Having recently enjoyed the cuisine of Oaxaca, we were pleased to hear that Ricardo Ramos had opened a Brighton outpost of Zocalo Cocina Mexicana on the site of the former Uva and Istanbul Café.
We called at 7:15 pm on a Saturday night to see if they could accommodate a party of four. We were told that the wait would be 35-40 minutes but the receptionist was willing to take our name over the phone. When we arrived at 8:00 the wait would be another 35-40 minutes, so we repaired to the bar. The restaurant is still waiting for its liquor license, so the bar only served wine, beer, and sangria, but they did have two types of Dos Equis on tap, so all was not lost. As it was we were seated after a few minutes anyway.
The atmosphere is colorful and lively. The patrons are mostly in their 20s and 30s, but all ages were represented and everyone appeared to be having a good time. We were immediately supplied with some tortilla chips and some excellent salsa, the latter containing plenty of cilantro.
We ordered some Guacamole en Molcajete ($8.5) which was plentiful if somewhat bland, and the Tostada De Nopales ($6) a tasty combination of marinated cactus, lettuce, anejo cheese, salsa verde and chipotle sauce on top of three corn tortillas.
We also had a bottle of 2002 Bodega Pirineos Moristel ($31) from the Somontano region in northeast Spain. The Moristel grape is usually only found in a blend with Parraleta or Tempranillo, and we were pleased to be able to see that it held its own as a varietal.
For main courses we had Cochinita Pibil ($26) - shredded pork with orange, onions, chile chipotle and tomatoes, served with rice and beans, Chiles Rellenos de Pollo Mole ($16), and Enchiladas Rancheras ($12). All were at least as good as anything we had in Oaxaca.
The dessert choice was limited - Flan or Chocolate Bread Pudding ($5). We shared a bread pudding and found it adequate.
We would definitely go again.
Zocalo Cocina Mexicana
1414 Commonwealth Ave
(at Kelton Street)
Brighton, MA 02135
Reservations Accepted - some tables saved for walk-ins
Parking behind Brookline Liquors - stop at the restaurant for a permit