Of course anywhere else in the country a burrito place might not seem such an exciting prospect, but Newcastle has been sadly lacking in the Mexican department for a long time. I have said we need a burrito place more times than is really necessary so when I heard about the opening of Zapatista I was pretty fucking excited.
So what I got was even more of a disappointment.
Located up by both the universities on Ridley Place it is in prime location for milking the student market and is kitted out in a suitably Latin American vibe. The inside is actually very well done, stall seating down stairs and tables and chairs upstairs making it feel roomy and a bit nicer than just another sandwich shop. Lots of lovely exposed brick work, mosaics and sanded wooden floors. They'd made the most of the original features in this old Victorian three storey terrace so kudos for resorting an old building rather than setting up shop in some modern soulless shell.
|Zapatista Burrito Bar, Newcastle|
So it was my birthday, I was having a birthday burrito - I really know how to celebrate. The ordering system was pretty standard - queue up, pick your fillings, add your beans and salas and salad. Everything's £4.20, so a reasonable lunch (although you could get 2 slices for that price).
It was at this point I already started getting the feeling this wasn't going to quite live up to my Mexican dreams. There was a choice of chicken, pork, shredded beef and chilli con carne (made out of mince not shredded slow cooked beef!!) I opted for the pork and it was a weird dry grey texture, the salsas looked incredibly watery, the cheese was an unnatural shade of orange and the rice looked very stodgy.
No spicy flavours, smokiness or waves of heat, then fresh and vibrant salsa - it was just a big bland roll of carbs. Their menu says they serve 'lime and coriander rice' but I couldn't detect either of those flavours. Even worse, my friend's hadn't even been rolled properly so at one end all he had was rice and then it proceeded to fall apart in his hands and mine leaked watery sauce. The ultimate sign of a bad burrito.
Oh, I had such high hopes and I left so very disappointed. It's such a shame, the food and quality of it felt like an secondary thought after the design and look of the building. Just because you are the only people doing something in a city where there's obviously a demand for it doesn't mean you should turn out something average, being best by default is no victory.
Now the question is, what's worse - a bad burrito or no burrito at all?
Zapatista Burrito Bar is at 28 Ridley Place, and is open Monday - Saturday 10-7