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Report on Viva Zapata's, Las Vegas

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First of all, a confesion. I had made plans to have lunch today with LA area chowhound D and her husband (I just realized that I don't know your chowhound handle, and don't want to post your name without permission. So you will be D for now until you respond....). I told her I wanted to try Viva Zapata's, as I had never eaten there and was anxious to try it. At the time I told her that, it was not a lie.

But then Friday afternoon my husband picked me up from the airport after a week in Seattle. He himself had a plane to catch in hours, and wanted to eat somewhere off strip and casual. "Hey, let's go to that Mexican place the chowhounds talk about on Craig!" He said....I decided not to remind him that I was lunching there while he was gone..after all, Mexican twice in a weekend is fine with me.

DH and I arrived Friday around 6 without a reservation, and none was needed (It got crowded about the time we left). The meal started on a good note: they have Sangrita as a tequila chaser (no, that is not the same as Sangria...google it). Hubby ordered a margarita, and I got the Sangrita with a shot of Reposado. It came with ice in it (the chaser, not the tequila..which I thought was a little odd but turned out ok given that it is very, very hot here). It tasted great! DH's margarita was also tasty, and strong.

We both ordered chicken dishes: I got the pipian and DH the pollo con rajas. Both were tasty but could have used a little more zip. Chicken was well-prepared and juicy. We started with the tableside quacamole...which uses almost exactly the same recipe I use at home....so its good. Good ingredients. Chips and tortillas (both flour and corn) are house made, a definite plus.

So on to lunch (brunch?) today. I arrived just after noon to find D and her hubby waiting. The restaurant wasn't crowded then, but again by the time we left there were folks waiting for tables. Drinks were ice tea this time. I had the chilaquiles. D had a pork dish "with three sauces" (the pork was very tasty and tender but we could really only distinguish one sauce...albeit a tasty one. It had a hint of chipotle). She'll have to post the name of her dish; I forget. D's hubby had a combo: enchilada and a chili relleno. I assume it was good; he cleaned his plate. My chiliquiles were tasty, and I appreciated the fact that eggs are only added if you ask (I didn't). However, I found them just a little too cheesy for my taste. Recently I had chiliquiles at Las Gallerias, and I prefer their version.

I was finding the table salsa roja a bit too picante, which is unusual for me. Maybe the chilis were particularly hot when they made it. I ended up ordering a dish of pico de gallo instead (I wasn't charged for it, btw)...it was good but could have used a dash of salt.

So, the bottom line of my report (finally!): Viva Zapata's is a good, friendly place for decent sit-down Mexican food. Definitely will be on my regular rotation...especially if I feel like a little tequila and sangrita. Service is excellent, btw. However, my favorite Mexican restaurant in Las Vegas continues to be Gallerias....

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  1. Thanks for the report back! Adding a link...IIRC, this place is convienent for those heading out of town to the north (ie if landing in Vegas and going up to Zion or the Grand Canyon?)

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    Viva Zapatas Mexican Restaurant
    3826 E Craig Rd North, Las Vegas, NV

    3 Replies
    1. re: susancinsf

      Yes, extremely convenient a block from I15 on the north side of town....and with two cheap gas stations right there too. I would highly recommend it as a convenient stop if you were headed straight to/from the airport to places north such as Zion, Grand Canyon, Valley of Fire, etc. OTOH, be warned for the next few weeks: the exit from I15 if you're headed south (as in back into town) is closed for roadwork....and the detour is looonnnnnggggg.........

      1. re: janetofreno

        Excuse me, but you don't get to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas by driving NORTH on the I-15!

        1. re: Friend of Bill

          For the more popular south rim you can't head north but you have to head south, via Hoover Dam, to I-40. But as you probably realize, getting to the north rim is a northbound drive toward St. George.

    2. Thanks for posting, Janet, and I'm hereby outed as LA chowhound D. No problem using my real name since I use it here. We got back last night and I still need to post on our visit to L'Atelier for their summer menu as well as our visit to Frozen Aces for Philadelphia-style Italian water ice and frozen custard. I'm ashamed to admit that we were at Frozen Aces within two hours of leaving you after lunching at Viva Zapata's. I was still full at 9 that night but somehow forced myself to have dinner at the bar at Fiamma. But I digress.

      We enjoyed Viva Zapata's quite a bit. My husband's enchilada was actually called a burrito even though it looked like an enchilada. He said it was made with a flour tortilla, so it definitely wasn't an enchilada. It was filled with chile verde and liberally topped with melted cheese. I snagged a bite and it was good, and he liked it more than the chile relleno though he definitely cleaned his plate (not usually a problem for him). The description of my pork dish indeed mentioned three sauces but like you mentioned, only only one sauce was to be found. I don't remember the name on the menu other than it had the word "plan" in it. The sauce had slices of green olives in it, and the chipotle smokiness you mention. Some of the pork was on the bone and some was off. I'd never had anything quite like it before, so it was good in that way, and I enjoyed it for sure, but think I'd try something else next time. I really liked their rice and beans, and while I didn't try any of the homemade corn tortillas, the homemade flour tortilla I had wasn't as good as the ones I've enjoyed at Lindo Michoacan. I didn't find the table salsa to be too spicy and I also enjoyed their chips and had to consciously refrain from continually scarfing them.

      Next trip, we'll meet you at Gallerias!