’t let that intimidate you; the wait staff is extremely helpful in making recommendations. We started out with guacamole para la mesa, for the table. It was fresh and delicious, complete with avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro and serrano chile, all served with tortilla chips.

After enjoying the delicious guacamole, we ordered our antojitos, or appetizers. The table favorite was the flautas: crispy tortillas wrapped around shredded chicken, three-chile citrus, tomatillo salsa and cotija cheese. They were fried to perfection and devoured within minutes of arriving at our table. Also a favorite were the tacos de langosta — yes, that’s lobster tacos. Inside these delicious tacos were black beans, chile de arbol sauce, avocado and cilantro. It was by far the fanciest (and tastiest) taco I had ever eaten.

After our antojitos were cleared, we were brought our platos fuertes, or entrées. We sampled the costilla de res, or braised beef short ribs, which we found to be absolutely scrumptious. They were served with vegetable escabeche, a sour cream potato puree, habanero chiles and guava sauce. Although everything was delicious, the overwhelming table favorite was the pipian de puerco: slow-cooked pork shoulder with roasted corn puree, pumpkin seed and pipian sauce. The pork was cooked to tender perfection, making the dish the star of the dinner.

For dessert, my companions and I ordered cinnamon churros and empanadas. Both were simply fabulous, but the churros took the prize. They were fluffy and delicious, and certainly not your standard amusement park treat. Our churro standards have been raised. The four of us devoured six churros in no time.

The highlight of the evening came in the form of a flaming coffee. Our waiter prepared it right at our table, drawing the attention of the entire dining room as flames shot into the air. Once it was prepared, it was positively tasty and the perfect size for sharing.

For a fun, relaxing evening out, La Hacienda is incapable of disappointing. Welcome back, La Hacienda!

If You Go:
La Hacienda
Fairmont Scottsdale
7575 E. Princess Drive, Scottsdale
(480) 585-4848 ext. 7320

Arizona Business Magazine June 2010