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....