Hacienda Sisal (Cancún, Quintana Roo)

For our next meal in the Hotel Zone, we decided to swing back to Mexican cuisine with a visit to Hacienda Sisal. Located at the partner resort The Royal Sands, Hacienda Sisal has a broad menu, relatively few of the surcharges for all-inclusive customers, and it was easy enough to catch the shuttle bus over there and avoid the usual taxi rigamarole. The restaurant itself is quite nice; it appears to be a converted ballroom, but it sports two large dining rooms (and possibly a third, although on our visit it appeared to have been converted to Covid-19 testing), a large bar, and live musical entertainment. Hacienda Sisal is a Mexican restaurant that’s distinctly aimed at the Hotel Zone tourists; the menu leans distinctly towards “Americanized Mexican” cuisine (for example, this is one of the few places we saw American-style fajitas on the menu) over “Authenic Mexican” or Yucatecan food, but they still had a nice cross-section of traditional moles, molcajetes, and carnitas dishes as well.

One of the things that we immediately enjoyed about Hacienda Sisal was their drink service: while most of the places in the Hotel Zone had pretty decent drink specials, Hacienda Sisal does most of their drinks tableside, with one of several rolling bar carts, so you get a nicely-assembled fresh cocktail. The house special cocktails were rather good, as well; I had an “Uxmal”, with mezcal, tamarind water, lime, and simple syrup that was refreshing, with a nice smoky note from the mezcal.

Carol went for the Xhel-ha, with whisky, grapefruit juice, jamaica, lime juice, simple syrup, basil and rosemary, and this turned out to resemble a nice alcoholic version of an agua jamaica: good tart hibiscus notes mellowed with the fruit and herbs.

Next, we had a bunch of appetizers for the table. Unlike several of the resort restaurants in the all-inclusive plan where most items seems to invoke at least modest surcharges, at Hacienda Sisal, only one appetizer (the tableside-prepared guacamole) had a surcharge, so otherwise you’re open to ordering a bunch of items to show. One of our favorites was the Chochinata Sopas: small portions of cochinita pibil served up with beans and pickled onion on small blue corn tortillas. These were nice little bites of a pleasantly tender and achiote-infused pork.

Next up was a skirt steak tlayuda. A Oaxacan traditional dish, the tlyuda is probably the original inspiration for “Mexican Pizza” concept, with a crisped tortilla covered with beans, letts, avocado, Oaxaca cheese, and meat (in this case, skirt steak). We really enjoyed this: the serving was generous, the skirt steak perfectly cooked (tender, but with a nice sear), and the other toppings not burying the meat and tortilla. This was definitely one of the favorites of the evening.

For the main course, Carol went for the Oaxacan Mole, a pumpkin flower, plaintain, and cheese-filled chicken breast topped with a nice, rich and dark mole sauce, served over rice. This was definitely one of the better moles of the trip, giving the classic combination of chocolate and roasted nut notes.

Myself, I went for the Bondiola Steak with pasilla sauce. The Bondiola is a fairly unique cut of pork (more usually seen in Brazilian food); it’s a shoulder of pork that’s been cut into steaks, grilled up to a nice crisp, and drenched in a light but piquante passila sauce over potatoes, this was a nice variation on a steak theme using pork instead of beef. The result was tender, flavorful, and had a really great crisp texture combined with a nice bit of melted fat. This was actually one of my favorite of the whole Cancún trip.

Overall, I was extremely pleased with Hacienda Sisal; while a bit touristy at first impression, the food and drinks were excellent, the staff pleasant, the ambiance lively, and the surcharges minimal. This will be near the top of my list if I find myself coming back to the Hotel Zone on another trip.

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