The Cool Place to Hang Out This Summer
By Tracy Dietlin
Upon my first visit to Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club, I did not know what to expect, but I did have some preconceived ideas that were quickly squashed. I assumed that it would only be for young hipsters and skinny beautiful model types. I figured we would have a quick drink and appetizer and make a speedy exit. Wow!! Was I not only wrong in my assumptions, but pleasantly surprised and in fact I was very impressed.
I was correct in thinking that the property would be aesthetically pleasing but who knew it would have such a cool vibe. From the time we arrived we commented on the simplistic beauty of the property and pool which is decorated in (persimmon) red lounges and silver chairs. There are ample amounts of chairs and lounges around the pool, tables for dining, an outside bar, DJ booth, grassy knoll and private cabanas. It was refreshing to see the diverse crowd at the pool that included all ages, shapes, and sizes, making anyone feel comfortable hanging out there.
We began our fabulous Hacienda experience with a margarita at the outdoor bar. All drinks are handcrafted with fresh ingredients sans the ‘in the bottle mixers’. We took our drinks inside and strolled through the establishment. I remembered being in that building many years ago when it was the old Cedar Creek Inn and it was now unrecognizable, with vibrant artwork and murals painted by Angelina Christina, who has become one of my favorite artists. There is a large bar and cocktail area inside along with several different dining sections. There is also a private room which is like a hidden gem that sits behind beautifully crafted double doors. This room will be used for dancing as it has a platform with a DJ booth and would be perfect for private events.
We were seated at a table by the window with a view of the pool so we felt like we weren’t missing out on any of the outdoor action, but able to enjoy the cool indoor air.
Our server, Robert Pimentel, was friendly and knowledgeable and made us feel like family before we even ordered. We would start off by enjoying their homemade large round tortilla chips that were served warm accompanied by a trio dish of salsas. We also chose two of their guacamoles; the regular and the chipotle pomegranate, which was absolutely the best guacamole I’ve ever had. The way the pine nuts, jalapenos and pomegranates dance together is a treat for the palate. We also decided to try an order of their wings since they were made with a rub and not drenched in hot sauce, as that is why I never order wings. These were served dry with a cucumber ranch sauce and were delicious. My favorite wings so far. To accompany our appetizers we decided on a “ginger crush” cocktail that was light and refreshing.
For our main course I had to try the sea bass to see how it compared with other restaurants. The talented Executive Chef, Rob Wepplo, educated me that this was not a Chilean sea bass, but was a local fish off the coast and prepared Vera Cruz/Mediterranean style. I decided to take the risk, even though in the past I’ve not been a fan, and I’m so glad I did. It was a little piece of heaven served on top of roasted eggplant and with a Spanish rice that was quite tasty. I cannot wait to have this dish again.
My husband chose the carne asada tacos for his entrée and they were served with a smoked corn and cabbage slaw, cilantro and queso fresco. He raved about how the flavors complimented each other. At that point we each decided to try a flight of tequilas. With 74 different tequilas to choose from you are guaranteed to find a favorite. You can choose 1 oz. flights, 2 oz. shots or have your tequila crafted into cocktails. There is no place else in the valley that can give you the tequila options that you desire like Hacienda can. After filling up on all the amazing food we didn’t even consider dessert. I was not prepared for Hacienda to become my new favorite dining spot. The great thing about Hacienda is it is a one stop shop for summer fun. You can enjoy a delicious meal (they have an awesome menu), tasty cocktails (margaritas starting at $6.00), swim in the pristine pool for free (21 & over in the pool) while listening to current live DJ music. There really is no other place in the desert quite like Hacienda Cantina & Beach Club.
The fact that they want to cater to the locals only makes this location more palpable. After our meal we had the opportunity to talk to the Executive General Manager, Gerard Noonan along with Food, Beverage & Entertainment Manager, Nicole Novak, who shared what Hacienda is all about.
Noonan, 46, remembers growing up here and in the Hi-desert, “My Uncle was Pappy… of Pappy & Harriet’s. My parents owned the Red Dog Saloon and sold the liquor license to my Uncle Pappy. I’ve been in the bar and restaurant business since I was a kid.”
You can hear the passion in Noonan’s voice when he speaks about their extensive tequila menu.
“Before the opening of Hacienda, I did a lot of research on tequilas as the owner is quite the tequila connoisseur. The cool thing about our list is that with most other restaurants they pre-build your flight for you because they really have no way to put it together. But with us, you can choose different kinds of tequilas and put them together in your flight. You might want a $49.00 oz. of Don Julio next to a $6.00 Sauza and see how they compare. So you can break every rule and get what you want. And for $2.00 extra we will muddle or mix it with whatever you like.”
Novak is equally enthusiastic when speaking about Hacienda.
“The owner really wanted to do something different that wasn’t being done here in Palm Springs,” shared Novak. “We wanted to do something that was for the locals where there isn’t a fee to swim or a ticket charge to get in and hang out at the pool and listen to music. And we have a really progressive food and drink menu at a reasonable price.”
Hacienda was one of the 3 venues that took part in the successful Splash House a couple weeks ago and will now be hosting Splash House 2, August 8-10. Novak shared the future of the musical landscape at Hacienda after that big event concludes.
“It will mostly be DJ music but we will also do special events. Goldenvoice and LED will bring in certain acts and events as well. We also want to do things that are universally appealing and diverse and that attract the locals.”
With excellent food, service, vibe and a passionate team of professionals at the helm, I see nothing but exciting things in the future for Hacienda Cantina & Beach Club. The pool is open Friday, Saturday & Sunday from 11am-6pm. The restaurant and bar are open Wednesday-Friday from 11am-12am. Brunch is served Saturday & Sunday from 10am-5pm and dinner from 5pm-10pm.
Check them out at www.haciendacantina.com or call 760-778-8954. facebook.com/haciendacantina