Villa y Zapata is probably my favorite Mexican restaurant in Cleveland. It’s good for omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans alike, and is extremely affordable. The restaurant is in a pretty sketchy neighborhood and looks like a dive from the outside, but the food inside is really delicious. It is solid Mexican food – fresh, tasty and good-sized portions.
The restaurants is open 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday, 4 p.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, and closed on Sunday. Park in their parking lot if you can. It is off the side street off Madison. Enter through the rear of the building off the parking lot.
Be forewarned that they only allow one check for groups larger than 6, so if you are dining with a group encourage your fellow diners to bring cash!
Once you are seated, as in every other Mexican restaurant on the planet, you are immediately given a bowl of chips and salsa. The salsa is spicy and very flavorful.
Be sure to order a margarita or a 1/2 or full pitcher if you’re feeling feisty. They come in House, Golden or Strawberry. The house margarita is bright green and quite delicious. The black raspberry margarita is only available by the glass. They also serve a nice variety of Mexican beer ranging from the ubiquitous Corona and Dos Equis to the lesser known and probably more delicious Bohemia, Negro Modelo, and Modelo especial.
My father’s favorite Mexican food hands down is chili rellenos, so of course I had to order them as my main course on my first visit. The meal came with 2 large chile rellenos, rice and re-fried beans. This was a solid chile rellenos — cheese stuffed poblano peppers in a tomato-based sauce. I loved the rice and refried beans – and look at the char on the peppers. My father would love it.
Another go-to entree for me is the fajitas. I was in the mood for steak, so I ordered the steak fajitas on my next visit. The steak came out sizzling on the cast iron plate – as it should be along with sauteed green pepper, onion and tomato. I liked that they used tomato in the fajitas as well. It really made it quite tasty. The fajitas come with a second plate containing rice, refried beans, guacamole and pico de gallo as well as tortillas so that you can dress the tacos as you see fit. Perfect!
One of the entrees recommended to us by the server was the Tinga Poblano, shredded chicken cooked with chipotle, tomato, potato, onion and sour cream. It was not something I would have ordered without the recommendation, but I was glad we did. It was really good.
You can also order a la carte items and combine them to make Small (2) and Large (3) Combos. The combos are served with rice and refried beans. It allows diners to order exactly what they are in the mood for. I like that option. I’m not sure what my fellow diner chose here, but it is beautifully plated so I wanted to include it. It looks like a taco and a beef enchilada.
The fried ice cream and sopapilla are perfect for sharing. The fried ice cream is served on a cinnamon sugar toasted tortilla shell. The sopapilla are little fried cinnamon sugar tortillas with whipped cream. Both are a sweet and delicious way to end your meal.
Villa y Zapata
8505 Madison Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44102