It's all fresh-squeezed juice and top-notch tequilas 'round these parts, thanks to owner Victor's status as a certified Tequilier. (And no, we didn't just make that word up.)Call it a taqueria, call it a tequila bar, call it the perfect place to while away a few hours sampling mezcals… but whatever you do, don't call Zapata a Tex-Mex spot. Determined to give Norcrossians a taste of the real deal, this legit Mexican restaurant serves nothing like what you can find in Señor Happy's Taco Emporium. That means no goopy refried beans, certainly no gringo queso, and absolutely none of those syrupy concoctions some places insist on calling "margaritas" — it's all fresh-squeezed juice and top-notch tequilas 'round these parts, thanks to General Manager Victor's status as a certified tequilier. And no, we didn't just make that word up. (We even have proof.)
But before we talk libations, let's establish a few things about the menu. Namely, that pretty much everything on it is delicious—not to mention authentic. That gelatinous "queso" we've all become used to? Here, it's replaced by a delicious concoction called Queso Morelos: panela cheese simmered with cilantro and topped with peppers, chorizo, mushrooms and sour cream. Sí, we'll take that upgrade. We'll take that right along with a big bowl of goodness called Molcajetes, the restaurant's signature dish of ingredients cooked in a volcanic stone bowl and topped with tomatillo sauce, queso fresco and nopal cactus. Veggie lovers can opt for the primavera, while those who want to go all out should head straight for the Azteca: a big ol' bowl of beef, shrimp, chicken and chorizo.
What awaits behind Zapata's bar, though, is just as tempting as the menu: tequila, and lots of it (72 bottles, at last count). But perhaps even more intriguing is the framed Academia Mexicana del Tequila plaque on the wall that declares Zapata a certified Tequila House, and its General Manager, Victor, an official Tequilier. That explains why Zapata stocks some of the best in the business, like the limited-edition Herradura cask collection, and how the bartenders are able to truss it up into drinks that won't bring back your college days. (Our current poison of choice: the Norcross Mule, a Mexican riff on the classic ginger beer elixir kicked up a notch with mezcal.)
Tacos Mazatlan, $10
Baja Calamari, $10
Queso Morelos, $8
Azteca Molcajetes, $18.50
Monday - Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. & 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Thursday & Friday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Saturday, noon to 10:30 p.m.
Sunday, noon to 9 p.m.