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Dining News: Zocalo's Food is 'Only Occasionally Delightful'

Zocalo

I'm a big fan of Zocalo. They're a solid choice when you want Mexican food in an upscale setting. I like to think of them like Paesanos - pleasing and decent food but not trying to be something it's not.

My go to dish there is the conchita pibil, which Wikipedia describes as a traditional Mexican slow-roasted pork dish from the Yucatán Península of Mayan origin. I'd just describe it as delicious.

Sac Bee restaurant critic Blair Anthony Robertson's experiences seem to be different than mine.

The best part of the Zocalo experience just may be the building. It excites the senses and signals that something special might be on the way. Even the noise – the acoustics are awful – creates a sense of anticipation in diners approaching the restaurant. There’s a hum, a buzz. But surely those inside can’t be buzzing about the menu, as the food is mostly acceptable and only occasionally delightful.

Part of the problem is consistency and quality. During one visit, our carnitas were too dry and chewy. Another time, they were dark, glistening and delicious. A third time, all we could taste what seemed to be a vaguely citrus marinade, and the texture was nearly more mushy than meaty...

The conchita pibil ($16.99) was even better, an excellent example of a pork shoulder cooked to tender perfection and flavored with an achiote rub and habanero salsa.

Best of all may have been the fish tacos. Fish that is plump and battered and ample, on tacos that are nicely accessorized and delicious. The only thing holding them back from greatness are the ho-hum corn tortillas that look and taste mass-produced – rigidly uniform and rather bland. And at $14.99, this plate of tacos is on the pricey side of reasonable.

Read the entire review in the Sac Bee.

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