Don Zapata’s Mexican Grill recently opened at 137 Jonestown Road in the Summit Station shopping center just off Country Club Road.
Don Zapata’s is owned by Eric Mata, Rafael Leon and Gonzalo Aguirre.
Mata and Leon are the operating partners. They previously worked together at Rio Grande Mexican Kitchen in Greensboro, where Aguirre also is a co-owner.
Mata and Leon also are brothers-in-law. “It’s good working with family,” Mata said. “We get along pretty well and know how to split up the work.”
Mata, 31, is a native of California who grew up in Georgia. “I’m third-generation in restaurants. My grandfather started a restaurant there, and my dad had three restaurants at one point. When I was a kid, I would go straight from school to the restaurant.”
Leon is a native of Jalisco, Mexico.
Mata’s experience is more in the dining room, and Leon is the cook. “Most of the recipes for the seasonings and sauce’s are Rafael’s,” Mata said.
Don Zapata’s has a large menu typical of Mexican-American restaurants. But it does offer a few dishes that distinguish it.
Mata and Leon have included a half-dozen bowls, following a trend in many modern restaurants, but giving it a Mexican twist. These bowls come with rice, black beans and mixed greens combined with a variety of other ingredients. The Fiesta Ranch Bowl ($12) comes with grilled chicken, steak and shrimp, roasted corn, grilled mushrooms, avocado, pico de gallo and fried tortilla strips. The Salmon Caliente Bowl ($14) features a 6-ounce mango-glazed salmon fillet with roasted corn, broccoli, avocado, cucumber and fried tortilla strips.
“Talking with customers at other restaurants, we wanted to add something modern,” Mata said. “People want healthier options. A lot of Mexican food is so filling.”
Appetizers include Chicken Wings as well as Aguachiles ($15) of shrimp marinated in lime juice with salsa verde, onions, cucumbers, avocado and jalapeno. A selection of eight dips includes Poblano ($5, with grilled poblano peppers), Camarones Grantinado ($8, with shrimp, onions and Chihuahua cheese) and Zapata’s ($4.50, with ground beef and refried beans). Some of these are big enough to make a meal, Mata said.
There’s about a half-dozen different nachos ($7 to $10.50) and salads ($5.50 to $12) — and again some of these are enough for a meal.
There’s also classic Mexican chicken and rice soup ($5.50 a coup or $8 a bowl).
Other items include chimichanga, enchiladas and burritos. There’s also a selection of eight fajita entrees.
Don Zapata’s also has taken the popular arroz con pollo (chicken and rice) and expanded the idea to 10 entrees that include various other toppings. Arroz Zapata ($10.50) has grilled chicken, mushrooms, broccoli, onions, bell peppers, zucchini and yellow squash. Arroz Choristeak ($10.50) features steak and chorizo.
Three pages of chef’s specialties include Quesadilla Hawaiana ($9) with barbecue grilled chicken, bacon, onions and pineapple; Tacos Jalisco ($12.50), four tacos stuffed with avocado, radishes, onions and choice of al pastor, carnitas, steak or chicken or chorizo; Mojarra Frita ($14), fried whole tilapia; and Carnitas en Salsa ($12), slow-cooked pork with a choice of red or green salsa.
Lunch specials range from $5.50 to $10.
The 11 desserts ($5 to $6) include flan, dulce nachos, tres leches cake and xangos (cheesecake wrapped in a pastry tortilla).
The restaurant seats 126 and has full ABC permits. The bar offers more than 40 different kinds of tequila.(tncms-asset)e1031bb4-baeb-11e9-b371-00163ec2aa770 —(/tncms-asset)