I have been a frequent customer of the Ballantyne Zapata's for the past year and a half. By frequent, I mean I am there at least twice a week, and have been there up to 5 occasions in one week! It is my favorite restaurant ever, and having lived in 5 different places in the past 6 years, I have been to my share of restaurants trying to find a decent one. A sort of trial-and-error process, I suppose. Then in October 2007 I found Zapata's when I was out doing some marketing for my place of work and was positively floored.
I sat at the bar while I waited for the owner to arrive and spoke with the bartenders, who took excellent care of me and talked to me as if we had been friends all our lives. Every time I walk in now, they greet me with smiles and hugs, they greet me by name, and know exactly what I want to drink. I have also gotten acquainted with many of the other regulars and it has taken on a feel somewhat like "Cheers." This surprises me because I always figured the Ballantyne area would be really stodgy as most upscale yuppy havens are. Not the case here! You can walk in with jeans or dressy clothes or even sweats after a long day of painting and decorating your apartment. Come as you are!
As far as the menu goes, I recommend the Arroz con Pollo and the Southwestern Quesadilla. The only thing I have had there that I haven't completely loved every time was the Shrimp Tacos, which can sometimes be the best dish on the menu, but depending on the chef you may get burnt shrimp or too much lime in the chipotle sauce. (If you have an aversion to lime like I do that is a problem!)
I have made many friends there over the past year, and would recommend it to nearly anyone. The only real con of the place is if you will be drinking the tab can get a little high. I don't mind paying that little extra, but some folks do. Nico and Victor make amazing drinks--and try the Crystal Ball when you are there!
Bon Apetit! Or rather, Buen Provecho!
Pros: Amazing food, best drinks in town, great sincere service
Cons: Parking and the wait for a table can be tricky on weekends, drinks are a little pricier