Finally arriving at Pampanga after our short drive via the NLEX, Paul took the Angeles exit and drove a little more until we reached a small side street with a lot of commercial establishments lined up. A closer look at these establishments and I realized that we are driving along Angeles' red light district.
During the day, we still saw a lot of local girls dressed in very skimpy day outfits and foreigners looking for a place to have lunch. Since it was Valentine's Day and the weekend of the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, there were more cars and visitors present than normal.
Luckily, Paul was able to get a good parking spot just right outside the door of our target lunch destination. Hand in hand, we walked towards the entrance with a bright yellow, red and green signage. Zapata's Cantina Mexicana, it read. We opened the big brown door and was surprised to see the place packed with more customers waiting for their turn to be seated.
Scanning the room, I saw a couple of familiar faces. Looks like a lot of Manileños also wanted a Mexican fix for lunch. We patiently waited while reviewing their menu, I could hear my stomach slowly grumbling as we made our choices. Finally, our server led us to our table. Yahoo!!
Good thing, service was fast considering that the restaurant was very very busy. Within minutes, we finally got our first order: Chips and Salsa. I love corn chips and Paul loves salsa so this was a perfect appetizer for us. The crispy chips was perfectly salted however the salsa lacks the zing! that we were hoping it would have. We even have to add in more hot sauce to perk up the flavor which helped a little bit.
Here's a new discovery, we were served with a big piping hot bowl of what the server calls Mayan Bean Soup, at first we were hesitant to give it a try because we're not really big fans of beans but after the disappointing salsa, I dipped my corn chip into the Bean Soup and guess what?! I LOVED IT! I really can't explain why it perfectly complemented my salty corn chip but the thick, slightly spicy-salty taste of the soup really was an Ole! moment.
On our Main Entree
This is the usual scenario, Paul and I would take a long time in deciding what to get because I would want one thing and he would prefer to get another but we would still want to share. Good thing, Zapata's has a combination platter as an answer to our dilemma. We got to choose 2-3 among the following: Tacos, Burritos, Enchiladas or Chili con Carne. Since I've been craving for Tacos and Paul wanted Buritos we got one of each and added a Chili con Carne, after all, what's a Mexican meal without Chili?
Our combination platter arrived with our three choices and a generous serving of refried beans and Mexican rice. I enjoyed my Taco with spiced beef served on a crispy corn shell and topped with diced tomatoes and grated cheese. Paul's Beef and Bean Burrito looks mouthwatering and very filling too. What we loved the most,though, was the warm Chili which has the juiciest and freshest tomatoes, onions and spices.
We chatted, ate and continued to survey the room as more and more couples are coming in. It's obvious that nowadays, Valentine's Day dates are not just limited to formal, candlelit dinners. Couples are allowed to go for what their hearts or shall I say stomaches desire, be it in a fun American diner or in a wooden, ranch-like Mexican restobar like Zapata's.
Who knows?! Zapata's delicious food might just make her say Si!
Zapata's is located at 480 Don Juico Avenue, Clarkview, Angeles City (along Fields Avenue). You may call them at (045) 892-0859.