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Food & Drink Reviews

zapatistaFoodShot.jpg Zapatista Burrito Bar

It give me a frankly unwarranted warm glow as I’d fooled myself into thinking that I was doing good by directing my funds away from faceless online retailers and supporting a plucky little independent corner shop that exists solely to stand up to The Man. I pictured myself in some kind of Ealing film whereby I managed to crash the entire evil Internet through the simple act of purchasing the new One Direction album. HMV isn’t plucky or independent however. It isn’t even on the corner. It’s like Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, forever trying to recapture past glories while the rest of the world moves on: “I am big! It’s the high-street that got small!”

Real independents CAN thrive in city centres however, especially the ones that offer stuff that you just can’t download – like food.

One such place is the Zapatista Burrito Bar that can be found in Newcastle just off Northumberland Street. It was certainly busier than HMV when I popped in one weekday lunchtime with a sizeable queue waiting patiently at the counter.

The staff however had a level of efficiency not usually seen outside a Formula One pit-stop lane, and I was soon enjoying face time with a friendly youth asking what I’d like. As its name hints at, Zapatista is a burrito bar which you can have either in a warm 12” tortilla, or naked (i.e. in a basket). You can also plump for a fajita (same as a burrito but with sautéed peppers and onions instead of beans), nachos, meaty nachos, salad bowl, chilli & rice, or, what I had, tacos.

These are three crispy corn or soft flour 6” tortillas (soft flour for me) that I had filled with char grilled chicken, spicy shredded beef and sweet shredded pork (one filling in each). I also had some spicy beans, salsa (there’s a choice ranging from mild to very hot) and sour cream.

You can eat in or take-out, and, thanks to the extra room upstairs which had a decent amount of tables, I opted to eat in.

The place is nicely done out, all exposed brickwork, wooden floorboards, Mexican style murals, and the odd revolutionary on the walls who, I’m sure, would have killed for such food in the past (and no doubt did during the Mexican revolution). For, make no mistake, this was – for £4.20 – excellent grub. The meats were all nicely spiced and the sour snap of the cream was an effective bulwark against the heat of the salsa.

There was a pretty high turnover of customers that came and went when I was there, but you never feel like you’re being hurried. Indeed, you’re positively encouraged to relax as they also have plenty of cold beers for sale (Corona, San Miguel, Desperados etc) as well as wines, tequila and margaritas, and you certainly don’t want to be rushing that lot.

Chilli and chillin’ – rock and roll. RM

Zapatista Burrito Bar, 28 Ridley Place, Newcastle. Mon-Sat 11am-7pm, Sun 11am-5pm. 0191 261 7769. www.zapatistaburrito.com