- BRAND NEW: The redone La Hacienda on Cantrell Road.
The way some friends and Arkansas Times staffers carried on in the wake of La Hacienda shutting down in December 2016 you'd have thought a close friend was in a coma. The Mexican food stalwart, located in Little Rock since 1990 and on Cantrell Road in an old Pizza Hut since 1996, was due for an update. But rather than a touch-up, owner Ignacio Alvarez took down most of the building and started again. When the redone restaurant reopened more than six months later, the celebrations among our crew were rapturous. But does La Ha, as its devotees call it, deserve all the adoration?
Probably. Especially if you highly value speed and cost. It's hard to think of any other restaurant in Little Rock with food as good and plentiful as La Hacienda's where you can be in and out in 30 minutes for 10 bucks or less. The formula is not the standard Tex-Mex ubiquitous in the region, nor is it the authentic Mexican food that's become more prevalent and celebrated in these parts in the past decade. It's somewhere in between. Maybe a kind of re-Mexicanized Tex-Mex, as former Times staffer Benjamin Hardy once suggested. That means the food is fresher and more flavorful than your typical Tex-Mex, but there's no
Instead, the voluminous menu has your standard Tex-Mex offerings — burritos, chalupas,
For entrees, we're fond of the Camarones Veracruz ($9.99 for lunch, $13.99 at dinner), slightly spicy shrimp grilled with peppers and onions and topped with pico de gallo. Flour tortillas are standard; we prefer the corn, which
- A STANDOUT: The slightly spicy Camarones Veracruz.
For one of our recent dining companions, the litmus test for a Tex-Mex restaurant is its fajitas ($7.99 for lunch, $10 for dinner). La Hacienda largely succeeded in that respect, with strips of toothsome and flavorful chicken. An accompanying side of guacamole didn't do much for him. Another, slightly off-beat suggestion for the not-so-adventurous diner: the Milanesa Steak ($9.99 for lunch or $12.99 for dinner), a breaded chicken breast or sirloin steak that's a lot like schnitzel. Just about everything comes with Mexican rice and refried beans topped with shredded cheese. The latter, so often an afterthought, is so good we often order it as a side.
The updated restaurant sure is spiffy. An interior wall that used to bifurcate the restaurant is gone, which opens up
Speaking of peak busy-ness, our friend the regular notes that a waitlist has become common at peak serving times, something she didn't remember seeing in years of dining at La Hacienda.La Hacienda Mexican Restaurant
3024 Cantrell Road
Street-style tacos, once only available off-menu, now have a prominent place among other standard offerings. The two tacos dish (beef, chicken or guacamole) for just $3.99 gives you a cheap option for a small lunch or after-work snack, and you can always eat enough free chips to be more than full. Also, the Margaritas seems to be bigger and stronger than ever before.
11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Full bar. Credit cards accepted.