Food Fight: Z&H Taco Night

Z&H Review Photo

Thumbs Up

//Written by Clark Halpern//

Everyone at Z&H Taco Night is happy. As you walk in, you get hit with a wave of laughing workers, visibly content customers, and delicious smells. During the day, Z&H operates under its original purpose as a coffee shop and deli, serving up fantastic sandwiches and salads with a comfortable atmosphere. But on Friday and Saturday nights, as the sun begins to set, Z&H transforms into a whole new restaurant. Gone are the chicken salad sandwiches and cappuccinos served to professors and grad students on their lunch break. Instead, Z&H is flocked to by hungry undergrads in search of the fresh, delicious food for an affordable price. No matter the time of night, it is always packed by groups of friend taking advantage of the BYOB policy while they either munch on their food or wait in excited anticipation.

After you order your food from the cashier, and wait for your name to be called from the back, you really should be waiting in excited anticipation. Their tacos, unsurprisingly, are the focal point of the meal, with the four exciting options of chicken, braised beef, pulled pork, and vegan sweet potato and seitan for the excellent price of $2.20 each.

My favorite is the chicken taco, which has finely shredded pieces of moist chicken with jalapeno pico de gallo and truly amazing orange chutney. Not to be discounted is the sweet potato and seitan taco, served with cabbage and a smooth black bean spread. A surprising, but welcome, addition to the menu is the kale salad, served with onion, bell pepper, and creamy avocado-lime vinaigrette. The quesadillas and burritos, also phenomenal, fill out the rest of the menu.

Overall, if you’re looking for a great dinner Friday or Saturday nights in Hyde Park, make sure to go to Z&H Taco Night. The atmosphere is great, the employees are happy to see you, and the food is fresh, cheap, and delicious. But beware, because as of right now the Z&H Taco Night is still on a trial run; so be sure to experience it soon.
Z&H Review Photo
Taken by Joy Cho

Thumbs Down

//Written by Joy Cho//

I love the sandwiches and soups at Z&H, so when I heard about their taco nights on Friday and Saturday from 6-11 PM, I had pretty high expectations. Keeping the store open late to serve up tacos and other Mexican-inspired fare seemed so hip and classy. A group of people and I headed over to Z&H around 10 PM on a Friday night, full of curiosity and anticipation, especially as I had previously heard good things about the taco night. We were to leave exactly one hour later, sorely disappointed and full of regret (i.e., we should have gone to Maravillas or Chipotle).

After perusing their abbreviated menu, a couple of us ordered tacos while the rest went for the burritos. I had eaten a big dinner a couple hours ago, so out of the different meat and veggie options, I ordered a single chicken taco. Upon scouting out the sitting area in the back and finding that it was full, we came back inside and barely managed to find seats at a long table along the side, with all the chairs facing the wall.

We talked and joked around for a while, but after about 15-20 minutes, we still had not gotten our food. One friend went up to the front to ask about the status of our orders, and was assured that our food was on its way. A few more minutes passed, and we began to feel a bit irritated. Sure, the place was rambunctious and lively, full of tipsy people having a good time, but how long does it take to put a few tacos together?

One of my friends finally received her food, each of the tacos rolled in paper and taped shut. When she opened the (small) package, she found a (puny) taco, which she had to unroll to get it back to its original taco-y shape. After a bite, she disappointingly relayed to us that it was “okay”—mediocre, all-right, nothing special.

When I got my taco (which was more than five minutes later), I didn’t expect much. Sure enough, I found that the ingredients were very sporadically thrown into the taco, with a thick layer of chicken on one side, some kind of marmalade on the other, and some kind of smoked vegetable sprinkled throughout. The different ingredients sounded exciting, but the flavors just didn’t pair together very well at all. It was smoky, dry, salty, and sweet (and have I mentioned how small they were?), and these distinct tastes were largely isolated from one another. Perhaps if I got all the flavors in each bite, it would have been a different story.

Long story short, we all eventually got our food. One girl in our group actually received her beef burrito a couple minutes before they closed, with no apology, even though she had waited nearly an hour for her food. They had first given her the wrong order, and then apparently forgot about her order until she approached a worker in the kitchen area. Everyone agreed that the food was very mediocre, and that service was severely lacking. I get that the ambiance isn’t characteristic of some fancy high-class eatery, but I also think that it’s common courtesy to at least apologize for messing up an order and getting the food to you ridiculously late. Instead, we were met by a frazzled employee, squawking the names of the orders across the boisterous room.

So if you’re in the mood for uninspiring and puny tacos, long waits, and poor service, then head to Z&H’s weekend taco nights. If not, then satisfy your taco craving elsewhere: somewhere you’ll get good portions and satisfaction for your buck (and won’t have to wait too long to get them).



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