Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Restaurant Review: Zapatista Burrito Bar, Newcastle

Enough colour for you?!
During the vast majority of the 12 or so years I have lived in Newcastle, it has, where Mexican food is concerned, been a total desert. "When the bloody hell is someone going to open a Mexican place?!", I thought, frequently, shaking a clenched fist skywards to no great effect. There was a place doing "Tex-Mex" near Haymarket that I believe traded in nothing much more interesting than loaded potato skins and the like, so I never went. Latterly, Las Iguanas has brought its brand of vague, South American-filtered-through-chain-restaurant thing to town. So when, quite a while ago now, I learned on Facebook that a Burrito Bar was opening up, an intrigued and hopeful eyebrow was raised in anticipation.
I ate a lot of burritos a long time ago, in the Mission District of San Francisco, at the fag-end of a round the world gap-yah type thing. I was skint, and they were cheap, generous and, once I'd sussed out where to get a good one, delicious. A decent burrito is a fine thing, offering the promise of a multifaceted line up of flavoursome foodstuffs, crammed into soft tortilla. Perfect fast food, basically.

After a hard day's fannying about getting not much done in town (can you believe Wilkos don't have growbags?! I know!), we were ready for a consolatory meal. So low were our spirits that we considered Burger King, before I remembered that we hadn't been back to try Zapatista's since it opened. Back then, I thought the burrito was basically good, if a bit meagre for the price, the staff seeming a bit timid with the produce in front of them. I can report that things are now ticking along just fine.

A gob's-eye view of the pork burrito
My shredded pork burrito was quickly, and quite generously made from delicious pulled pork, well cooked rice and well spiced black beans. A chipotle salsa brought the thing to life, while so-so guacamole and sour cream soothed. At £4.20, this is pretty reasonably priced. Beats the hell out of a foot-long from Subways, that's for sure. Kasia and I shared some tortillas, which came with a variety of dips, plus a good dose of that hyper-smutty cheese sauce, violently grim versions of which can be found stalking your local multiplex. The tortilla chips themselves were fine, although didn't taste home made. Apols if they were... The bottles of different incarnations of Cholula hot sauce on the tables were appreciated by me. The garlic one in particular is the business, adding some welcome vim to proceedings. The upstairs seating area is a riot of colour, full of murals, painted tables and exposed brick. It's a nice airy, light space in which to fill your face full of burrito.

Given that it has no competition to speak of, I'm very glad of Zapatista, and was happy to see them doing a brisk trade on a Sunday afternoon. These are perhaps not the greatest burritos you'll ever taste, but they're certainly an admirable enough effort, and a perfectly-good burrito is light years better than no burrito at all. If they made a properly addictively zingy and fresh tasting guacamole, things would be instantly improved. As they are, they completely hit the spot and I'll happily return.




  1. I haven't been back since it first opened, but I think you may have persuaded me to give it a go one lunch time, since i's so handily placed near where I work and all.

    Cate, x

    1. I miss working in town. The gustatorial options on the Newburn business park are not all that they might be.

  2. I so need to try, it looks delicious!

  3. Definitely worth a look, hope you enjoy it if you do go.

  4. I went, I think, in its opening week and found it rather poor. The rice in particular I recall was all soggy and stuck together.

    I tried is again this lunchtime and it was like a changed place. Decent service and solid food. I'll be going back.


All comments gratefully received. Sorry about the word verification thing, but I've started getting bombed by spam.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...