April 10, 2015

The Fork and the Photo: La Hacienda

by April Haines, Photos by Cherie Haines

The Rules: We visit random eateries in Bastrop County searching for awesome food, amazing atmospheres, and excellent service. We have to ask a server what they suggest and whatever it is, we must try it. Then, we rate the restaurant using our five fork system (like stars, but better) based on service, atmosphere, food taste and presentation, and general cleanliness.

Our next adventure brings us to the balcony patio at La Hacienda, where a perfect sunset is just getting ready to kiss the sky goodnight and a cool breeze is wafting in scents of spring and fajitas.

The waiter arrives, and we tell him about our mission. He is fun and friendly and eagerly gives us drink ideas. Cherie gets a virgin Piña Colada, and I select a Mango Margarita. Chips and salsa arrive, and I'm surprised and delighted by the spice level. The salsa is bold and flavorful with a bite of jalapeño. The chips are crisp and plentiful.

Our drinks arrive, and I dive into mine. The mango is well mixed, and it's the perfect size, but I find myself wishing it was a bit stronger and a little less sweet. Cherie's Piña Colada is also sugary sweet and being non-alcoholic, has little to no real substance to it.

Our waiter suggests the La Hacienda Trio, a set of queso, picadillo beef, and guacamole for our appetizer. Due to Cherie's allergy to avocado, we sub an extra queso for the guacamole. It is delicious, the queso perfectly blended and warm with just a hit of spice, and the picadillo beef savory and tasty.

Our waiter returns and suggests the pollo poblano for Cherie and the chicken chimichanga for me. While we wait, we take in the great atmosphere. Flamenco guitar plays quietly over the speakers, and the lighting is soft and warm. I can see myself sitting on this patio all summer long. The staff is amazing, helpful, and friendly. Our chip basket is never empty, and while the price isn't low, I do have to say the portions are great and could easily serve more than the two of us.

Our dinner arrives, and I am delighted to see that mine is smothered in the wonderful queso. Cherie's is equally covered in Monterey Jack cheese and heaping with rice and beans. I take my first bite and realize that this is my perfect food. I should preface my description by telling the world at whole that I have an ongoing love affair with queso. Not only is it smothered in queso and ranchero sauce, it is also filled with melted Jack cheese and perfectly seasoned tender chicken breast all wrapped in a somewhat crispy flour tortilla. The rice is well cooked and equally well seasoned, and I love every single bite of it.

Cherie's chicken is less exciting but still good. I just would have liked a little more flavor, as the poblano sauce was a little on the bland side. However, the chicken is tender and juicy, tossed with mushrooms and tomatoes.

We finish the evening with flan for dessert. It's rich and creamy with strong notes of caramel and vanilla. It was the perfect way to finish our meal.

All in all, it was a pleasant evening with a delightful atmosphere and delicious queso, and we can't wait to go back.

Location: 1800 Walnut Street in Bastrop
Rating: 4 out of 5 forks

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