Thursday, March 27, 2014

Where We Eat: Capital Tacos

I was visiting Sugar and Spice Daycare last week attempting to enroll my new pet calf Lucy (oddly enough, they wouldn’t even consider her for the waiting list). When we reached the parking lot on our way out, we were nearly run over by an out of control car. It came to a screeching halt a few inches from Lucy’s front hoof. Out of the car stepped a tall gangly man wearing neon framed sunglasses, tight pants and a trying too hard to be ironic t-shirt. The passenger side held a strangely attractive short girl with tattoos all over her arms and dark glasses on her face. The guy muttered, “Where are we? I feel like we’ve been in the car for days…”

As Lucy and I approached the guy noticed us for the first time. He took a huge step back. In a typical clipped Tampa accent he said, “What kind of dog is that?” I snickered. “The kind of dog you can milk.” He responded, sounding a bit perplexed, “Oh my god, people out here drink dog milk? Where are we?” I rolled my eyes. “You two are looking for Capital Tacos aren’t you?” He nodded his head and then tried to explain to me what twitter was and how he had heard of this awesome taco place and…I couldn’t keep up with his ramblings. I think Lucy intimidated him.

The truth is, I get it (not the Lucy intimidation part but the wondering where you are). Land O’ Lakes isn’t the most progressive place. You certainly don’t expect to find restaurants with hand carved wooden furniture, mason jar pendants, craft sodas, biodegradable potato starch containers and out of this world taco/burrito/salad/nacho blends. That kind of stuff goes down in Tampa, not Land O’ Lakes.

But Capital Tacos found it the perfect place to set up shop last year. It wasn’t long before Capital Tacos took twitter by storm. I must admit, I ignored it at first. I thought it had something to do with the other Capital places in town and I had no time for that kind of thing. But a few weeks ago, one thing led to another, and there Z-Bot and I were making the long trek out to Land O’ Lakes to experience Capital Tacos.

A check in on Yelp got me a free side of chips as long as I ordered a meal. Not a problem, I could manage that. I requested the Simon Pure (grilled portobello, black beans, pico, bombera salsa and rice) for myself. When I ordered it without cheese the man at the register informed me that if I wanted it completely dairy-free the street corn would have to be removed too. Score. Someone looking out for me. I also ordered a Mean Verde to go (fried avocado, refried pintos, queso, lettuce, pico, jack and cheddar, corn strips) for J-Fur. It normally comes with a poblano ranch salsa, but she suggested I skip it because it might remind Lucy too much of her upbringing.

The first thing I noticed when I sat down was the free chips. Holy nudists! These chips were unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. They were deeply golden in color, large and plump. They were perfectly crisp without the constant need to wipe the grease from your hands onto your pants like other places that make homemade nachos. The chips came salt-free allowing you to perform your own DIY magic. For me, this meant a splash. If my friend HH was along, that would’ve meant a whole truckload. The medium salsa had a nice subtle spice and was not full of the dreaded cilantro. Capital Tacos knew how to spice it just right.

                   The Beautiful DIY-able Chips

Next came the Simon Pure. With one hand on Z-Bot it was impossible to keep the burrito together. Overloaded with portobello, salsa and rice made it a drippy mess. It was the kind of burrito you need to eat two handed and finish with a fork. Without that luxury, I had to start, middle and end it with a fork. The burrito tasted meaty as f***. I had to check a couple times to make sure they didn’t actually serve me animal flesh. Whatever they basted that portobello in was phenomenal. Coupled with the beans, rice and salsa, I watched a burrito fall through my fingers and all over the plate that was comparable to any other I’ve eaten in Tampa. I want tofu, I’ll go to Taco Bus. I want portobello, I’ll go to Capital Tacos. It's as simple as that.

                      The Simon Pure Goodness

As I sat and ate my burrito J-Fur’s was wrapped in a to go bag next to me. About five minutes after I began eating the man behind the counter came over and said, “Here is your burrito to go.” I checked in the bag and already had one. I told him “My other burrito is already in the bag.” He went back to the kitchen to check and then brought it back. “The one in your bag doesn’t have the avocado in it. The person in the kitchen forgot to add it.” That reminded me of one of the complaints I’ve heard about Capital Tacos from friends. They are prone to botching take out orders. Had I left with the burrito instead of sitting in and eating mine, J-Fur would’ve been missing the most important part. If you are ordering out, especially if you are driving up from a Tampa zip, make sure you check your order before you leave. I mean unroll the burrito and everything. Better safe than sorry. With all the ingredients there (and even with substitutions for special diets) these burritos are top notch. Without key ingredients, well, I can’t vouch for them.

         J-Fur’s Mean Verde (from our second visit)

Capital Tacos is good stuff. We’ve been back a few times. They allowed us to sample the soda (pretty good stuff with real sugar). We haven’t tried much else because we keep ordering the exact same thing. That’s when you know it's good. Mark my words, unless something crazy happens, we will be back again and again (and again and again). I'm convinced that eventually there will come a point that entering Land O’ Lakes will be accompanied with a sign that says “Land O’ Lakes, population (who cares) Home of the Famous Capital Tacos.”

Click to add a blog post for Capital Tacos on Zomato

Did I mention that Capital Tacos is a long drive from Tampa? To get there requires a lot of music to listen to or one song on repeat. I choose the latter. On repeat was Galantis’ new song “The Heart That I’m Hearing”. Check it: