It’s one of three restaurants on Jones Street in downtown Norcross, and of the three, it is the newest to that location and perhaps the best. I took my family there tonight, and as is typical for the times I’ve been, it was full. The wait, however, was short, and we were seated within 2-3 minutes.

There are a couple draws for this place to eat. For one, they claim their food is more authentically Mexican, as opposed to a border Tex-Mex cuisine.  The second is their use of a molcajete, a mortar made of volcanic stone, as a serving instrument for a number of their dishes.  They heat the stone mortar up, let it cook the food, and of course the molcajete comes out with the mix of cheese and meat openly bubbling. The molcajete is edged with green onions, tomatoes, and cactus. There are sides: rice, beans, and ground chorizo sausage, along with hot steamy tortillas.  So, you get a tortilla, and add sides, meat and cheese, fold it up and eat it.

My wife was fond of their cooked plantains, which were both dry and tasty. A lot of cooked plantains have an oily texture, but not these. I had a chile relleno, with meat. I’d have loved to try their relleno stuffed with cheese, but I know from experience that’s something I can’t eat this late at night anymore. Just too much fat in the dish.

Service was, for the most part, excellent. As cramped as the restaurant can be, they clear tables and moves people to their seats with a lot of skill. Waiters drop by often, are attentive, drinks are filled quickly. They have good chips, and a good salsa. In terms of price, entrees in Zapatas run from about 11 dollars to 18 dollars a plate. Obviously there are less expensive alternatives to Zapatas, but the sheer spectacle of having your food delivered in a mortar made of volcanic rock makes this a place I heartily recommend.

Zapata on Urbanspoon

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