Tacos Al Pastor and Platters of Meat, Anyone?

People often ask me how I find out about certain restaurants. Sometimes it can be word of mouth, whereas other times I find myself researching and reading a lot. I read other peoples’ blogs, every restaurant review in town I can get my hands on, and remain a constant on Yelp and Chowhound. It was on the latter where I found a fleeting post to a place by the name of Hacienda Restaurant. (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/668763)

Now before I tell you about Hacienda Restaurant, let me describe to you the logistics associated with getting there. Hacienda Restaurant sits squarely in the shadow of Sunrise Mountain in North Las Vegas on Lake Mead and Christy. Since we live nowhere near there and it’s not near any major highways, it’s quite a coordination activity to get people from multiple sides of the valley there. It can also be somewhat intimidating once you get there but SOOO worth it when you do!

What had intrigued me about Hacienda Restaurant was the discussion about the tacos al pastor being made in the parking lot. This was enough to get some friends together for a Sunday afternoon visit for more meat than should be served at any one sitting.

Hacienda Restaurant is not a particularly ornately decorated restaurant but by no means does it need to be. It has a kind of rustic Mexican hunting cabin look, complete with stuffed animal heads on the walls. The Mexican polka music is blaring but the server will kindly turn it down if need be. As a matter of fact, the service has been nothing but top notch during both visits.

Fun side note – the deer to the left has a flier attached to its nose announcing the recent visit of miniature matadors to the restaurant, complete with a picture of the group. I cannot tell you how upset I was to find out we had missed their visit by only a matter of days!

Our visit did include a visit by a wandering mariachi band from off the street. In this traditionally Mexican neighborhood , it is apparently fairly common for these minstrels to wander from restaurant to restaurant on weekend nights, much to the chagrin of one of our friends who apparently has a mariachi band-phobia of some sort. This is no doubt from some childhood incident but I digress…

Our dinner started with an order of shrimp and cheese wrapped in bacon. I’d like to tell you exactly what this dish is on the menu, but as it happened this was a failed, albeit delicious, attempt at ordering shrimp on toothpicks that we had seen on a previous visit. Needless to say ordering dishes at Hacienda without specifically pointing to the wholly in Spanish menu or a having a proficient grasp of Spanish can be somewhat difficult but isn’t that part of the fun of eating at ethnic restaurants?!?

This brings me to one of my rules of eating – the less English found in an ethnic restaurant, the better the chances of being served authentic cuisine. In a place where the only printed English phrase is “restrooms” it’s a good be you’re eating authentic Mexican food. This rule remains true with Hacienda Restaurant.

Our server brought us a complimentary plate of guacamole to go along with the always-free salsas and frijoles con queso. The guacamole was freshly made with a bit of a kick and not the mayo-laden type that you can encounter at Americanized Mexican restaurants. It was a nice surprise and as such I forgot to get a pic…my bad!

Soon after came the pièce de résistance – the parrilladas de carne or “barbecued meats”. A word of warning on ordering – the menu actually says that this is for three (3) people. Now I’m not certain how large these three people are but I can assure you a group of seven of us couldn’t finish the whole thing.

The dish consists of three types of meat – carne asada, carnitas and pollo – surrounded with fried potatoes, slices of fresh avocado and pieces of queso fresco. It’s served with fresh homemade tortillas and a side of rice and beans. You make your own tacos with any variety of fixings – a ready-made buffet at your table!

Using the Tecate can for context, the meat covers the lid to an aluminum catering tray. As I’d said, we had seven hungry adults take a stab at this and we still had enough for a couple of to-go boxes.

The final part of the meal was the tacos al pastor. Now Hacienda does their parking lot al pastor after 4:00 from Thursdays to Sundays. During our unfortunate first visit we came too early and were stuffed on the aforementioned parrilladas de carne long before 4:00 came, so we were certain to not let that happen again. The tacos did not disappoint with the meet freshly cut from the skewer and garnished with onions, cilantro and salsa. This was a nice treat to complete our meal.

Hacienda Restuarant is well worth the visit no matter what part of the Valley you live in. Both meals have been completely satisfying and very economical during a period where a lot of people are looking to save money. We will be back again in the near future with more friends in tow so we can finally finish the platter of meat at a single sitting – we’re guessing that about 10 of us should do. We’re also looking forward to exploring the rest of the menu during future visits.

Our last visit for a group of seven (7) including the parrilladas de carne ($35), our shrimp appetizer, multiple buckets of Tecate and eight (8) tacos al pastor came to a total of $140 – $109 with a $31 dollar tip.

Hacienda Restaurant is located at 5482 East Lake Mead in North Las Vegas. Take note that when you look them up in Google Maps, it comes up as Hornys Barbque La Hacienda but you’ve got the right place.

Welcome to SplurgeMonkey – A Labor of Love

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m a person who loves good food and drink. I’m the person that my friends call when needing suggestions as to where they should go for good Italian, a place to take the family, or a location for a good cocktail before a show and I’d always been happy to oblige.

Now the questions normally come in my hometown of Las Vegas but I’m fortunate to be in a position where I travel quite frequently on business, so I even get asked for places to eat and drink away from home. I always tell my friends that travel to ask me before they go places because you never know what suggestions I might have.

This blog will be a collection of food and drink observations. Since I live in Vegas I suspect a good majority of the postings will be about Vegas, though I also spend a lot of time in New Orleans, Denver and SoCal, to name a few. I will post about things that I think will be of interest and highlight places I think are worth highlighting, be that for either good reasons or not. I hope you find my writings of interest and that they may spur you of try out new places.

SplurgeMonkey Eats in New Orleans

So my work regularly takes me to New Orleans and though I’ve pretty well stayed away from most of the celebrity chef restaurants in lieu of smaller, local places, I was prompted to go to K-Paul’s at the suggestion of Chef Adolfo Garcia of RioMar. As would be expected from the suggestion of a chef, I was not disappointed.

The meal began with a plate of homemade breads. The offerings were a corn bread muffin, a yeast roll, a blackstrap molasses and pecan muffin and a jalapeno/cheddar roll, going clockwise from the top left. Each was good but the absolute star was the blackstrap molasses and pecan muffin.

As a starter I ordered the Fried Green Tomatoes with Shrimp Caper Dill Remoulade. This was a phenomonal dish. Having lived in the South for a while and being married to a Southern girl, I am quite fond of fired foods in general and fried green tomatoes in particular. This was not a version that disappointed. The chiptole remoulade was nice and contrasted well with the cornmeal batter and the tomatoes were perfectly fried.

Fresh Drum Fish From Louisiana Waters Seasoned and Blackened in a Cast Iron Skillet and Served with Drawn Butter, Potatoes and Veggies

As I had mentioned, the blackstrap molasses muffin was so good I instantly devoured it. My attentive server noticed how much I had enjoyed it and brought me another four, so many in fact that I had some to take back to the hotel with me.

K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen is located in the French Quarter of New Orleans at 416 Chartres Street. It is one of the of the classic New Orleans restaurants and though Chef Paul Prudhomme may no longer be in the kitchen, the cooking still does his name justice. I’d highly suggest checking it out if you have the opportunity.