Deck on Zocalo

On November 14, 2011, in Cleveland, Reviews, by admin

Originally, I was thinking I wouldn’t be writing a review for this dinner.  I had planned on going to Greenhouse Tavern which I’ve already reviewed (and I don’t usually write repeats), and having what was sure to be a delicious dinner in a place where I could get a little work done.  But unfortunately, the bar was closed for a private party and the line for a table was longer than I was willing to wait.  So, I decided to turn to one of the other options on East 4th St.  I wasn’t really in an Italian or Vietnamese mood, so the most logical option seemed to be Mexican at Zocalo.

The entrance to Zocalo isn’t directly off East 4th, but down a little alley.  When walking in, it opens up to a large, brightly lit area.  There is a bar on the left with ample high table seating, and dining on the right.  There is also more dining downstairs which is where the kitchen is located.  The restaurant was fairly well packed, but I was able to snag a high table in the bar.  It took a little while for one of the servers to find me…owing mostly to the loud and boisterous drinks and dinner group that was next to me.  But once she did, I was able to get myself a Dos Equis and start looking through the menu.

As I was contemplating a couple of the chef signature dishes as opposed to the more classic dishes that are found at 90% of the similar Mexican restaurants my beer and some chips and salsa arrived.  I kind of nonchalantly reached for a chip and dipped it into the salsa and was was hit with a sweet and smoke flavor blast.  It had a brightness to it from fresh tomatoes, but an underlying smokiness to it from what I would assume were chipotle peppers instead of jalepenos.  After a couple more chips, I settled on the mole con pollo…and then went back to the salsa, trying to pace myself…a little.

Just about the time I was going to just throw caution to the wind and make my way through the whole basket of chips, my chicken arrived; two full breasts and all the fixin’s.  In this case, the fixin’s were sauteed winter squash and pureed sweet potatoes.  Both were definitely unique to my Mexican dining adventures (usually you get the stable rice and beans and some variation on those), but I appreciated the seasonal approach.  They were both done well and were  a nice compliment to the chicken.  In fact, I might argue…ok I will argue, it’s my blog after all…that they were done better than the chicken.  The peanut mole sauce added a nice flavor to the dish…a little sweetness, a little richness, and a little textural element with the toasted sesame seeds.  There wasn’t a lot of it, just enough to cover the chicken without covering the plate.  Which would have been fine, as it is a condiment to the meal, if the chicken was done better.  It was just dry enough that the amount of mole couldn’t really bring it back.  And it was a little too charred in place where the flavor was a little more charcoal than chicken.

Zocalo Mexican Grill & Tequileria on UrbanspoonI ended up only eating about half of the food on the plate…the serving was quite large.  While it wasn’t the best that I’ve had, it was good enough to make for a lunch that is better than anything I can get at the office cafeteria (which really isn’t a ringing endorsement).  The salsa was definitely good, and the sides were good, and I could definitely see enough potential there that I would be willing to give it another shot if I’m downtown.  If I had my choice though, I would make the drive out to Lopez.

Final Verdict – 3 Stars

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