Zapata Mexican restaurant in the much loved eating and drinking 2nd avenue of Harfield Village has been open for about a year. For each month that the store has been open, I’ve heard a different review, some good, some bad. With this in mind, I was very happy to visit Zapata, last Tuesday, for myself.
Mexican is one of my favourite cuisines and I already have my favourite Mexican restaurants in Cape Town so I expect something extraordinary to sway me from my regular chilli filled joints.
Named after Emiliano Zapata, the restaurant is vibrantly decorated with a cloudy sky, the usual emptied tequila bottles of past parties (NOT Jose as they don’t fail to illustrate throughout the restaurant), some tables have bright table tops as well as Zapata’s famous quote featured all around the restaurant, “I’d rather die standing than live on my knees”.
I ordered fatjtas, a great dish to sample a few of the provided sides, since do-it-yourself wraps is the fatjita game. Unfortunately, the batman COMPLETELY overdid the bitters in my shandy, I ordered another can to dilute the drink which helped. My meal arrived in little tin cups filled with chopped tomato, guacamole, yellow savoury rice, refined beans, sour cream or actually I think it was Bulgarian yoghurt, grated cheese, the fatjitas and the chicken with stir fried onions and green peppers that I chose (beef, chicken or veg). The food was delicious, however, it wasn’t better than anywhere else.
I had a taste of the grilled chicken “burger” which was really juicy and flavourful. A platter for 2 was also selected at our table and was filled with similar condiments to my fajitas with added chilli poppers and nachos. This is a huge platter and definitely enough for 2, or even 3 modest eaters. The spicy beef salad actually looked really delicious too. A large salad with that includes lots of avo and feta, I think this could be a good lunch time meal.
To address some of the reviews that I had heard:
1) HUGE portions. Well they’re not MASSIVE as in American portions but there are certainly left overs with most meals.
2) Quantity over Quality. I enjoyed the food at Zapatas but I can’t say that it is better than my favourite restaurants. Some dinners feel that it is “cleaner” and “fresher” than some Mexican restaurants, this is true, but I don’t frequent crappy restaurants so Zapata seemed on par for me!
3) Best Mexican in town! Mexican is increasingly being debated in Cape Town as actually we eat “Tex-Mex”, cuisine that is derived from the Mexican-Texas areas and not authentic Mexican cuisine. 4) Bad Service. I wouldn’t say the service was ‘bad’, I found the waitron to be friendly, however, the service was slow because they were overwhelmed. I think there were only 2 waiters working that night instead of 3.
Zapata provides parking behind the restaurant, a much needed bonus in Harfield as “village” really does illustrate the size of the streets and parking facilities of the area. There is a small courtyard outback which I’m sure will also be fun when the weather’s warmer. Over all, Zapata is a fun, local restaurant ‘just around’ the corner that offers fresh Mexican food.