Nacho love

Photo By Gabriel Doss

Rating: Bean-filled

When I used to live in the northwest area of Reno, I often called up the Hacienda Restaurant & Bar at 9:20 p.m., frantically trying to get a last- minute to-go order in. Since they close the kitchen at 9:30, it was usually a fairly tight squeeze.

Now that I live in south Reno, it is no longer possible for me to call in and send the kitchen workers—who were probably almost done putting food away—scrambling for a last minute order of Nachos Supreme and a chimichanga combo for my fiance. But I still try to get up to the Hacienda a couple of times a month.

Why would I drive way out of my way, passing three or four other good Mexican food restaurants, to the Hacienda? That’s simple. It’s the nachos. While my standard for Mexican food at small, hole-in-the-wall type places is a burrito, at a more traditional restaurant, it’s the nachos or taco salad, both of which the Hacienda excels at.

I absolutely love beans on my nachos. But far too often, if they are even offered as a topper for nachos, the beans are in one giant clump at the bottom, and the diner cannot reach them until the mound has been dented. Sometimes I feel like a turn-of-the-century miner trying to build tunnels made out of chips to reach the beany treasure.

But at the Hacienda, beans are spread over the entire plate—no place is left untouched. Serve that up with red enchilada sauce, cheese, tomatoes, green onions, sour cream and guacamole, and I’m set.

And for the price—$6.50 for a full order with either beans, ground or shredded beef or chicken—I get two meals out of it. A person with a smaller appetite could easily get three to four meals out of one full plate of Nachos Supreme. Those are Taco Bell prices at a real restaurant.

While 90 percent of the time I’ll order nachos, the Hacienda’s taco salad is no slouch either. Tons of vegetables are piled on top of beans in a fluted, crispy shell. And the lettuce they use isn’t the limp iceberg type that so many restaurants rely upon because of its price. Hacienda uses a green leaf lettuce that tastes fresh, like it was washed just for your order.

Another thing I like about the taco salad is the choice of several dressings to add to the flavor, like an avocado dressing that works wonderfully for the taco salad.

For meat eaters, my fiance (and RN&R associate editor) Adrienne Rice recommends the chimichanga. The deep-fried roll stuffed with chicken is almost always what she orders. It’s a good-sized chimichanga, and she always leaves some on the plate.

One last great thing about the Hacienda: Many nights of the week after the kitchen closes, they provide some great entertainment. Something’s going on most nights.

I recommend checking out The Collective—a group of the University of Nevada, Reno’s music faculty members playing jazz on Thursdays.