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All photos by Samantha Moss

One of the most enjoyable aspects of downtown Peterborough, that we have likely all enjoyed at one time or another, is the presence of hidden gem restaurants – especially in the café district down along Hunter Street.

When speaking of exceptional restaurants in this area, you would be absolutely loco if you overlooked the truly authentic Mexican cuisine offered at the family owned and operated La Hacienda.

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With a warm and entirely convincing Mexican styled atmosphere as soon as you walk in the door, from the festive music playing to the quaint wicker tables, you can really lose yourself in your surroundings that owners have clearly worked so hard to achieve.

Now for the actual food. I have been to the restaurant prior to this week, but this time I decided on the enchilada platter.

Firstly, I would like to note how quickly our food arrived, probably within 10 minutes. This gave us a perfect amount of time to enjoy a few freshly baked complimentary chips with our choice of two sauces that come standard with any trip to La Hacienda.

Upon arrival, I immediately took notice of the beautiful plating arrangement, as well as how much food I was actually getting myself into.IMG_2966

Four chicken enchiladas wrapped in soft tortilla shells were drizzled with two exceptional sauces, and topped off with some fresh produce. Freshly made, authentic brown beans were on the side, along with a scoop of perfectly seasoned brown rice. Although after vowing to leave no enchilada behind, I admittedly couldn’t possibly get through all of the rice.

By the end of it I thought I might burst at the seams. Nursing a delectable food baby, Arthur managed to speak with owner and operator, Sandra Arciniega.

“We are a family owned and operated restaurant and we have been in business in Peterborough coming up on fourteen years as of this July,” Arciniega expressed.

When asked about the name of the restaurant, Arciniega gave a heartwarming response.

“It means a lot if you’re travelling through Mexico. It means welcoming, home, tradition. But it really translates to a big state home.”

Having never seen or eaten any Mexican cuisine quite like what is available at La Hacienda, Arthur had to ask Arciniega about the recipes and where exactly they had come up with them, in other words, what was her secret? The answer didn’t surprise me, but I was satisfied nonetheless.

“All of our recipes are from my family and are traditional from scratch recipes like we would do in Mexico and all prep is done here as well,” explained Arciniega.

It’s no secret that the utilization of local industry in Peterborough and the surrounding area is a prime concern for most businesses in the area, and in interviewing other business owners throughout the city, Arthur is always curious to see if that mentality is shared throughout.

When asked if La Hacienda subscribed to this Peterborough way of thinking, it seemed that since being in Peterborough for close to two decades now has really permeated her business model as well.

“Our produce comes from local farmers, but a lot of our peppers come from a supplier straight from Mexico.”

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed my experience at La Hacienda.

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The atmosphere is fun and bright, and you really believe you could have just been dropped into the heart of Mexico for a bite to eat. From the décor to the food itself, there weren’t any slip-ups in authenticity.

The friendly and attentive staff only added to the experience. I would highly recommend checking out this hidden gem in downtown Peterborough the next time you feel like treating yourself.

However, one thing to be aware of is, due to the effort made to truly authenticate this foreign cuisine, the prices maybe be a little on the steeper side than some of the more common restaurants downtown.

Then again, if you don’t want the true taste and experience of Mexican cuisine, go to Taco Bell instead.

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