Restaurant Review – Zapata

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JINK decided to visit a new-ish Mexican restaurant called Zapata. What we didn’t know was the fact that Mexicans love their beans….

Parking – The entrance to the building isn’t easy to identify. We all got lost in our search for the entrance and had to backtrack to gain entrance to the building. The parking space seemed small – I wouldn’t have a large party there as the parking situation would be chaotic.

Security Guards – Unlike most buildings in Nairobi these days, there were no guards to check whether we had Al-Shabaab affiliated gadgets. The person who swung the turnstile open for me was friendly.

Reception – There is no guidance on what direction to follow to get into the restaurant. We just went with our gut feeling and found three people at the door of the restaurant who welcomed us in. They were friendly, smiling and welcoming.

Ambience – I felt that it looked tacky. IO felt that it looked exactly how a Mexican street restaurant would look like. I didn’t really like the chairs, they didn’t feel too comfortable. The restaurant is painted in bright colours and the walls have an interesting effect done on them. I was to ask how the walls were done, alas, I forgot! There was old school music being played in the background.

Customers – The place was practically empty when we got there at about 6.30pm but by the time we were leaving at about 9:00pm there was a larger crowd. It wasn’t crowded and other than one other group, the rest were couples. The noise level was manageable, we were making loads of noise but it didn’t seem to disturb the other guests.

Bathrooms – The bathrooms are some distance away from the restaurant. They are shared with other occupants of the building. The bathrooms were clean with loads of bathroom tissues available, running water and soap.

Service – Our Waitress, Adah, was very attentive and she knew the all the foods and their ingredients. She was very helpful and was able to direct those who were looking to take their palates on an adventure as well as steer those who wanted traditional food in the right direction. She listened to us and didn’t get flustered when we made special requests. For once, JINK din’t have to fight over whether to tip the waitress or not.

Menu – Their menu is quite compact with traditional Mexican food being offered along some ‘worldly’ foods. A little bit of everything is on offer – beef, chicken, fish, vegetarian meals, etc.

Food – We were provided with starters even before we had time to breath and settle in. The starters were ready in less than 10 minutes and the main meal was ready in less than 15 minutes. We actually had to request that they keep the food a little longer since KYS was running late. The food was presented very well, looked delicious and was in good portions. Most foods had beans on the side. Generally the beans were okay but the main meal wasn’t all that even though it looked spectacular.

Photos of the food, below.

Chicken Fajita - IO's meal. The only thing that had ingredients that she doesn't have beef with - PUN INTENDED! She finished her meal, which is a great compliment to any chef!

Chicken Fajita – IO’s meal. The only thing that had ingredients that she doesn’t have beef with – PUN INTENDED! She finished her meal, which is a great compliment to any chef!

Tampiquena Style Beef - Njenva's meal. The rice was super dry and the beef quite bland....

Tampiquena Style Beef – Njenva’s meal. The rice was super dry and the beef quite bland….

Steak with Mushroom and Tequila Cream Sauce - Nas's meal. She enjoyed her meal, lucky girl. And her meal didn't have beans!

Steak with Mushroom and Tequila Cream Sauce – Nas’s meal. She enjoyed her meal, lucky girl. And her meal didn’t have beans!

Fish Taco Starter - As IO said, the fish was really fishy. The filling was very wet so that taco was soaked through and wasn't very pleasant to eat.

Fish Taco Starter – As IO said, the fish was really fishy. The filling was very wet so that taco was soaked through and wasn’t very pleasant to eat.

Chicken Fingers Starter - The best thing we ate at Zapata. They were crispy and thick.

Chicken Fingers Starter – The best thing we ate at Zapata. They were crispy and thick.

Gorditas Jalisco Style - KYS's meal. Even from the name and looks of the meal, it is very clear that KYS is the most adventurous eater of JINK. She enjoyed her meal but mentioned that it was too much for one person.... I don't know about that.....

Gorditas Jalisco Style – KYS’s meal. Even from the name and looks of the meal, it is very clear that KYS is the most adventurous eater of JINK. She enjoyed her meal but mentioned that it was too much for one person…. I don’t know about that…..

What needs to be changed?

1. The food needs to be as tasty as it looks. Such a disappointment when you put food in your mouth and you feel like you are eating salted cardboard.

2. They need to figure out a way to improve their ventilation system. We sat near a window and since it was cold, we asked them to close the windows. However, the windows had to be opened after a few minutes because the kitchen smoke needed to find a path out of the restaurant…..

3. A very visible billboard or sign showing the name of the restaurant should be put up so that customers can see signs of a restaurant while already in the building.

All the same, the EXCELLENT service received made up for any negatives that we may have experienced. With that said, we are most likely not going to be visiting Zapata anytime soon unless we are guaranteed that the food will taste better…..

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4 responses »

  1. So I went to Zapata with my sisters … I let them (my sisters) know in advance I had preconceived notions but I was going with an open mind 🙂 That said, I felt very helpful letting them know that where we see the small sign is not where the entrance is but the small opening on the side. We happened to park facing the restaurant and walked through an opening to the restaurant (wasn’t too bad). Not sure where you parked Njenva.
    We were the only patrons on a Friday at 5pm and remained so until we left at 7:30pm. The food was ok. I wasn’t impressed and maybe it’s because I live in San Diego – 15 mins from Mexico and have Mexican restaurants every square mile but my sister loved her beef fajitas and def cleared her plate. We each had a margarita on their happy hour menu and those were definitely good. The bartender did a good job – the right balance of the ingredients. Our waitress was nice and gracious. Service was fast. Restaurant was clean. The guacamole was fresh.

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