A small posse formed at Zapata’s Mexican/Latino in Northbridge on Saturday night to celebrate two sibling birthdays because really, when is Mexican food ever not good? Aside from when it’s a lone chilli being scraped into your eyeball, in which case I would argue that one sole chilli doesn’t count as Mexican, and being dissolved by eyeball juice doesn’t count as eating, so it’s really not food either. I’m glad we got that one sorted.
Zapata’s has a cheerful, rustic interior that I usually associate with steak houses but am happy to extend to Mexican eateries as well. The posse members and I assembled along a long wooden table with the birthday sibling and future-sibling-in-law in the middle, and I quickly appointed myself chief-loud-weirdo of my end of the table. All good so far.
I started the night with a fruit cocktail called ‘Pearl Harbour’ which luckily tasted more fruity than boozy (only ‘luckily’ as I was driving, otherwise it would have been ‘deeply disappointingly and complaint-worthy’). There were plenty of cocktails on the menu, and you could opt for a glass or a carafe.
The menu is full of pleasing Mexican standards as well as a few token steak’n'chips variations. I chose the chicken fajitas with a side of guacamole because I’m predictable like that, and they were served with the elements arranged nicely on two little platters. Plenty of cheese, lettuce and tomato, and a massive amount of onions. Er, thanks. Only one complaint: At $3 extra, I would have expected more than just a tiny sauce dish of guacamole. Just sayin’.
As the meals were so filling only a few of us reached for the dessert menu, which consisted of A) churros with chocolate, and B) about six variations on the ice cream theme. You know the type – they make each one sound different and fancy, but once your eye has zeroed into the word ‘ice cream’ buried in each description, you realise each one is actually [insert flavour here] ice cream in a casing of [insert colour here] chocolate with a sprinkling of [insert nut here]. A friend ordered one of the ice cream variations so I snapped a quick pic before he chopped though the chocolate casing to reveal fluoro yellow ice cream underneath.
I do believe that is cream behind the yellow swirlie. Problems with the cream canister perhaps?
A friend and I ordered a plate of 8 churros for $10.50, and now is probably a good time to disclose something shocking: I’ve never eaten churros before. I was living in Sydney when San Churros set up in Perth, and I never felt the need to visit any of their NSW stores as I had a Max Brenner Chocolate Bar down the road from my house, and Max Brenner is a chocolate god. (I know this for a fact as I interviewed him once. He, and his chocolate, really are amazing).
So I had nothing to compare the churros to, but I will describe the Zapata’s ones anyway: thick ropes of sugary cinnamon-doughnut-style sponge. A little spongier than I expected, frankly, and slightly oily; not as crunchy as I would have liked. But the chocolate was lovely to dip them into, and the serving was very generous.
The cocktail, fajitas, tiny guacamole and churros came to about $46, which is far from horrific, and this brings me to one of the best features of Zapata’s: at the start of the night they give each punter a little slip with a number on it, and they charge your individual orders to that number, so at the end of the night you roll up to the till with your little slip and they ring it up for you to pay. Sweet! Ideal for group bookings, and no one gets stuck with the bill for six garlic breads because they’re the last to leave.
I enjoyed Zapata’s – good food, good cocktails, and okay pricing. And hey, Mexican food is always okay by me. Except of course the chilli/eyeball scenario. But thankfully we’ve already acquitted Mexican food of that.