TROY, N.Y. — Ever since its ribbon-cutting in February, La Capital Tacos has seen steady business. The new eatery, located at 161 4th St., has a small menu that focuses on simple, high-quality authentic Mexican food. It’s the only one of its kind in the Capital Region.
La Capital Tacos gets its name from a double entendre. “La Capital” is indicative not only of the Capital Region, but of Mexico City, the capital of Mexico and the hometown of owner Yair De La Rosa.
De La Rosa is very grateful that his new business is doing well. He feels it’s a reflection on the city itself that he can be successful in the middle of a pandemic.
“If the city does good, I do good too,” De La Rosa commented. “Opening a business in a pandemic is not easy. I have to thank the Mayor [Patrick Madden] and the media, and everyone who gave us so much support.”
It’s easy to support a restaurant like La Capital Tacos. De La Rosa’s focus on simple, fresh, high-quality food is a recipe for success. The restaurant is the only taqueria around that doesn’t dabble in “Tex-Mex,” focusing just on authentic Mexican cooking. The authenticity is the very reason why De La Rosa opened La Capital Tacos in the first place.
“I didn’t see this kind of food here,” he said about why he chose to open a taco restaurant. “There was similar, but it wasn’t what I wanted.”
Authenticity is a top priority for De La Rosa. His tacos are simple, made with simple ingredients that are always fresh and high quality. That is the secret to real Mexican tacos.
“Tortillas, meat, and sauce – that’s all it takes,” said De La Rosa. “That’s how it’s done in Mexico City. My recommendation for people who want to try doing their own tacos is to just do those three things. If you like that, then if you want you can add all the other stuff.”
The “other stuff” De La Rosa refers to is the plethora of toppings people often load onto their tacos, such as rice, beans, vegetables like lettuce and tomato, and condiments like sour cream and guacamole. Once you start down that path, you’re straying from true authentic Mexican food and entering the land of Tex-Mex.
While there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s not what De La Rosa aims to serve his customers.
“He’s got really good authentic recipes. I love Mexican food, and I haven’t come across any other places that do the authentic cooking, where they just focus on the tortillas, the meat, and the sauce,” commented Leanne Otero, one of De La Rosa’s coworkers who went to work for La Capital Tacos after losing her desk job due to the pandemic. She and De La Rosa have previous experience working together, and Otero was glad to join his team.
“I’m happy here, I like it way better than an office job,” Otero added.
Part of what makes La Capital Tacos so unique isn’t just what they make, it’s how they make it. Much of the heavy machinery in the kitchen was imported directly from Mexico, including their tortilla maker. Unveiled at the ribbon-cutting, the tortilla machine is going to be a key part of future plans for the restaurant.
De La Rosa would like to start selling tortillas wholesale, so that people can do taco nights at home. Those who want to take it one step further and make the tortillas themselves might soon have that option. Part of the wholesale plan includes making and selling blue and white nixtamal, the ground cornmeal used to make masa, which is then turned into tortillas. De La Rosa is currently working out a business partnership with a supplier in New York City to try to make that happen.
Plans are also in place to bring the delicious food of La Capital Tacos outside the little eatery, in more ways than one. Once nice weather arrives, De La Rosa would like to set up an outdoor eating and cooking area. He also wants to sell his food at farmers’ markets and festivals around the Capital Region. He’s already doing this successfully and wants to not only continue but grow those opportunities.
De La Rosa is also working with his business partner, Jinah Kim of SunHee’s Farm and Kitchen, to make good things happen at his restaurant. Kim, who owns the building, is planning to run a full bar in the front of the house while De La Rosa works his magic in the kitchen. Part of their rental agreement was that in exchange for furnishing and remodeling the kitchen (which took a lot of work), La Capital Tacos will have 15 months on the lease rent-free.
“It was a big project,” Otero said of the kitchen. “There was so much stuff back there, it looked like an attic.”
It was worth the effort because the new commercial kitchen setup is what allows La Capital Tacos to create the delicious food it’s quickly gaining attention for.
Ingredients are made or purchased fresh daily. There are no freezers anywhere in the kitchen. As much as possible is made from scratch. Otero hopes that working at the farmers’ markets will create opportunities for business deals with some of the farmers, so that ingredients will not only be fresh but locally sourced as well.
Food isn’t prepared until an order is placed. Each order comes with a wedge of lime and a small container of salsa verde. You might not need either, though, because the food is so full of flavor that it really doesn’t require further toppings. For those who are feeling adventurous, you can request an order of picante sauce for your tacos. Made fresh each day, it’s more of a paste than a sauce, and a little goes a long way.
“The picante is so spicy,” commented Otero. “I love spicy food, and it’s a lot even for me.”
La Capital Tacos has lots of options for getting your food. You can order at the restaurant, by phone, or online. You can pick your food up in person, or have it delivered by Mealeo. A GrubHub option is in the works. There’s limited indoor seating, or you can get your food to go.
Whatever way you choose, the end result is delicious, fresh, authentic Mexican food that will hopefully soon be seen all over the Capital Region.