Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Mexican Ole!

If there is one cuisine that is as close to the Filipino taste buds, I’d say the Mexican way is one of them.  Aptly describe from the World Wide Web as “known for its varied flavors, colourful decoration and variety of spices and ingredients, most of which are native to the country” (Wikipedia), being in almost the same line of the equator meant almost the same available ingredients for us.  Some of the critical elements of this cuisine are corn (and its many incarnations), beans (lots of them), onion, chili (but not all), cilantro (a lot also) and other herbs and spices.
I was able to gather a quick reference guide for the rather popular dishes or food items mcmillian dictionary and found the following:
Burrito (noun) – a type of Mexican food made with tortilla (a piece of flat thin bread) that is folded over and filled with meat or beans and cheese.
Chilli (noun) – a Mexican meal made from beans, tomatoes, onions, chilies, and usually meat, all cooked together.
Enchilada (noun) – a Mexican food consisting of a piece of flat bread rolled up and filled with meat and cheese.
Fajitas (noun) – a Mexican meal that consists of thin pieces of chicken, vegetables, or meat cooked and then rolled up inside a tortilla.
Guacamole (noun) – a sauce made from crushed avocado, often eaten with Mexican food.
Nachos (noun) – a type of Mexican food that consists of pieces of tortilla (thin flat bread) heated with beans and cheese on top.
Refried beans (noun) – consists of cooked beans that are fried with spices.
Salsa (noun) – sauce made of tomatoes, onions, chili peppers, and spices served with Mexican or Spanish food.
Taco (noun) – a Mexican food consisting of a flat piece of pastry that is folded around meat, beans, etc. and cooked until it is hard.
Tamale (noun) – a Mexican meal made by rolling cooked meat and peppers in cornmeal, wrapping it in the outer covering of maize, then cooking it by steaming or boiling.
Tortilla chips (noun) – small pieces of maize tortilla cooked in oil.
  After that food-lingo crash course, let me show you one place where you can find (and eat) hefty servings of Mexican dishes.  Apart from the descriptions above, I would add the ‘earthy-robust’ taste descriptive of every dish available in their menu.  The place has changed its rather popular name and moved into a new location but the quality of food and dining experience never changed.  True enough, it is one of the many food havens in Pampanga that many famous people from Manila frequent.  The place is currently carrying the name Iguana’s but to many, the original ‘Zapata’s’ is hard to let go.

The place is rather dark and a bit warm to the feel (nope not related to the temperature) so having a good picture of the food whenever I visit is quite a challenge as I do not also want to disturb the other patrons with my flashing camera every so often.  Whenever I want a semi-fine-dining experience that is more personal and not to crowded (even on high noon), this is a highly recommended place.
Seats are very comfortable and tables are big.  There is a piped-in Mexican music to top the ambience and plenty of decors reminiscent of a typical Mexican ‘cantina’.  Now, on to the food.  Since I (and my co-workers) have been patrons of this place, we were able to already scan their menu (literally) and here are their current line-up including prizes.

When going in groups, it is highly recommended that you try their combination platters so that everyone can have a sample of the different offerings.  Be prepared though to answer quite a number of questions from the order takers.  Here’s one chain of talks:
Customer:  I’ll have taco platter for today
Zapata’s: Beef or chicken?
Customer: Beef
Zapata’s:  Ground or shredded?
Customer: shredded
Zapata’s: for the taco, will it be hard shell or soft shell?
Customer: hard shell
Zapata’s:  Will you have that with mexi-rice or beans?
Customer: beans
Zapata’s:  would they be mashed or boracho? (I’m not sure of this one though, ehe).
So many eh? Hahaha, but I welcome this exchange as it only goes to show that they want the dishes to be as personalized as possible and just the way customers prefer them.  Don’t worry as the servers are more than willing to explain should you get confused along the way.  Now the most difficult part of the ordeal is the waiting time.  Nope, not that long, but not that fast either especially during rush hour.
Below are just some of the food I sampled through the years.  The place is located along the famous Friendship Hi-way in the heart of Angeles City.  For those commuting, look for the ‘Friendship Hi-way’ jeeps at the terminal near Clark’s maingate.

Tortilla chips and Fresh Salsa

Quesadillas with Jalapeno yum yum
Enchilada and Chili-con carne

Burrito and Taco Combination


  1. Vonn, try their Fajitas and Irish Nachos next time! Nothing beats those two!

  2. How is the salsa? Mexican restaurants can be judged by the quality of the salsa.

  3. from my experiences, the veggies retain their form (meaning there is still texture) and not all gooey (which i like), but with enough liquid to also attain the 'runny' feel.. cool on the mouth and the cilantro is just refreshing...