My husband and I had been trying to get to Hacienda on each of our last few trips but always canceled because we were too “fooded out” late in our trip, or were having too much fun at the parks to leave. This time we finally made it and we really enjoyed the food. Which poses a dilemma for us, because they do not accept Tables in Wonderland.
But first, the food and drink. We started with iced teas, and I ordered a Mango Blueberry Basil Margarita as well (“Exotico 100% agave premium silver Tequila, coconut rum, orange juice, mango puree, blueberries and basil, served on the rocks with a Tajin chili powder rim”). All I can say is WOW! Sweet and tart at the same time, you can really taste the tequila and the chili powder rim pulls it all together. The meal started with chips and salsas – a tart tomatillo sauce and a spicier red. I had thought that we would go for one of the two La Parrillada platters – the Del Mar, which features fish, shrimp, and scallops, or the La Hacienda, which includes chorizo, flank steak and chicken. But I don’t eat scallops and neither of us eat chorizo, and there is no option to mix and match, which is a shame. So instead, my husband ordered the Pollo al Pastor – “Achiote marinated chicken served with roasted vegetables and pineapple relish”, and served with black beans (perfect – and lucky for me he was willing to share) and rice. He cleaned his plate; the chicken had excellent grill marks and a fresh grilled flavor, which paired nicely with the pineapple relish. The only issue with this dish is that not only is there a pineapple relish, but also a pineapple sauce, which makes the dish quite sweet. He will likely ask that the sauce and relish be placed on the side next time. I ordered a side salad, the Ensalada de la Hacienda – “spinach salad with queso fresco, tomatoes, pomegranate, pine nuts and avocado, with mustard vinaigrette dressing”. This was the best salad that I have had in a long time, every element adding to the total package – sweet, tart, savory, creamy, crunchy. I also ordered the Gorditas – “corn cakes stuffed with chorizo, potatoes, and arugula, topped with chipotle sauce and sour cream”. The corn cakes were quite flavorful, with the arugula serving as a nice peppery foil to the chipotle sauce. I asked our server if I could substitute chicken for the chorizo, and she checked with the kitchen and it was fine. Note that this is the first restaurant we have eaten at in WDW in which the cast members seem not to be empowered to OK such simple substitutions; note also that the restaurant is not Disney-owned. In the real world I don’t do a lot of substitutions in restaurants, but part of the magic at The World is the fact that Disney goes above and beyond to make their “guests” (not “customers”) happy. One way to do this is to give servers the ability to substitute with ease, and for diners to swap proteins (for example in the platters, which are priced the same whether the meat or fish options); something that the management of Hacienda would do well to emulate.
We very much enjoyed our meal, the restaurant is comfortable and relaxed, and our server was just fine. But our big dilemma (aside from the substitution issue) is that Hacienda no longer accepts the Tables in Wonderland (20% discount) card. We were able to get a 10% DVC discount, but on food only, not the lovely margarita, and the drink by itself was $13.50. Given that so many of our favorites do accept TIW (all of the signatures, Kouzzina, Sanaa, etc), it will be difficult to justify dollar-wise eating here as often as we would like to do based on the food alone. Perhaps that is something else that the management can reconsider, given the number of competitors that do accept TIW. Until then, the awesome salad and margarita will probably call us back only on occasion.
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