Heaping Helpings: Troy’s La Capital Tacos thriving by delivering authentic Mexico City flavors

Chef/Owner Yair De La Rosa plates a carne asada quesadilla at La Capital Tacos located at 161 Fourth Street in Troy.
Chef/Owner Yair De La Rosa plates a carne asada quesadilla at La Capital Tacos located at 161 Fourth Street in Troy.

You no longer need a passport to get a taste of Mexico City. Now, it’s just a short ride to La Capital Tacos on 4th Street in Troy.

Yair De La Rosa made the leap from chef to chef/owner with his opening of La Capital Tacos on Jan. 1.

“It was a little scary to just open during the pandemic with other restaurants closing. It was a scary challenge, but Troy was good for us,” De La Rosa said. “Since we’ve opened, we’ve been doing very good.”

De La Rosa signed a lease for the former Capitaland Taxi Stand building, a fixture in downtown Troy for decades, in the summer of 2020.

He wasn’t in a hurry to open — because he couldn’t.

“All of this is me. We put in everything,” De La Rosa explained, showing off the newly installed kitchen. “There was no gas. They had to bring the gas from the middle of the road.

“That’s why we couldn’t say no [to opening], because we already signed a lease.”

There’s another reason for bringing a taste of Mexico City to the Capital Region, he said: to follow the American dream.

With a resume full of kitchen experience, the La Capital Tacos chef/owner packs flavor into every bite of his tacos and quesadillas.

“The concept we have is more about a Mexico City-style taco,” De La Rosa said. “Not Tex-Mex, not American tacos, not bistro fusion tacos. I never see tacos like how we do in Mexico: Simple, but good. Meat, tortilla, sauce, that’s it.”

De La Rosa explains that the supersizing of tacos in the United States has ruined his other favorite food, pizza.

“It is just like a pizza — dough, sauce and cheese to make a good pizza, especially in New York,” De La Rosa said. “If you put 10 toppings on pizza you are going to lose what it is.

“It’s the same thing with a taco. If you want to put 10 items on then you’re not going to taste the meat every time. In Mexico we don’t do cheese, lettuce. We don’t do that.”

De La Rosa said the flavors don’t disappoint.

“I know it sounds boring, but if you’ve got [a] good product it’s not going to be boring,” he said.

De La Rosa is adamant about keeping his selections fresh.

“We only use two coolers. We don’t have a big frost freezer, not a big cooler to keep the food for a week. We keep it in-and-out,” he said. “Customers, they know fresh food.”

Fresh idea
De La Rosa arrived in the United States from Mexico in 2002, working on the line in restaurants and eventually assisting in opening restaurants from Florida to New York.

His heart brought him to the Capital Region and Troy for La Capital Tacos.

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“The whole Capital District, there are a few places that are Mexican, like a restaurant, but there is not like a taco from Mexico City, outside on the street,” De La Rosa said. “You eat easy, simply small tacos.

“In Mexico City, when you go there, you see outside taco stands on every corner, like coffee shops here.”

His small kitchen facing 4th street is equipped with two grill stations, a temperamental tortilla press and oven in a corner, and a vertical spit, both from Mexico City.

Each day the restaurant’s sauces and tortillas are made fresh.

There isn’t a palate that La Capital Tacos can’t satisfy with its variety of flavors — carne asada [New York strip], pollo asada [grilled chicken], al pastor [marinated pork], chorizo [Mexican sausage], carnitas [braised pork], calabacitas [yellow squash, zucchini and pico de gallo] and tacos con todos [cheese, guacamole, lettuce, pico de gallo and salsa].
For those seeking something less traditional, De La Rosa can satisfy the Americanized taco customer.

“We sell the traditional and we sell The Works,” De La Rosa said. “The Works is $2 more and you’ve got lettuce, cheese, pico de gallo and crema.”

Not to be overlooked are La Capital Taco’s quesadilla offerings, meals unto themselves.

“Most places you order a quesadilla it is yellow cheese with the 10-inch tortilla. That’s a typical quesadilla,” De La Rosa said. “We make the masa [maize dough], we have a [tortilla] press, put on the Oaxaca [white, semihard cheese], then we put the meat and people love it.

“People are like, ‘I’ve never had this quesadilla!’ I say that’s because it’s an authentic quesadilla.”

La Capital Tacos offers quesadillas in carne asada, pollo asado, al pastor and Oaxaca options.

While the building was being retrofitted for La Capital Tacos, De La Rosa was on the road last summer at outdoor markets in Saratoga Springs, Glens Falls and Troy, building his clientele and exposing the Capital Region to his authentic cuisine.

“We won over many customers because they know about tacos, but nobody sells the tacos like us,” De La Rosa said. “Most of the others have a lot of toppings, like Taco Bell. Taco Bell is good, but we’re different. There are no Taco Bells in Mexico.”

De La Rosa is expanding La Capital Tacos into the adjacent parking lot on Ferry Street with the anticipated arrival of tables, chairs and umbrellas to accommodate outdoor dining. He is also teaming with Sunhee’s Farm and Kitchen, which will be running the bar offerings.

De La Rosa doesn’t regret his decision to sign a lease last summer or kick off 2021 with his grand opening.

“It was 50-50; it was like I didn’t want to do it, but at the same time something told me to do it,” De La Rosa said. “People have a concept [of Mexican food] and as soon as they try our food, they love it. I’m glad I did it.”

La Capital Tacos is open daily with no-contact delivery, delivery and takeout available.

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Categories: Food, Heaping Helpings, Life and Arts

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