Thursday, August 07, 2008

Hacienda Del Sol - Duluth

Minneapple goes on the Road!
Last weekend I traveled up to my adopted home town of Duluth to join the other hoards of tourists viewing the historic "tall ships."

They were pretty cool. Not standing in line for hours on end cool, but I'd definitely say they were neat. Mostly we just wandered around looking at all of the people. This was people watching on a State Fair kind of level. I saw a spiked haired mullet not unlike a wandering hedgehog and the a fanny pack the size of a steamer ship loaded on the back end of a human pontoon. It was extraordinary.

The weather was gorgeous, too. It was perfectly sunny and no humidity. I'd luckily landed there on one of the five days where the weather is nice. After all the oogling, I was starving. We wanted to have a sit down lunch, but somewhere a little off the beaten path. All of Canal Park was packed, so we decided to head in to town. Matt said he hand a hankering for Hacienda Del Sol and I remembered that they have one of the best patios in town.

The restaurant is located in a cute little store front sort of kitty corner from Fitger's brewery on Superior street. The thin room belies the expansive patio in back. You walk through the room, out the back door and up the steps to a little Mexicano oasis.

It's entirely fenced in and there is barely a view of the lake, but there are trees and landscaping. The walls are covered with Aztech inspired murals and tables are each adorned with a little pot of blooming flowers.

The waitress was kind enough to keep us knee deep in chips and salsa as we waited. All of their food is made from scratch and made to order. The salsa was very fresh and very mild. While Julie was reading us an entertaining story about baby pictures on Facebook from the Weekly Reader, Matt slapped his knife, which spattered the salsa all down the front of him. His pants, shirt, even shoes. He furiously dabbed while we pretended to study the landscape.

I ordered the special, enchiladas rancheros, my mom got the chili rellanos, Julie had the beef enchiladas and Matt ordered the chorizo burrito. Here is what they all looked like:

Good thing the waitress knew who got what because I couldn't tell by first glance. My enchiladas were covered with a chunky tomato sauce and underneath were two corn tortillas wrapped around gooey cheese. The beans were creamy, smokey and lovely. The rice tasted fresh - nothing like that Tex Mex crap you get at most middle of the road restaurants. It was good, if not particularly interesting. Mom gave me a bite of her chili.

The mild green poblano was stuffed with cheese, lightly breaded, fried and served under a blanket of the red sauce. The freshly fried flavor came though, no sodden evidence of ever having been frozen.

I think my favorite dish was actually Julie's enchiladas. She scooped me up a few bites onto the tortilla chips. They were simply ground hamburger with cheese and enchilada sauce, but boy were all of those things done well. On the chip, they were my new favorite nachos.

I wouldn't say that the food is a good enough draw to get me to drive all the way up for a day trip, but it was comforting and familiar in a gorgeous city on the water. The patio should be savored on these few, perfect days of sunshine.


At 10:39 AM , Blogger andy said...

Those are some beautiful ship shots. Who's the photographer?

At 12:05 PM , Blogger Joy Estelle said...

Why do you assume it wasn't me?

At 8:52 AM , Blogger cindyMN said...

Hey there!!
We are heading down to the big TC's this next wk. Would you mind giving me some resturant recommandations? I would love to hear what you think. We'd like to try something different then the normal red lobster or olive garden. something FUN. We have 2 teen daughters. So something not too spendy, but fun in the bloomington/south metro area.
I would love to hear your thoughts!!


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