Summer has just begun to peak in here in Mumbai, stifling heat and people are looking up to restaurants for respite in the form of light salads & berry coolers. Chili's at Powai is doing exactly the opposite, bringing more meat to the menu ! How thoughtful of them to reassure us with Buffalo meat while Beef has been done away with.

Unfold the discrete menu and the foremost sight is plethora of world beers. That's a welcome addition. The beer based concoctions like Watermelon & Beer, Raspberry & beer & Frozen Beer Rita although sound innovative, should be best kept at arm's length. The watermelon one is marginally acceptable but the raspberry is a strict no no and so is the Beer Rita. 

The better part of the menu begins from this point onwards. The Chicken Mince Burger is sure to wow anyone and everyone with its thick juicy patty. The crunch element which was until now restricted to crispy iceberg lettuce is a notch higher due to the addition of thin crisps. The new assorted set of sliders are equally remarkable. We sampled two of their variations - Buffalo Meat and Chicken. The subtly flavoured red meat patty was almost medium rare cooked while the Chicken sliders were yet again tucked with a couple of crisps to provide a different texture.

A few light eats now make an appearance in Chili's menu via the grilling process. Aimed at providing one person gourmet meal, this section is bound to work with health conscious folks. We sampled a gorgeous fillet of Mango-Chile Basa which was glazed with a spicy habanero mango sauce and garnished with chopped avocado and mango. The flaky fish fillet was cooked to perfection while its taste oddly complimented the glaze on top. The side serving of Chipotle Rice though flavourful does not work well along with the mango and the fish. The dish is also available in a Chicken variation. Grilled Chicken Salad & Margarita Grilled Chicken are the other dishes from this section.

The desserts gets a minimal revamp with addition of moist Carrot Cake while the Molten Chocolate Cake makes way for a Cinnamon Molten version. We called for the latter and were taken aback by its aroma as it sat on the table. The caramel drizzle, upside down cake and scoop of vanilla are all plated up meticulously for a vote gathering Instagram post. Cut the cake and out oozes the cream. The flavours are just stupendous leaving no human senses untouched.

The changes to the menu are most welcome. Not only is the menu redesigned with an ease to identify various sections, it is also better organized with fewer images. We really hope that some of these dishes are carried forward to the main permanent menu. 

*This visit to Chili's was by invitation.


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.
Chicken Tostados

Chicken Tostados

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.



Chili's needs no intro, It's Tex Mex and bit expensive to be true for an american fast food joint. Chili's powai is located on that posh street on Hiranandani Gardens after D-Mart. It's noisy, chittery-chattery all around and has 90s pop music playing through at high decibels. Conversation are difficult and so is finding any of the service staff. The staff is either too less or is just instructed to get back to the kitchen after each service. 

Soft Taco Shells with Crispy Chicken Filling.

Soft Taco Shells with Crispy Chicken Filling.

Chili's food was pure fast food affair, Something i haven't had since a long time. Appetizers were served in quick succession. Tandoori Paneer Quesadilla is very cleverly devised nugget of paneer and mozarella cheese. Both the textures compliment each other really well. Southwest Caesar Salad was bit dud, too much of cheap lettuce leaves and barely any chicken. Chicken Crispers were neat long strip of fried bread crumbed chicken but served a bit late and had lost that crispy coating. Fajitas were hearty and one of the best dish of the night. Chicken Burger too was massive with a generous steak / fillet. The best dish of the night was the last one - Crispy Chicken Tacos. The staff suggested that we go for a soft shell tacos and we did. Not too soft but average. Loads of chicken strips, iceberg bits, tabasco all in that one taco is real goodness of what fast food is about. They also serve a small portion of mexican rice & fried beans along with it. 

To sum up the experience, Chili's deliver the goods at a slightly steep price. If you're particular about ambience and prompt service, then this might not be the right place for you.

AuthorAssad Dadan