Hacienda: As Mexican as it can get
Why is it that so many good Mexican and Latin-themed restaurants have been cropping up on the radar recently? Maybe it’s because the taste is really close to the Filipino palate, or maybe because we know the stuff on the menu are steeped in history and tradition. Or maybe it’s just the homey atmosphere of these restaurants, coupled with traditional Filipino hospitality.
Recently, the Hacienda Comida y Cócteles (food and cocktails) opened its doors. It is a Mexican restaurant in BGC that I highly recommend for those seeking sumptuous, authentic flavors! Enter the establishment and you already know that you’re not getting cheap imitations made with prepackaged mixes and shortcuts. On the walls you can see the various items that the owner, DJ Steve Mills, has collected over time during his travels to Mexico. And indeed, everything on the menu is prepared using both ingredients and techniques from Mexico!
If the name “Steve Mills” rings a bell, that’s because it’s the same DJ that raised the roof in party havens like Mars, Pravda, Wasabi, V Bar, and Absinth. Now he’s going for his dream of launching an original concept as a restaurateur. So how is this Canadian DJ doing with his Mexican resto venture in the Philippines? Simply put, amazingly!
Crafting the Mexican Taste
Steve’s “unique vision” of a Mexican restaurant is executed in part by his point man in the kitchen, Anthony Bourdain-approved Chef Francisco Alejandri. Steve met Chef Alejandri during his travels, and the latter has made a name for himself in Toronto for cooking up some mean feasts and for teaching at the prestigious Stratford Culinary Institute.
Hacienda’s menu contains some items pretty new to the Filipino taste. The starters include buttered and spiced shrimp, and cheese-clad chorizo along with more familiar fare like pico de gallo and chicken wings. The house specialties include “menudo” (made with beef brisket, pork hock, and tripe — definitely not the version we know here in the Philippines!) along with dishes of fish, shrimp, and steak all seasoned with mouth-watering Mexican spices. There are also some very familiar tastes, like the camarones which is quite like gambas except for its buttery base. And if you don’t like rice, there’s also the similarly delicious Mexican-style baked pasta! It’s like spaghetti, but it has a tarty flavor that goes well with everything else on the menu.
And of course, what kind of Mexican restaurant could live without tacos? There are different strokes for different folks, with pork, chicken, fish, and eggplant feelings. And unlike most of those run-off-the-mills “Mexican” fastfood, these tacos do not taste all the same. In fact, you can appreciate all of the ingredients that went here, from the fresh shell to the tasty meat. The fish is considerably lighter, the pork has a grilled-like taste, and the chicken is highlighted by the sweet sauce. There are nachos, too, which are just delightful when dipped in either queso fundido (some type of fondue-like cheese) or traditional guacamole (because what self-respecting Mexican resto does not invest in good guacamole?).
There are no burritos in the menu, but for those looking for meat and rice there’s the carne asada. This is a serving of perfectly juicy beef slices served with rice and a kind of mashed bean side-dish. There’s also the pescado empapelado, which looks like pizza but is actually a mouthwatering rendition of fried fish!
For those with a hankering for sweet stuff, there are traditional Mexican desserts including “Donas”, a donut type pastry with house-made sauces. There’s the tres leches, too, with a base of sweet cream that is refreshing after the savory main course. For the more adventurous, the brownies are compact little squares of chocolate dropped into a puddle of tequila-spiked caramel.
Overall, Hacienda’s menu isn’t as extensive as those of other restaurants. But once you get a taste of what they have to offer, that hardly becomes a factor. The hefty servings and the impressive taste combine to make for a hearty and filling dining experience!
And yes, like any proper Mexican meal, we kept reaching for the hot sauce for the soft and juicy meats we were served. The Valentina hot sauce has all that spicy flavor without the intense heat — perfect for everyone!
Steve’s Hidden Passion
Steve has already taken an unusual turn with setting up this little paradise of Mexican meals, but he keeps on surprising us with the hidden specialties of tVisit Sitehe house: alcohol! While the meals were sumptuous, the drinks were undoubtedly the best part of the experience. We had all the drinks we wanted, and after the casual margaritas I wanted something more adventurous. So I asked Steve to surprise me. Lo and behold, he made me a Caesar — a distinctly Canadian cocktail! I had fallen in love with Caesars since I was introduced to it by my friend Emma some years back. I’m so glad I had it here, too, and as authentic as can be!
For the Family
This Mexican restaurant in Forbes Town BGC is surrounded by a lot of posh names. However, DJ Steve says that Hacienda is not out to compete with those big names in terms of market. Instead, the owner-operator hopes to attract families and groups. This makes perfect sense, as the ambience is definitely suited to this segment. Hacienda is also going to open its second floor, which can cater to larger crowds and could host events.
DJ Steve knows a lot about history, especially about the history connecting Mexico and the Philippines (it’s part of why it’s so fun to talk to him!). This is why he knows that for both countries, food is best enjoyed not by yourself but with those closest to you. It’s the secret ingredient to the perfect meal. His goal is for Hacienda to be that go-to place which you can visit if you wish to bond over a hearty Mexican meal. And by the looks of it, he has definitely succeeded.
Address: Forbes Retail, Forbes Town Center, Burgos Circle, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City
Instagram : https://www.instagram.com/haciendamnl