Sophie Bolich

Hacienda Debuts New Menu and Beverage Program

The eastside establishment will henceforth be known as Hacienda Taproom & Kitchen.

By - Nov 17th, 2022 02:43 pm
Site of Hacienda Taproom & Kitchen, 2018 E. N. Ave. Photo taken Nov. 16, 2022 by Sophie Bolich.

Site of Hacienda Taproom & Kitchen, 2018 E. N. Ave. Photo taken Nov. 16, 2022 by Sophie Bolich.

Hacienda Taproom & Kitchen, formerly known as Hacienda Beer Co., officially debuted its brand new menu and beverage program last week, marking the realization of a relaunch nearly a year in the making.

Located at 2018 E. North Ave., the establishment shares a bustling intersection with a collection of Milwaukee’s hot spots including Crossroads Collective food hall and Hooligan’s Super Bar.

Hacienda’s total reimagination, which has quietly unfolded throughout the past several months, asserts its status as a versatile, unique and approachable East Side destination.

A new leadership team comprising director of operations Jim Anderson,  manager Meghan Keyes and chef Ashley Turner, spearheaded the revamp, with the intention of solidifying Hacienda’s identity and making the establishment inviting for a wide range of patrons.

Hacienda first opened in 2019 in the former G. Daddy’s BBC. The taproom, now outfitted with sage green accents and southwestern-themed decor, has become a haven for nostalgic visitors eager to recount memories from years past.

“We have a lot of folks that come through here that are like, ‘oh my gosh, I used to come here, I used to do this’…It’s pretty cute,” said Turner, who shared an anecdote about a couple who had their first kiss at BBC, returning 15 years later to relive the moment at Hacienda.

“That’s one of the things I just love about Milwaukee in general, is that there is such culture that’s proud of its space, is proud of its environments and proud of its food and bars,” she said. 

Crossroads of Cuisine

A Texas native, Turner is a third-generation restaurateur with an impressive culinary record. Though Turner has worked in food trucks, fine dining restaurants and everything in between, her culinary skills were truly forged in the fire of a Texas-style barbeque smoker. The influence is tangible through her new menu at Hacienda, which delivers the rich, smoky flavors of traditional barbeque in a polished and playful format.

“In Texas, there has been a kind of niche overlapping of Latin, Tex-Mex and barbeque flavors kind of coalescing,” Turner said. “It’s some of the best food, I think, coming out of central Texas. So we thought this would be a perfect thing to contribute to Milwaukee, to showcase something that’s not represented this way anywhere else in the city,” she added.

Take the Pumpkin Ancho French Toast, a standout on the brunch menu. Thick, custardy slices of white toast are paired with cubed pork belly in place of bacon. A touch of ancho lends complex and fruity notes to tie it all together.

Stuffed Avocado, another brunch dish, features a whole avocado stuffed with smoked chicken and cheese, deep fried and doused in salsa verde. The decadent creation is served alongside fluffy scrambled eggs and a generous portion of loaded hash browns.

A series of shareable bites includes deviled eggs — deep fried and filled with jalapeño-lemon mousse, served alongside slaw with pickled fresno chilies and hints of southern peach. Or go for nachos, piled in a miniature cast iron dish and topped with melted cheese and brisket chili. Both dishes are delightful in that they provide an unexpected twist on a classic concept.

Entrees include southern-style poblano and cheddar grits, slow-smoked brisket, a chicken fried steak sandwich and a variety of tacos. The latter is served disassembled, allowing guests to build each bite to their liking.

The menu features locally-sourced ingredients, such as corn tortillas, made fresh daily on the South Side at Tortilleria El Sol. Additionally, Turner said she made an effort to include naturally vegetarian and vegan options on the menu.

Beyond Beer

When it comes to Hacienda’s beverage program, Turner said it best: “Beer is something we’ve always done well.”

The selection, sourced from its parent company, Door County Brewing, leans experimental, with titles equally as intriguing as the wide variety of flavors and styles: This is Not a Sandwich (Pilsner), Time is an Illusion (Double IPA) and How Dare you Speak to Me (Hazy IPA), to name a few.

As part of the revamp, Hacienda added a handcrafted cocktail program, an innovative solution to its lack of a liquor license. Rather than hard alcohol, the drinks use a base of High Gravity seltzer, specially designed and brewed by Three Sheeps Brewing in Sheboygan. The flavorless seltzer is approximately 13% ABV and provides a neutral, refreshing backdrop for Hacienda’s fruit-forward cocktails. Among the jewel-toned drinks are a pomegranate mojito, basil passion fruit smash, pineapple paloma and a margarita. Each is also available as a mocktail.

Hacienda also offers mimosas, beermosas and micheladas.

Looking Ahead

Since rolling out the relaunch last week, Anderson said feedback from customers has been “1000% positive.”

“It definitely feels like we’ve made the place and the concept much more approachable, and really everybody’s jiving with it,” he added.

Hacienda’s new title, made official with a shiny new nameplate affixed to the front of the building, was the final step in “shedding” the last layer of the old establishment and stepping out of the shadow of the pandemic, Anderson said.

“We’ve really gotten to learn what it is that our guests are looking for. We’ve learned a lot about ourselves, and kind of some of our identity and who we want to be as well,” he added.

In the future, Anderson said he is looking forward to building on the concept, adding a happy hour program and possibly an open-mic night.

“It really is just amazing that we didn’t do this a while back,” he said. “But it feels like we’ve really found our spot and our stride.”


Menu Items

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us