The city of Somerville is an interesting mix of old and new, with close-knit, multigenerational families often living next to college students, artists, and musicians. And Union Square is a prime example of this, as the square itself is a hodgepodge of family-run shops, ethnic restaurants and grocers, and art and photo studios. Parts of the area around Union Square, however, remain firmly in the old-school, blue-collar category, such as the gritty neighborhood just south of Union Square where La Hacienda resides. And perhaps this is why this classic watering hole, which has been around since 1939, has been able to maintain its working-class roots after all these years.
At first glance, La Hacienda looks a bit intimidating; its thick wooden door, rather dark and dank basement location, high-backed wooden booths, red brick floor, and no-frills bar area assure diners that this is probably not the place to go for an elegant, romantic evening out on the town (no more sawdust on the floor, though). But while it indeed is seen by many as simply a dive bar, it really is more of an Italian-American restaurant (complete with a separate dining room in the back) that serves a wide variety of dishes. The surprisingly extensive menu includes such familiar dishes as garlic bread, ravioli, lasagna, burgers, veal marsala, chicken piccata, shrimp scampi and the like, with pasta dishes being particularly good, thanks to the slightly sweet tomato sauce used.
While diners often come to La Hacienda to order full dinner entrees, what many others come here for is one thing, and one thing only: Bar pizza. The individual bar pies at La Hacienda are simply tremendous. In fact, some folks consider them to be the best bar pizzas north of Boston (this writer probably would give the nod to Monte's in Lynn, but not by much). They are greasy on top, with a spicy, tangy sauce mixing nicely with the cheese and oil, and a crisp, dry crust that has the cracker-like texture of most bar pizzas. By the way, the small and large size pizzas here are closer to classic thin-crust pies than the individual bar pizzas, and are excellent in their own right. Drinks are pretty basic at La Hacienda, with pitchers of beer as well as wine on tap (the pitchers of beer go very nicely with the bar pies).
To put it in a nutshell, La Hacienda is a classic joint of the old-school variety, much like the Brown Jug in Chelsea, the Lynwood Cafe in Randolph, and the aforementioned Monte's. It is tough to choose one of these places over the others, but if you live in or near Somerville and enjoy eating bar pizza--or more traditional thin-crust pies, for that matter--in a place with lots of character, La Hacienda may be your best bet.
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