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BZ's Last Stand & Hacienda

Restaurateur Beasy McMillan has a long reputation for turning his dining concepts into successful eateries in Ashland. He's founded Cucina Biazzi, Beasy's on the Creek, Thai Pepper and Macaroni's, to name a few — I've always enjoyed the fare, whether McMillan's culinary ideas were authentic or contemporary.

McMillan's newest project, BZ's Last Stand & Hacienda, is located at 18 Calle Guanajuato, where Pilaf Restaurant was before it closed last year.

When I heard the news, I nabbed Kerry Alonzo — one of my favorite sales associates from Village Shoes — for a weekday lunch and we headed to the new taqueria with our taste buds set for Mexican food.

Last Stand hosts booths and tables, along with its kitchen, on the lower level of the old Pilaf space. There is seating outdoors and a view of Ashland Creek.

Kerry and I took our seats at one of the sunny booths and looked at the single copy of a menu laying on the table. The restaurant has only recently opened for business, and the list of dishes was handwritten in red and green markers on plain white paper. There was a lineup of pork, beef, chicken or vegetarian tacos and burritos made with red and green sauce, and there were white tacos — made with wild Alaskan cod and Mexican tartar sauce. I also spotted a breakfast taco on the menu, made with free-range eggs, avocado, Monterrey Jack and salsa, and a note that a breakfast burrito soon would be available.

Another taco dish touted barbecued pork loin with red sauce and flour tortillas. This dish, taco al carbón, will be available Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. When they're gone, they're gone, the menu stated.

We started our meals with a side of chips, fresh salsa and guacamole ($5.95), and our personable waitstaffer informed us that agua fresca (about $2 each) was available. We loved the fruit water — made from watermelon, the drinks were light, naturally sweet and served without ice. Our waiter also mentioned that various fruit is used to make the drinks on different days.

We devoured the guacamole, salsa and chips. The ingredients tasted quite fresh and as though no salt or spices had been added. Bottles of hot sauce are available at each table to add as much flavor or heat to your food as you like.

Kerry ordered the carne asada burrito with red sauce ($8.95) and I ordered two of the white tacos ($3.95 each). Along with the breaded cod, the tacos were filled with freshly sliced radish, shredded cabbage and snippets of cilantro leaves. The combination of vegetables was quite tasty with the soft corn tortillas, which had the wholesome texture and flavor of handmade ones. I meant to ask about them, but digressed into a happy chat with my new friend.

Though I prefer the natural flavors of fresh food without heavy salt, spices or rich sauces, I was surprised by the Mexican tartar sauce. It tasted like plain mayonnaise rather than something distinctive, and there was a bit too much of it for my taste.

But it didn't spoil the fresh flavor of the tacos, and Kerry liked her burrito, too. Though I noticed that she pushed a few tough bites of meat to the side of her plate.

BZ's Last Stand will expand its hours soon, according to our waitperson. Perhaps the new restaurant's menu is yet to unfold as well. There are plans for dinner seating and a margarita bar in upper level of the restaurant. Hours haven't been established, so patrons may want to call ahead. The day we visited, Last Stand also wasn't ready to accept credit or debit cards.

I'm looking forward to another visit to BZ's Last Stand, along with a stop at that margarita bar.

— Laurie Heuston