Returning to a favorite - La Hacienda Real

What keeps us returning to La Hacienda Real?  It's not as if their food (like most of the Mexican restaurants I've visited) is "knock your socks off" amazing.  So I began to ponder that question as N and I scooted into our booth and began our visit Friday night.

When we arrived at 7:30 PM, there were a couple of empty spots in the parking lot.  (Maybe we wouldn't have to wait for a table!)  But upon entering the lobby we discovered 4 other couples and a family of 4 queued up.  The host made eye contact with us, asked "how many" and added our name to the list.  All of us were seated within 12 minutes.  Not only that, but our table was ready with chips, salsa, silverware, water and menus by the time we were led to the back--another plus.

 Two positives come to mind.  First, the owners continually add to the decor in the South Salem building.  The last time we took along some out of town friends, the decor is what they noticed.  Second, N and I have always experienced good service during our visits.  The courteous crew works like a well oiled machine, filling in wherever help is needed.

We sat savoring our margaritas and chips while taking our time with the menu.  I ordered my favorite (I think this is accurate) Las 3 Burritos and N ordered Camerones.  I was happy that a salsa refill arrived without my needing to make a request.  I like to have it on hand to spice up my dinner.

A bright and fresh interior, good service, tasty comfortable food and in our very own neighborhood--what more could a customer ask for?


Gerri said...

I LOVE that there are handmade tortillas there. We usually take out and I get an extra order of tortillas and make some quesadillas or tacos the next day - yummy!

Lise M said...

I would have to say, too, that the tortillas and pico de gallo are a big part of why I love them, but you are right too...I never noticed that I hardly ever have a service problem and the food is ever present (chips refilled and pico de gallo). I think we were ignored once by our waitress and that was in highschool, so we were probably loud and annoying and placed in that extra room near the front.

Anonymous said...

Boy, I'll never understand Salem's love affair with this greasy, gunky, and overly yellow cheesy local chain. There are better places in town.

Anonymous said...

Boring... What I don't understand is why this place has been reviewed FIVE times on this site? Why review a place over and over again? Isn't once enough? Besides we have enough Mexican restaurants in Salem (like 36) to warrant a city name change to (Mexico City perhaps). Or we could change this site name to reviews by KandN since they post most of the reviews on here.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. The raving over this restaurant baffles me. It's so boring and tasteless.

Salem Man said...

if you'd like to help us get more reviews in this town you are welcome to join us. send me an email.

Anonymous said...

It's not about getting more reviews, but rather quality vs. quantity. I'd personally not like to see repeat reviews of the same places by the same posters over and over. I for one can't afford to dine out for breakfast, lunch and dinner and then post about it frequently like the posters KandN do here on this site. In addition in the past I have seen the regulars on here literally drive posters away with their rants about why they disagree with the review. Also, I have seen the regulars on here such as KandN post reviews about out of town restaurants although this site is "eatsalem". Other posters have been chastised for submitting any posts about out of town places and especially for any chain restaurants. It's sad, but people don't care to comment on a place if they will be criticized for it repeatedly. If people would only keep it civil. And as you said, personal attacks do not lead to constructive or even interesting discussion.

'laina said...

Well I, for one, enjoy KandD's reviews, regardless if they're repeat or not. I also enjoy reviews of the local outlying areas. You have two choices- contribute to the reviews with your own, or stop coming here. Whining anonymously isn't productive either.

Anonymous said...

I'm not "whining" I'm merely stating my opinion. I’d just like to see a more varied person /restaurant review by the readers on here. All we are getting is one person’s opinion. Opinions on restaurants can vary greatly from diner to diner. As I stated previously I for one will not contribute to the reviews with my own based solely on the fact that I do dine out at chains (occasionally) and I do dine out of town and the fact that many posters have been read the riot act for submitting posts about out of town places and especially for any chain restaurants. Like I said, I don't care to comment on a place for fear of being criticized for it. I didn't personally attack you; I don't see the need for you to attack me and tell me to stop coming here. What’s the difference if I post anonymously or not? No one really knows each other on here anyway.

Anonymous said...

Hey there, Mama2Dylan! How ya doing??

Lise M said...

Why shouldn't we review places again? You don't get the feel for a place's true quality on your first visit and place change from year to year. I have a review a couple of place over because they hadn't been reviewed in a couple of years. Just like SM said before, you should review places yourself if you want to see something different. Just be prepared for your opinion to be attacked once in a while. Each person has their own opinions of places and they will clash with your own, we are all individuls with different perspectives.

Amecameca said...

La Hacienda may be the best of a dozen or so very boring "Jalisco Style" Mexican restaurants in Salem. Besides being boring they are very unhealthy. Usually halfway through a meal at one of these places it feels like you have a brick in your stomach. That's because you have consumed way more calories than is good for you. I'd love to see reviews of the more authentic Mexican restaurants on the northside of Salem. I'm sure there some hidden gems up there waiting to be discovered.

'laina said...

Anony, I wasn't "attacking", just offering the suggestion that if the site isn't meeting your needs, then either contribute and add some "fresh meat", so-to-speak, or move along and find another site to suit your fancy. I'm personally tired of all the people coming here to complain, when they could just put the same energy into trying a new local restaurant and doing a quick review. Why expect the same few people to do all the reviewing? We like what we like, and we enjoy sharing our experiences with each other. If you want to see a non-chain unique review, do a U-turn in the chain restaurant parking lot and put your dollars where your mouth is.

Here's a quick review:

I ate at locally-owned La Perla Tapatia (Reed Opera House) with a friend the other day. I was surprised with how inexpensive they are! I chose the beef enchiladas, and honestly, was not anywhere near impressed with the quality or taste of the food, even down to the rice and beans. It also had these weird little chunks of pale, bland beef, not as drool-worthy as La Hacienda's seasoned shredded beef. I was pretty disappointed after seeing all the rave reviews on here. La Hacienda is real good, down home-style cooking to me. Perla's food was very $2 Swanson frozen dinner-tasting to me. Before y'all say I don't know what good Mexican food is, don't bother, I've grown up around Mexican home-cooking all my life and I know what I like. My kids, however, LOVE Perla's dollar tacos when they have some extra change and they're hanging out downtown, so I guess that's a plus.

Anonymous said...

laina, I don't review on here (anymore) for 2 reasons. One reason is because unlike the repeat reviewers on here like KandN I simply can't afford to dine out anymore. Our household has been hit hard by job cuts. When the economy was good we dined out no less than once a week. The second reason for not reviewing on here anymore is because of the personal attacks I continually received after each review. I got sick of it. Some people on this blog aren't capable of being civil.

I'm looking for a more diverse opinion of restaurant reviews on here by both more people and more restaurants. Sure I could post more reviews, but what pleasure would I derive by reading my own reviews?

Thanks for the review on La Perla Tapatia. On my way home daily I look up and see that place and have always wondered if it was good. I like Mexican but don't eat it very often. Like Amecameca said, Mexican is so unhealthy. Did you see the last Biggest Loser where they went to Mexican for dinner?

Anonymous said...

I’d personally like to see some or all of the following included in the reviews, such as; address, phone number, hours, meals served, i.e., breakfast, lunch, dinner, style of food, entertainment, vegetarian options, reservations, dress, alcohol/full bar/wines/beers, children’s menu, parking, handicap accessibility, payment types, web address, price range and a brief description of the offerings such as meats, chicken, seafood, pasta or the house specialty. Perhaps more about the food components and less about other non essentials and incidentals. (see Diane Reynolds • Statesman Journal @

James said...

You know, if you like the SJ so much why aren't you reading and contributing on their food blogs? Just a suggestion. Personally I don't think a review should be a posting of their menu. I don't want to read that. That would be very boring. I come to read well written experiences and opinions on restaurants. Location and a little info is nice, but seriously? Not the whole menu and list of services.

Anonymous said...

I never said I "liked" the SJ just citing an example of a guideline for reviews. That's what I love about this site, you make a statement not attacking anyone personally and then get personally attacked for it by being told to go to SJ to read and contribute. And I do read the SJ food section and reviews but they don't allow outside sources to review. Diane Reynolds is a freelance restaurant critic for the Statesman Journal. Reynolds dines unannounced, and meals are paid for by the Statesman Journal.

Read the comment again, I never said "the whole menu" I said a BRIEF description of the offerings such as meats, chicken, seafood, pasta. Here is an example of what I am suggesting;
The menu reflects two distinct personalities: Greek and Italian.
Five combination plates described numerous Greek edibles.
The majority of items on the combination plates could be ordered separately as a full meal ($12.95 to $18.95).
Prawns and salmon represented seafood possibilities ($18.95 to $20.95). High-end meat choices featured lamb chops or a 15-ounce New York steak ($22.95 to $24.95).
All of the dinners came with vegetables and a starch.
The Italian menu offered standards such as lasagna, manicotti, cannelloni and spaghetti ($10.95-$14.95).
Dessert-wise, we requested Greek coffee to go with our baklava (pastry with phyllo, honey and nuts made on the premises, $4.25) and kataifi (vermicelli-like pastry reminiscent of shredded wheat that is sometimes referred to as shredded phyllo also made in house, $4.50). Outsourced alternatives were ice cream, cheesecake or tiramis├╣ ($4.50 to $5.95).

Also a Cost Legend (Average Price/Person) would be helpful;
"Inexpensive" = Generally < $15
"Moderate" = Between $15 & $30
"Expensive" = Generally > $30

Anonymous said...

Not to get in the middle of a vitriolic discussion, but I believe James was referencing the "Forums" section of the S-J where non-staffers (read "outsiders" :-) can indeed comment and contribute their thoughts in the FOOD & DINING forum.