Friday, June 14, 2013

zapata's mexican restaurant.

A recent catch-up with a friend brought us to Zapata's, a Mexican restaurant nestled among other eateries on Melbourne Street in North Adelaide. Let's be honest, I'm not a very experienced eater of Mexican food.  I can count the number of times I've had Mexican food with two hands and am utterly hopeless at pronouncing most of what's on the menu, so I wouldn't really know what was authentic and what was just an imitation of Mexican food.  However, having said that, I found Zapata's to be the best place I've been to so far and it has inspired me to go out and try more of this yummy cuisine.

My friend and I ordered a combination of dips and chips as an appetizer and a main of fajitas to share, along with a large jug of Zapata's Mexican soft drink.   The Ribs Zapata had initially caught my eye but after asking for further details from a really enthusiastic waiter (details on service below), we realised the size wasn't going to justify the price.  What's more, my friend has ordered this same combination every single time she's been here and that, to me, is testament to how good it must be.

Combination Dips (small): $18.90

(L-R, Top): frijole con queso, tomato con chilli (L-R, Bottom): chilli con queso, guacamole 
Frijole con queso aka the bean dip: This was actually not too bad.  Originally I wasn't really all too keen on a mashup of beans and cheese but the flavour was more nutty than bean-y.  I'm not the biggest fan of beans by themselves e.g. red beans, baked beans, chickpeas, broadbeans etc., but blended all together it tasted okay.  I would recommend combining it with some of the other dips if you're not keen on beans though.

Tomato con chilli: This tasted like regular tomato salsa to me.  It did have a spicy flavour, except it wasn't really spicy or chilli for me.  My friend loved this one though.

Chilli con queso: Oh my cheese.  This dip was our favourite out of the four and it was completely scraped dry by the time we finished the chips.  The warm, creamy cheese was perfect by itself or eaten with the other dips.  Don't let the description of ' a blend of cheese, hot chillies and spices' scare you off from ordering this one since it wasn't really chilli or spicy.

Guacamole: Again, this tasted like regular guacamole to me.  I will admit that I never tasted this one just by itself so I can't say if it had enough flavour standing alone.  However, it was thick and chunky and was also all gone by the end of the appetizer.

Fajitas: tortillas, sour cream, cheese, frijoles, tomato salsa & guacamole ($24.90 per person)
The fajitas dish came with similar dips which we had just eaten in the appetizer, but unfortunately, no chilli con queso.  Instead there was sour cream and grated cheese to put together inside the tortillas.

The tortillas were so warm and soft which made it them easy to wrap with.  They're also kept in a container with a lid so that while you're making and enjoying your fajita, they're not left in the cold and won't get dry.

Steak fillet (part of the fajita's dish)
We chose the steak fillet for our meat filling, but there's also a chicken and vegetarian option.  The steak came out on a sizzling plate and was cooked with capsicum, onions and a chilli sauce.  Again, the chilli wasn't really hot so for those who can't handle chilli well you should be fine. The steak itself tasted really good with the sauce and the capsicums.  They were cut into medium-sized pieces so it was a bit hard to wrap it all together with the dips (or maybe it was just me being greedy...) but it was super delicious when eaten all together.

Mexican Hibiscus & Tamarindo Soda: $9.90 per litre
When my friend mentioned the hibiscus soda I was all for it since I'd missed out when I went to Maiz & Mezcal.  It turned out to be a very refreshing and sweet drink and went well with the meal.  I don't know how to describe the taste exactly since it's not something I've had before and honestly, the flavour was a little too mild for me.  I would have preferred something with a stronger punch to it but maybe next time it will taste stronger.  According to my friend it varies a lot and so it's a bit of a hit and miss with this one.

I really enjoyed my time at Zapata's, both food-wise and service-wise.  One of the waiters who served us was one of the most bubbliest and enthusiastic waiters I have ever come across.  He was also very friendly and when we went up to the pay the bill, he complimented us on finishing the fajitas:  'Good job on finishing the fajitas girls! I mean, they are not a small serving!! I was watching you guys and the plates are all clean!!" I admit, I was a bit dumb-struck to say much but retrospectively it was hilarious.

The only negative thing I would mention would be that there weren't enough tortillas for the two of us.  For $24.90 per person I was expecting more than three tortillas each.  There was quite a bit of steak on the plate and it would have been nice to finish all of the steak inside of a tortilla instead of eating it by itself.  However, other than that I really couldn't fault much else and would definitely recommend  Zapata's to anyone wanting to try out Mexican food.

Zapata's Mexican on Urbanspoon

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