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Dec 12, 2010 08:52 AM

Sparks: Delicious lamb soup and lamb tacos at El Zarape

I had a wonderful meal of lamb soup and lamb tacos at El Zarape and I would like to call it to the attention of other foodies. I’d also like to explore the menu and see if the other food matches the quality.
El Zarape is in the strip mall on Pryamid Way at Holman Way that also has the Scolari’s. I saw it a few months ago and made a mental note to check back in. Saturday I was feeling like having a margarita and decided to try out El Zarape. No margarita. I don’t think they have a liquor license.
But they have some specials they do only on weekends. I passed on the menudo. But they do offer rico barbacoa de borrego. The literal translation is rich lamb barbecue but I think it’s more accurate to call it slow-cooked lamb. A simpler translation would be delicious.
They make a soup – they call it consommé, which I believe means they treat it differently than just regular broth – from the lamb and then you can get lamb tacos. The tacos were huge. I ordered three thinking they would be standard sized tacos but there’s lots of plump meat. Two would have been plenty, maybe one for a lot of people.
The soup had good lamb flavor but it wasn’t too lamby. They also put in garbanzo beans, onions and rice. They serve a dish with limes and cilantro you can add. They also have a side dish with a hot, bitter paste you add to the soup. Like a spicy version of a thick hoisin sauce you add to pho. Loved the soup.
The lamb in the tacos was incredibly tender. Again, lamb flavor but not too lamby. I think foodies will appreciate the effort put into preparing the meat. I thought of RevAndy and his interest in slow-cooked meat.
It was $14 for the soup and three tacos.
The style of cooking is based on the Hidalgo region of Mexico, which is south of Mexico City.
I don’t know if the lamb is every weekend or just some weekends. But people interested in trying an interesting, new dish would do well to stop by El Zarape. This is the kind of restaurant people look for when they read Chowhound.
El Zarape
820 Holman Way
Sparks, NV 89431
From left to right are the soup, the ingredients in the soup, the lamb tacos, the spicy paste to add to the soup, the chips and salsa and a strawberry milkshake.

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  1. Great review and pictures Steve.

    1. This sounds and looks great, Steve. I've never seen lamb in Mexican restaurants. We won't be back in Reno til after the first of the year but will have to check it out. Thanks as always for your good recs.

      1. I went back during the week and got an item called a huarache. It was tasty and interesting. It's a fresh-made tortilla filled with refried beans. Then they put your choice of meat -- I got beef -- and cactus and onion and cheese. You can choose green or red sauce. I got half on each. The green was much better. It was a better match for the cactus. The cactus isn't that exotic, if you haven't had it before.
        I also got a longaniza taco. Longaniza is a type of sausage. More gritty and not as fatty as chorizo.
        Below are the huarache and taco.

        1. Alas, they have closed their doors--tried to go there yesterday for lunch...

          2 Replies
          1. re: NVJims

            Yeah, I've been meaning to post an update. They actually shut down a few months after I posted this. I think they had been featuring goat and went to lamb as a last-ditch attempt to boost business.

            1. re: SteveTimko

              Sad to hear this. It is hard to find this style of food even down here on the border.