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Zocala Mexicana Arlington - Terrible

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I just got back from Zocala on Broadway-- it was by far the worst excuse for Mexican I've EVER experienced. Carnitas is a pretty basic dish (shredded seasoned pork in some sauce) and this meager amount of shredded pork was a dry paucity of meat put over a few tablespoons of white rice and a couple of tablespoons of black beans .....with a tiny folder tortilla in the corner of the plate and a tablespoon of salsa (or was it chopped tomato and onion) -- a pathetic excuse for a meal !!! When I told the waitress the meat was dry, she brought me 2 tablespoons of tomatilla sauce -- big deal !! This place is a major rip-off and I implore the people of Arlington to drop into Boca Grande on Mass. Ave. in North Cambridge (you can't get beer or wine, but at least the people feed you !), Jose's on Sherman St. in No. Cambridge, or the family place on Mass. Ave. in Lexington -- Ixtapa !!! Great places with people who care how you're fed -- unlike the aloof waitress with attitude at Zocala in Arlington !!!!! It's really a shame that the former Mexican restaurant in that location, Ole, isn't there anymore. You can always go to Ole in Inman Square, Cambridge !!! But stay away from Zocala in Arlington !!!

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  1. We haven't been in a couple of months, but we had several quite good meals there. My favorite were the various chiles rellenos. I wouldn't say it was great Mexican, but not too bad. I hope it hasn't gone so far downhill in so little time.

    1 Reply
    1. re: DavisSquare

      Agree that the rellenos are good, but everything else there (Arlington) is bad based on a couple of recent visits -- lame service, watery sangria, and teeny portions head the list of complaints -- experience at Ixtapa has been the exact opposite -- warm quick service, decent margaritas, and HUGE portions (not rellenos, though -- grilled fish tacos -- never had the CA version, but these are a favorite for us). I also agree that Boca Grande is far superior, as is Anna's--and Tu y Yo at the other end of the price spectrum.

    2. I had a nice brunch at the Brighton location last summer...tasty mole.

      I do agree that Boca is delicious.

      1. I had exactly the same impression of the food at Ixtapa the one time I ate there. I've had mixed experiences at Zocala.

        1. I've had several excellent meals here. Zocalo is owned and run by the same person who ran it when it was Ole. I don't remember the particulars, but I believe Ole in Inman and Zocalo in Arlington are owned by brothers. When they split, the Arlington place was renamed Zocalo.

          !!!!!

          1 Reply
          1. re: tallullah

            I remember there was a family fued that resulted in the split -- nevertheless, I was very dissapointed. Perhaps the expansion to Brighton & Boston is haveing a negative effect.
            One other note is that we walked in at 7:00 on a Friday night with no wait and other tables available, that's a change.

          2. Sorry you had a bad experience, I've never been there myself. As an FYI though, carnitas usually doesn't have much of a sauce, as it's supposed to be roasted or fried until it is crisped up on the outside. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnitas) Pork al pastor will be shredded pork in sauce. That being said, there's still no excuse for a small amount that was also dry!

            There's a great version of carnitas at Ken Oringer's new place La Verdad- moist but crispy shredded meat. No sauce there!

            2 Replies
            1. re: chezchristine

              I second the carnitas at La Verdad. And I agree, I've never seen carnitas in a sauce, the crispy bits are the best part!

              1. re: chezchristine

                The al pastor pork at Lupita (and others places I have tried) is not shredded and sauced. In my experience, it's prepared on a spit much like lamb for gyros (obviously the spices, including the pineapple are different) then sliced off and grilled until a little crispy.

                I also agree that carnitas is not usually served with sauce, or at least in my experience.