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Restaurant Happenings - March 2005

La Hacienda
574 North Main
Moab UT 84532
(435) 259-6319

La Hacienda
Twenty Five Years of Tortillas and More!
by Deirdre O. Keating

When La Hacienda owners, Lauren and Jeff Davis, first opened their kitchen twenty five years ago, they had no idea what a mainstay their place would become, even as Moab itself changed. Originally more of a counter café that served “gringo” dishes to truckers, La Hacienda is now a festive haven with authentic, well-prepared, home-style Mexican food.

That home-style food and service comes from that fact that the restaurant remains a family enterprise. Lauren and Jeff are actively involved, and their son, Jarrod, is the kitchen manager and lead chef. In fact all four of the Davis children have worked at La Hacienda, and even the non-related employees have been there for years and feel like family. No other restaurant in town has had the same management for as long!

The beautiful décor is the result of a family effort as well. When the entire place was remodeled in the 1990s, Jeff did all the woodwork, and Lauren added eclectic pieces from local finds, as well as goods brought back from trips to Mexico. Today the place is a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds, with gorgeous purple walls greeting you, awash in Mexican and Spanish collectibles. The dining room, with a striking Diego Rivera print and a mural by Jeff himself, remains intimate with fourteen tables, while the entry area has small tables, perfect for a margarita and appetizer when waiting for a table.

Still, even with its relaxed, warm atmosphere, it is the food that keeps locals coming back. Their salsa has a reputation of its own, in high demand and consumed in great quantities. Nothing else is pre-made, making every dish a fresh delight. Known for their generous plates, and unique dishes like Lobster enchiladas, La Hacienda makes an effort to keep prices at a level that all can afford. Their specials, which include Taco Tuesdays (85 cent tacos from 11 am till 2 pm) and Fajita Fridays (your choice of beef or chicken for only $7.99), have expanded with Wenchilada Wednesdays, offering a selection of enchiladas and sauces for $2.00 each, from 11 am to 2 pm.

Customer favorites include the Carnitas, a seasoned pork dish that is grilled with onions, red and green bell peppers and tomatoes. This dish comes with all the fixings, including sour cream, guacamole, rice, beans, tortillas, soup or salad for $10.00. The Lobster enchiladas are stuffed with real lobster meat and then topped with queso salsa and avocado.

The menu also offers four kinds of tacos (fish, pork, steak or chili), four different enchiladas, chili rellenos, burritos and more. There are still “Gringo Favorites” involving burgers and fries, chicken sandwiches or a boneless pork steak.

And, in case you haven’t heard, it is possible to eat Low-Carb and still enjoy Mexican food at La Hacienda. Among the many choices, they serve Fajita Salad, as well as a Cobb salad and a Grilled Pescado salad with your choice of halibut or salmon. The Grilled Chicken salad can easily be served without the taco shell.

Halibut and salmon are also available as steaks, and La Hacienda even offers lettuce cup tacos that come with halibut, seasoned chicken, or beef. If you prefer to avoid meat rather than carbs, the menu asks you to “please let us know” if you are a vegetarian, and dishes can easily be adjusted, as everything is made fresh, per order.

Moab has practically doubled in size since Jeff and Lauren started, but most of the changes have been welcome. “I couldn’t get fresh cilantro for years, and had to use dry herbs,” remembers Lauren. That’s hardly the case today, and while there are still trucks that park across the street to enjoy the fare, the place has become a favorite with both tourist and locals. Their guiding principal over the past twenty-five years has been to be thankful for every customer that joins them. The best advertisement remains word of mouth, according to Lauren, who says, “We rely on the answer many people give when asked, ‘Where’s the best place to eat around here?’” If you’re in the mood for good food at good prices in a relaxed environment, now you know where to go.

Recipe of the Month

La Hacienda Restaurant

“Pigs in a Poncho”

Jeff was known for his creative breakfast dishes, back when the place used to open at 6 am every day. Now they open at 11 am, but breakfast is still available all day.

4 link sausages
2 flour tortillas
10”2-4 Tbsp sour cream
¼ cup grated cheddar cheese
¼ cup total of diced tomatoes,
green onion, bell pepper
2 eggs
1 baked potato

Cook sausage and set aside. Lay out tortillas. Spread in equal amounts onto the tortillas: sour cream, cheese, cup of veggies, and cooked sausage. Roll up the tortillas. Dice baked potato and cook until brown in skillet. Cook eggs. Place rolled tortillas on plate with eggs and potatoes.

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