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She Said: Scottsdale’s La Hacienda looks different, but food is still delicious

(Facebook/La Hacienda)

The end of September brings the highly anticipated reopening of La Hacienda at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess. The Valley favorite, which continues to be voted the No. 1 Mexican restaurant in Arizona, got a complete expansion and update to its design and menu. I was invited to a “sneak peak” media night as the unveiling of the remodel and menu unfolded.

I was hearing mixed reviews around town about the revamp of La Hacienda as locals were nervous the restaurant they knew and loved would lose the comfortable familiarity that has kept them loyal for decades. General Manager Jack Miller assures there is no need to worry. “The leadership at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess is committed to making sure the heritage and history of this local dining landmark is honored while bringing the design and menu forward. We are determined to make sure La Hacienda continues to be the top-ranked Mexican restaurant in Arizona for another generation.”

As I arrived, the first things I noticed were the new entrance and the new color scheme of the outdoor patio furniture. Black and white tables, chairs and cushions give a clean, modern and spacious feel. The interior has clearly changed — but don’t worry, the La Hacienda warmth still exists. An inviting lounge greets you as well as a newly expanded bar that includes communal tables. Modern furnishings with accessories sourced from Mexico gives off an authentic feel. My favorite “added touch” was the black matte utensils.

The most popular menu items are still available including Lobster Tacos, Filet a la Parilla, Tableside Guacamole and Flaming Coffees, which we got to sample. The esquites guacamole was a highlight, mixed with sweet corn, cultured cream and cojita.

But it was the new dinner menu items that I was most excited to try. Chefs Forest Hamrick and Richard Sandoval briefly spoke, telling us about the time they took visiting their families along with several hot, new restaurants in Mexico for inspiration and R&D for La Hacienda. As the gorgeous food arrived, I knew we were in for a treat. My favorite dish was the short rib barbacoa with tamarind mustard barbecue, gremolata and poblano yogurt. It was exploding with flavor and I could tell with each bite the time and energy put into this one dish. Another dish that stood out was the smoked adobe vhicken, brined for 24 hours and smoked for 4 hours, this chicken was incredibly tender with enticing smoky hints. The pear and fig Capirotada for dessert was delectable. With vanilla bean crema, cherry compote and pecan streusel, I could have eaten three of these.

An exciting new cocktail menu is also being introduced by Matthew Doerr, the director of beverage, offering 21 specialty cocktails. La Hacienda will feature more than 150 tequilas with a significant expansion of its Mezcal cellar, all curated by tequila Goddess, Katie Schnurr.

Long story short: Carve out time to go experience the updated La Hacienda. Savor the delicious classic and modern Mexican recipes as you take in all the new décor. I have no doubt this Valley favorite will once again be ranked at the top of Mexican restaurants in Arizona.

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