It’s very rare that I make it back to a restaurant as quickly as I did to review El Zaziummm. I attended their 25th anniversary party back in June and a couple of weeks later I organized (with plenty of wonderful help) a sit down dinner to try a little more food in a setting that had less to do with partying and more to do with enjoying a moment in the restaurant. An authentic sit down dinner is a much better way to gage how a normal night out will unravel.
El Zaziummm’s brightly decorated dining room is entirely unique and gives the restaurant an instantly friendly and unpretentious vibe. There’s so much to catch your eye that it’s almost a little dizzying which works well here. If you’re looking for an escape from a long day at work or you want to do something out of the ordinary with your friends or family, just stepping into this restaurant is a great way to get started. I love the ceiling of sombreros (which I actually wish was even bigger and covered more ceiling surface) and the fun little tchotchkes hidden around the restaurant. Whoever decorated this place must have had lots of fun doing so.
The service we had during our dinner was splendid. Normally when a restaurant knows we’re coming there’s a little nervousness detected in the wait staff (especially since I tell it as I see it) but here we we’re treated as warmly as nonchalantly as any other guest in the restaurant. Our waitress was respectful and honest and that goes a long way in city where professional wait staff is hard to come by.
We kept the food simple. We tried appetizers like crunchy fish tacos (one of my favourite things on the menu), nachos with homemade guacamole and of course a couple of delicious cocktails that should come with their own Mexican sandy beaches. We tried their burritos which can be topped with one of several spicy hot sauces. They have an exhaustive collection of hot sauces that is unrivalled on the Plateau and we also tried their El Zaziummm burger which was strongly suggested by our waitress. The beef patty was freshly handmade, cooked to juicy perfection and tasted wonderful. Their food plays it somewhat safe, with a bit of a spicy twist, which is perfectly fine. It’s the quality of the food they use in the dishes they prepare that makes it taste so good and that makes a huge difference.
A restaurant doesn’t last for 25 years in Montreal without doing something right. El Zaziummm is full of surprises and has become one of my favourite Mexican places in the city. If you’re looking for good, unpretentious food with a little south of the border influence, you should give this place a try.
Image credit: David Major-Lapierre