Home Dining Restaurants Taste Test: La Hacienda & El Chorro Lodge

The past few years have held many ups and downs for the Valley dining world. we’ve seen the opening of some of the state’s most stellar restaurants—but we’ve also experienced the heartbreaking loss of many beloved eateries, sometimes in throngs. Tthis is the story of two longtime favorites that rose from the gourmet graveyard and are once again planting roots in the local dining scene.

 La Hacienda Restaurant

La Hacienda

Though Fairmont Scottsdale certainly wasn’t hurting for a delicious, upscale dining spot (it’s home to Bourbon Steak and The Grill), many Valley dwellers were devastated when La Hacienda closed up shop in 2008. Early this year, La Hacienda re-opened its doors and welcomed a more modern look, a cool tequila bar that displays 110 selections and a whole new menu.

Famed chef Richard Sandoval is now at the helm alongside the talented Executive Chef Forest Hamrick, who worked at La Hacienda during its AAA Four-Diamond heyday. Together, they dish out some of the Valley’s top Modern Mexican fare. For starters, the queso fundido with melted Oaxaca, Chihuahua and gouda cheeses (get it with mushrooms and chorizo) should commence every Mexican meal. The tamal de huitlacoche and empanadas de camaron were also incredibly delicious, with the tamale being more savory and rich and the shrimp turnovers being more sweet and light.

Seafoodies will love the huachinango a la veracruzana or the pistachio, chili and ancho-crusted tuna as their main dish.

The dishes’ sides had their ups and downs: the red snapper featured a yummy smoked bacon fufu, while the tuna plate’s green apple salad was a bit bitter. The best dish, though, was the filet a la parilla. The beef tenderloin was impeccably flavored with brown sugar and coriander and paired with yummy Oaxaca cheese enchiladas. All together, the filet a la parilla is now one of our favorite steak dishes in the Valley.

The La Hacienda love keeps on growing right through dessert. Our three favorite after-dinner delights were the bomba de chocolate, the flan de coco and the cinnamon churros. The first plate featured an incredible anise, banana and chocolate mousse—a unique treat for any chocolate lover. The coconut flan, topped with mango, made for a divine summery treat. (Plus, the mini coconut that crowned the flan was just too-cute.) But our favorite, the cinnamon churros, truly ended our evening with a bang. The warm churros were paired with three devilishly good dipping sauces: cajeta, chili-chocolate fondue and cream cheese natilla. The cajeta (which is a caramel sauce made from goat’s milk) and the natilla were sweet and creamy while the fondue offered a spicy kick. Sticky buns and churros, eggs Benedict and queso fundido—what great ways to say “welcome back.”

La Hacienda Fairmont Scottsdale, 7575 E. Princess Dr., Scottsdale. 480.585.4848, www.fairmont.com/scottsdale.