A few things and a few places can stand up to the test of time. However, like fine wine, fewer things and places improve over time and the aging process enhances the spirit, the aura and the flavor. I can see Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch Resort in that unique group. The establishment east off Sunrise seems to have found its “mojo” since its beginnings (circa 1929) as a private academy for girls. Years later and today it stands as a boutique resort, remodeled and expanded as a representation of the Old Pueblo. Walking the grounds is a special treat and provides plenty of photo ops. The gardens are colorful and well maintained with city views and highlighted by the regional architecture. And within the resort are some very nice places to satisfy the foodie within us.

The main dining area (The Grill) is a grouping of cozy spaces including a private dining room with great spots to view Tucson’s sunsets and scenic views of the Foothills. Turning right at the main entrance is a smaller bar area, The Terraza Patio and Lounge, with limited seating and access to al fresco seating and tables.

The décor inside and out is American Southwest with traditional Spanish influences. The menus are surprisingly American eclectic with only hints of ethnic accents. HDS has the sound and appearance of a Mexican eatery but offers a wide range of choices and tastes.

The Grill is a sedate setting with full lunch and dinner service and breakfast too. The Del Sol cellars containing more than 800 wine choices complement it.

We have enjoyed the HDS experience on several occasions and introduced it most recently to out of town guests. If you’re planning to share a starter, the artisanal cheese plate is a great choice. Tasty aged cheeses, fresh, seasonal fruit, olives and more make for a leisurely way to ponder the next question - “What’s for dinner?” And that part of the menu presents numerous desirable choices such as the 12 ounce N.Y. strip steak with creamed kale and Swiss chard, rack of lamb with root vegetables and beet sauce, striped sea bass (our favorite) with forbidden rice and a pleasing coconut crème fresh and others.

And if informal and less expensive options are sought, try the Terraza Patio and Lounge. That area is always busy and offers the HDS burger and fries, mahi mahi tacos (excellent choice for light dinner and lunch) along with full bar service. On Friday and Saturday evenings local musical groups provide live entertainment on the patio too.

Entrée prices on The Grill dinner menu range from $28 for pistachio pesto potato gnocchi to $48 for 12-ounce steak. Lower prices can be found at The Terraza e.g., pork carnitas tacos at $15 and $22 river trout. In house guests, locals and conference attendees are daily patrons; so reservations are recommended.

All in all the total culinary experience at Del Sol is hard to beat anywhere in this town. The menu items and venues are varied. They are creative, satisfying and memorable. Hacienda Del Sol Guest Ranch and Resort is the “gem” of the Foothills!