Zoot Suit was well received in its initial production in Los Angeles. In his review for Theatre Journal, Jules Aaron laudes the play for its ability to both entertain and make a political statement. Aaron also notes the emotional content of the play. Richard Eder for The New York Times echoed Aaron's observations that the play is both entertaining and political. He adds that Zoot Suit is a blend of Cantinflas and Brecht. Eder adds his critique that the play is too specific to the Chicano community and lacks universality.
Valdez's play did not receive the same feelings in New York City when it made its Broadway debut. Richard Eder voiced a different opinion of the Broadway staging from when he saw the production in L.A. Eder notes that the design elements lacked harmony, and that Zoot Suit failed to combine entertainment with symbolism, plot, and moral. A week later, a New York Times review by Walter Kerr criticizes Valdez for his use of clichés. Kerr also complains of the lack of emotional connection between David Valdez and Miss Hensel, who play Henry and Alice, respectively.