Location : Zapata's, Shop 13-14, Pleasant Park, Link Road, Opposite Movie Time Theatre, Malad West
Firstly to get the mood going let's listen to some pop from 80s. Yazoo did this amazing track which i only heard now in 2015 while watching a sitcom #TheAmericans. If you haven't seen it then do check out this thrilling CIA vs KGB drama that has unfolded cautiously over three seasons.
So moving on from Russians to Mexicans. On researching a bit over the internet it was found that Zapata meant an occupational name for a cobbler or shoemaker and also that 'Emiliano Zapata' was prominent figure from the Mexican Revolution. This Malad based eatery paints a different picture altogether. When conversing with one of the expat partner during our chef's table, he felt that Mexican food was not that greatly accepted here in Mumbai and with Zapata they wanted people to get comfortable with their asado style of cooking, tostados, ceviche and more that they have to offer.
Zapata's opens into a mix of high stools and cozy chairs enveloped in a wooden overtone. There's an yet to be complete artwork on one of its wall representing Mexico’s mafia in the form a dog smoking a cigar wearing a sombrero (very 'Snoop Dogg' i would say). My preferred ambiance will definitely be the open patch. The inside is such a stark contrast that it makes you feel you made your way from Mexico to Cuba.
Staff is well dressed with a smile. Makes you feel at ease throughout the meal.
Let me quickly run through the dishes that we tasted at the chef's table :
- Drinks menu is up-to the mark like any other eatery with signature cocktails and other concoctions. Our White Sangria with pears was perfectly suited for the afternoon.
- Nachos de zapata's - This large plate of concentric nacho rings came on a bed of minced chicken and refried beans with topping of fresh 'pico de gallo' salsa, guacamole, olives, jalapenos and sour cream. A supremely filling dish and perfect for a large group, though they do have smaller portions for a couple.
- Tostadas - Presentation and stacking is precise. The use of microgreens is definitely appreciated. Tortilla crust was perfect, but the dish was vastly let down by the bland chicken meat. The dips will surely be of all help here. A roasted vegetables variation is available too. Portion size seems small for an appetizer worth upwards of 300 bucks.
- Taquitos - These mini tortilla snackers with a softer crust are available in Asado Lamb and Beer-battered (Basa) fish variations. Take it with a squeeze of lemon and both of them will surely tantalize your tastebuds.
- Burritos - We tried the Chipotle Fish variation which is plenty in portion but each bite rendered a lot of tortilla roll than the inner stuffing.
Having gobbled a lot of tortilla and nachos, we gave the next section 'main course' a miss. If Fajitas, Enchiladas or mixed platter is your game then you can surely go for it. With least regret in the stomach, we knew a better pasture was waiting for us. A dessert platter made its way on the table.
- Desserts - Tres Leches & Churros are impeccable in taste and texture. The Flan was bit stiff and reminded me more of the pudding that mum makes at home. Having no previous taste memory of an 'Empanada', this one seemed more like a diwali karanji filled with caramelized nuts. The first try felt descent while the next one when accompanied with a little dollop of ice-cream and chocolate sauce made a small impact to the palate.
Zapata's will fare well from a corporate dining standpoint or weekend social gathering. The food though mostly flavourful and visually inviting still draws only a caricature of the Mexican culture. Nachos, Quesdillas, Fajitas and more has been done repeatedly by Chilis, Sammy Sosa, Sanchos and a few more. Mexican cuisine is not restricted to nachos, but consists of a lot of more like Mole Poblano, Tamale and Torta which can bring a lot of variety to the table than repetitive tortilla based dishes.
Folks staying in the final third of Mumbai - If sipping on strong concoctions and binging on typical Mexican food is what you're looking for then surely this is your place. Baba's & Baby's of South Bombay and Hipsters of Bandraites are certainly not missing anything by giving this place a miss.