Hacienda Mexican Restaurant : 9748 Manchester Road : 962-7100

Hacienda Mexican Restaurant in Rock Hill has been a fixture on the local dining scene for decades. In recent years, the restaurant has added tons of covered and uncovered outdoor seating (obscuring the interesting original building, in fact), and has become well-known for its happy hours, margaritas and Cinco De Mayo celebrations. So much so, that we’ve (kind of) lost track of its menu. So recently we went back to see how the bill of fare has held up since our last visit.

     Finding your way inside can be an adventure, since it’s necessary to wind through the labyrinth of the covered patio to gain entrance to the restaurant proper. The interior of Hacienda is a riotous mishmash of colors, textures and decor. Love it or hate it, it’s certainly distinctive.

    Hacienda bills itself as serving up authentic Mexican cuisine. We won’t get into the whole ‘authentic’ debate here, but in our opinion, the menu has a great selection of items that won’t be found in certain chain restaurants with south-of-the-border themes. Take the Ceviche ($8). This traditional dish, popular all over Latin America, has fresh tilapia marinated in lemon juice and tossed with a variety of herbs and spices. It’s a light, flavorful starter that we very much enjoyed. We also tried a half-order of the Chicken Flautas ($6). One thing we noticed, and appreciated, about the menu was the abundance of items that are available as half-orders, providing a great opportunity for sampling a wider variety of food. We followed with a cup of the Pozole ($5). Again, this traditional Mexican soup, featuring chicken, pork and hominy, makes a good case for Hacienda’s ‘authentic’ claim—you won’t find it everywhere. We would have liked a little more meat and a little less hominy, but it was good, nonetheless. 

    We ordered the Barbacoa ($12) and the half-size Crabmeat Enchilada Dinner ($9) for our main courses. The barbacoa, a Mexican roast beef, was a tender, slow-cooked delight that melted in our mouths. It wasn’t overly spiced, and the true flavor of the meat really came through. It came with Guadalajara rice, refried beans and some nicely spiced baby carrots. The enchilada, which came with Spanish rice and refried beans, was stuffed with sweet, delicious crab smothered in a queso sauce, and made for a really full plate, despite being a half-order. We decided to add a tamale on the side, and it was the only disappointment we had: We found it dry.

    In past visits we’ve enjoyed Hacienda’s Sopapillas and Fried Ice Cream for dessert. This time around, we took advantage of some new mini desert items, the Churros and Chocolate ($3) and the Mango Cream ($3). Churros are essentially cigar-shaped Mexican doughnuts that are fluffy on the inside and dusted with cinnamon and sugar. Our order of four churros came with a side of chocolate dipping sauce. The combination was sweet but not overly so, and the portion was small enough for us to enjoy without feeling too guilty, or overstuffed!  We enjoyed the mango cream for the same reasons.

    We’re glad to report that Hacienda still has a lot more to offer than drink specials! If you haven’t made it over in a while, it’s worth the trip. LN