It's a warm late summer night, and the Mystery Diner is in the mood for some authentic Mexican specialties without a long drive.
We found just the perfect spot.
Hacienda El Dorado is a cozy, hidden gem in a quiet neighborhood in Montgomery loud with flavor.
The Mystery Diner and my three companions entered the storefront restaurant, settled into our booth and were promptly greeted by a cheery waitress who offered us chips and salsa. The chunky salsa had just enough seasoning and the crunchy chips were the perfect way to whet our palate for what was to come. My companions also enjoyed drinking the Jarritos sodas out of the bottle.
Hacienda El Dorado features a vast menu with all of the Mexican cuisine favorites. Six different meats are available in burritos, seven different tostada options, nine different authentic homemade torta sandwiches, hand-made enchiladas, five different quesadillas and even the traditional Mexican soup Menudo is sold by the gallon, half-gallon or plate.
The Mystery Diner opted for my longtime favorite, the Carne Asada Mexican steak dinner. I first was introduced to carne asada, a marinated skirt steak, many years ago at a close friend's family barbecue. It's been my go-to ever since when trying out Mexican restaurants, and Hacienda El Dorado didn't disappoint! The skirt steak, well done, has a texture unique to other steaks, with plenty of flavor and just enough salt. I devoured the plentiful portion, which is served with a side of refried beans, rice, salad and either flour or corn tortillas.
Two of my companions are known to enjoy fajitas when joining me on excursions to Mexican restaurants, and they went that route again. Unlike fajitas available at other restaurants, these did not come out sizzling – but they still crackled with flavor. Ample servings of chicken, onion and green peppers blended well with the lettuce on the flour tortillas, with rice and beans again on the side. My companion enjoyed in particular the fluffy Mexican rice.
Our fourth dining companion, who can never get enough tacos wherever we go, cashed in at Hacienda El Dorado. He ordered a pork, chicken and steak taco, but was not quite adventuresome enough to go for the Tacos Lengua (cow tongue). When he was all done, he was so pleased with his choice that he ordered another helping of three. Hacienda El Dorado even runs dollar taco specials – you can't beat that!
Hacienda El Dorado also offers three different kinds of homemade tamales, of which our friend tried the chicken tamales with green sauce.
While dining in, we could not help but notice the Hacienda El Dorado's bustling takeout business, which the Mystery Diner stored away as a possibility when I'm in the neighborhood again. The restaurant also provides a catering service.
For authentic Mexican cuisine close to home in Montgomery, the Mystery Diner highly recommends Hacienda El Dorado.
• The Mystery Diner is a newsroom employee at the Record Newspapers. The diner’s identity is not revealed to restaurant staff before or during the meal. The Mystery Diner visits a restaurant and then reports on the experience. The Mystery Diner is not intended to be a restaurant critic but does highlight the parts of a dining experience that he/she can recommend.