Reunited and it feels so good. That Peaches and Herb song takes me right back to the ‘80s when I first discovered Hacienda del Lago in Tahoe City’s Boatworks Mall. What do I remember about this dining establishment from way back when? Well, I was newly arrived at the legal age to drink, and they had incredible margaritas, so my recollection of time spent at Hacienda is peppered with big hair, elbow room only at the bar and my fear that somehow one of my shoulder pads had become dislodged. Lopsided appearance aside, I do remember a good time was definitely had by all, and it was a gloomy day when this restaurant closed its doors (it had nothing to do with my behavior) leaving us with a view-less void that was very hard to fill. So happy and carefree were my Hacienda del Lago years (yes, years) that, when they re-opened in 2012 in the same fabulous location overlooking the same beautiful Lake Tahoe, I did not immediately revisited them, thinking there is no way they could live up to the Hacienda of my youth. I was wrong. They are better than ever (That makes two of us. Please note my relaxed hair in the above photo.).
The interior of Hacienda del Lago is still warm and inviting, with floor-to-ceiling windows offering all guests a killer lake and marina view. The atmosphere is festive, but not crazy (again, maybe it is me). The wait staff is friendly and efficient.
The food is as superb as a couple decades ago and, as I was with a semilarge party, I got to sample quite a bit of it. For my selection, I went right to my usual Hacienda favorite from way back when, the tostada. Here this cantina has improved on an old classic. First of all, they offer six different tostadas topped with your choice of chili Colorado, carne asada or chili verde – just to name a few. All are layered with the standard refried beans, cheese and lettuce, but the lettuce is tossed with a chipolte vinaigrette I found quite light and refreshing. I plan on working my way down their tostada menu this summer while the weather is predicting “salads.” The poor guy seated to my right ordered the Chimis del Mar. I say “poor guy” because I really loved his entree and found myself becoming one of those girls I hate that eats off someone else’s plate (“just a bite”). I almost lost an arm, but it was worth it. His chimichanga was stuffed with fish, crab and cheese, grilled, covered in a red chili sauce and then topped with guacamole (very flavorful and fresh) and sour cream.
My party was seated on the lower level of the restaurant, just a short walk to the upper level and the bar area, which, despite my absence, seemed to be alive and well for the next generation. Ahhh, memories... I wish I had them. Bottom line: Forget that old adage “you can’t go back.” I did, and I will again.