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“If you like Toreros you will like El Zarape”
Review of El Zarape

El Zarape
Ranked #22 of 41 Restaurants in Emerald Isle
Cuisines: Mexican
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Large groups, Bar scene, Families with children
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner
Durham, North Carolina
Level Contributor
274 reviews
240 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 68 helpful votes
“If you like Toreros you will like El Zarape”
Reviewed October 10, 2013

I'm not sure I like really authentic Mexican food, what I do like is the small chains that give you salsa and chips right away and have combination plates that let you pick a couple of items, and have rice and beans with it. It could be Tex Mex for all I know. This place is fine if they are not rushed. Lots of restaurants are this way. If I go to one where everyone is milling around, looking harried, it's recause the are! They could be short handed that night, main cook is drunk, two new waiters, overload if guests come in at the same time, etc. etc.. Just get out and go somewhere else, don't fight it.

  • Visited September 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank robert r
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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170 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    44
    61
    37
    14
    14
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Raleigh, North Carolina
Level Contributor
53 reviews
29 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“Well it's coastal Carolina...”
Reviewed September 25, 2013

...so you wouldn't expect to find stellar Mexican food here. And at El Zarape, you won't...but it's not bad. Fish tacos were alright (although fried fish was the only choice), a shrimp and rice dish was OK, but shrimp were pretty small. Guacamole was pretty standard, chips and salsa were fine.

In fact the only thing that wasn't average/OK was the special mango frozen margarita. It tasted like Tang (the 1960s powdered drink) mixed into a Slurpee, and almost no alcohol. Simply awful.

Service was friendly, but not polished.

  • Visited September 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank BeyondDownton
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Doylestown, Pennsylvania
2 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Never again!”
Reviewed September 1, 2013

My husband and I have been going to Emerald Isle for about 20 years. Last year was the first time we tried El Zarape. The food was decent, so decided to go again for dinner on one of the evenings we spent in EI this year. Upon arrival, around 7 PM on a Thursday, the restaurant was busy, with a short line of folks waiting for tables, and several other couples arriving at the same time as us. The host, who might also be the manager or owner, handed us all a beeper. He kept leaving the entry area and checked the seating areas, then would return to the entry area, wordless and unsmiling the entire time. To say he looked harried was an understatement. There were many servers going through the various dining areas, but we also noticed several tables that remained un-bussed for quite some time after folks departed, One table, in our direct line of sight, sat without so much as a glass being removed, for at least 15 minutes. The host never came up to everyone waiting to apologize for the delay. It was more than obvious that they were severely short-handed on this particular evening. My husband and I decided to move over to the bar area, as there were seats at the bar and we thought we might as well order a drink while we waited. There was a young man behind the bar when we first sat down, and two other people, who came into the restaurant shortly after us, had drinks already when we sat down. The fellow behind the bar was too busy to notice us, as he was chatting away with a young woman at the end of the bar, who was having her dinner there, as well as another young man, who was obviously acquainted with the fellow behind the bar. The fellow we believed to be the bartender left and then we saw several waiters come and go from behind the bar, making drinks for their own customers. None of them said anything to us, although I would not necessarily have expected them to. They seemed extremely busy, having to not only take orders and bring out food, but make the drinks too! After about 10 minutes, the host came behind the bar to get something. He looked right at us, never asking if we were taken care of, and started to walk away, even as my husband said, "Excuse me!" We looked at each other and both said, "Let's get out of here." As we gathered ourselves to leave, the host saw us and finally asked what we needed. We told him it was too late. My son has worked as a waiter for years and so I know a little about the restaurant business. This was entirely unacceptable. If the restaurant was short-staffed, the patrons should have been informed that the wait would be longer than usual, not just for a table, but for the food and drinks as well. The host's rudeness and lack of communication did not help matters. The food we had there last year was just not worth being subjected to what we were experiencing. Never again!

  • Visited August 2013
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank MommieOD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
Level Contributor
570 reviews
334 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 156 helpful votes
“Good food”
Reviewed August 15, 2013

We have been a few times over the years. It is decent place. The food is good and the service is usually very good. The prices are in line with other Mexican places. I would have no problem telling friends about the place or going back again.

  • Visited August 2013
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Adak C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Columbus, Ohio
Level Contributor
54 reviews
11 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Mexican with a touch of flair.”
Reviewed August 4, 2013

Food was good as we used their take out service. Restaurant was very busy but service was pretty good. Recommended.

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
Thank BJB7775
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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