I was looking red like a lobster as I skipped past a trilogy of fountains flanked by prickly cactus at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. I spent nothing more than an hour lounging by the pool that afternoon and quickly learned of the awesome power of Arizona’s desert sun.
Standing at the entrance to La Hacienda and staring into a mirror, I couldn’t help but break out into a laughing fit as I glanced up at my rouged face. I looked as though I’d spent a month basking in the sun in Capri! Tan fan’s will tell you, there’s no better pairing for a sun burn than Mexican beach vibes served up via snack bite tequila shooters and creamy citrus spiked guacamole. Life Lesson: margarita’s heal all wounds.
Internationally renowned Chef Richard Sandoval owns more than a dozen restaurants around the world. Mexican-born and trained at the Culinary Institute of America, he is considered the “Father of Modern Mexican Cuisine.” His darling La Hacienda at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess has been voted the #1 Mexican restaurant in Arizona, an awesome accolade for a state obsessed with tacos and tequila.
Wandering through the restaurant one quickly feels the breeze of Chef Sandoval’s Baja inspired cuisine which is reflected via Spanish architecture, wood-beamed ceilings, flagstone beehive fireplaces and stunning tequila bar which features over 240 bottles, one of the largest collections in America.
I arrive to our feasting table elated to spot a massive stone bowl filled with fresh guacamole. Moments later I shriek silently to myself after spotting a taxidermied rattle snake, fangs out with a vengeance, slithering through three shot glasses which are filled with tequila, mezcal and sotol. I sat perched on my stool, scooping up guacamole as my fellow guests arrived to the table. In anticipation for snake induced squeals I hid my smirk behind massive nacho.
Once everyone had tucked under the table we were greeted by two platters teaming with chorizo stuffed empanada and lobster adorned tacos. A few of the ladies on my end of the table expressed an insatiable interest in sharing the chorizo and mushroom Queso Fundido. We settled on ordering three of the cast iron skillets, filled with stringy oaxaca and chihuahua cheese gratin which we scooped into fresh tortilla with eyes wide open.
The moment the sun set across the horizon our table filled with a parade of Mexican plates. La Hacienda must try signatures include Carnitas Hacienda (slow braised pork shoulder and crispy chicharron, need I say more?), Filet a la Parilla (grilled beef tenderloin with oaxaca cheese enchiladas and chile pasilla gastricque) and Enchiladas de Mariscos (filled with blue lump crab, shrimp, more oaxaca cheese, chile and topped with poblano cream).
La Hacienda offers a memorable sweet finish where innovative flaming coffees are served tableside so guests can enjoy the drama of a three foot flame shooting towards the ceiling as cinnamon and sugar are tossed into tequila filled glassware. Each sipper is topped with a whisper of whipped cream, best paired with a tower of fluffy churros dipped in vanilla cream, caramel and dark chocolate.
tequila, mezcal, sotol
La Hacienda Margarita
blue agave tequila, triple sec, fresh sour
avocado, tomato, onion, chile serrano, cilantro, tortilla chips
Empanada de Chorizo con Papa
house made chorizo, gold potato, salsa verde, cotija
Tacos de Langosta
maine lobster, black bean, chile de arbol sauce
melted oaxaca, chihuahua cheese, chile morita salsa, chorizo, mushrooms
Ensalada de Betabel
roasted beets, baby arugula, orange supreme, cherry tomato, candied walnuts, apple vinaigrette
slow braised pork shoulder, chicharron, avocado salsa, sweet corn-habanero slaw
Filet a la Parilla
grilled beef tenderloin, oaxaca cheese enchiladas, chile pasilla gastrique
fried seabass, savoy cabbage, chile arbol remoulade, mango salsa
Camarones al Chipotle
gulf shrimp, black bean flatbread, chipotle cream, frisee, sherry reduction
Enchiladas de Mariscos
blue lump crab, shrimp, oaxaca cheese, chile, poblano cream
vanilla cream, caramel, dark chocolate