Nestled in between a dog groomers and a men’s barbershop lies one of Stockport’s best eateries.
You’ve probably driven past it without realizing, but the tiny neighborhood gem is definitely not one to miss.
La Capilla, on Manchester Road in Heaton Chapel, is a Mexican taqueria and while it’s only been open eight months, it’s been the talk of the town ever since.
When I moved to the borough, it was one of the first things my house seller mentioned when I asked about places to go to, which admittedly drew me into the purchase even more.
There are of course many pubs around the Heatons, and the fantastic Feed General Store is just across the road.
But it felt like the area really needed an injection of something different.
The answer was with La Capilla – which offers an intimate yet lively dining experience, with only a handful of tables and food bursting with flavour.
I first visited with family on a cold Saturday night in January, and was all too eager to book my next visit.
On my first trip, the waiting staff were having to turn people away consistently throughout the night as they were full.
When I returned last Saturday, every table was filled again, with a large group propped up by the bar, but it appeared everyone there knew they had to secure a booking at least a week in advance to avoid disappointment.
What you first notice when you walk in is the large bar to the left that leads on to the open kitchen, with just two chefs in action.
The fact you can see your food cooking adds to the excitement, while there is also plenty to catch your eye around the place.
It’s decorated with bold artwork on the walls, with murals including a Day of the Dead skull, and a bright blue fireplace feature wall to one end.
We start with drinks, and as a table of four ordered a spicy margarita, a Neck Oil beer, a Mexpresso Martini, and a frozen margarita for myself – which is so good I drink it too quickly and forget to take a picture.
Behind the bar you can see the slushy-type machines for the frozen margs, which also comes in a mango flavour.
While we wait for our main dishes, we snack on moreish chips with tasty dips of Yucatan pumpkin seed, salsa verde, and chipotle cream (£6).
First off, our salt cod croquettes arrive, (£4.50) which despite being deep-fried, have a light taste. The fish isn’t too overpowering and melts in your mouth, complemented with a green aioli.
My friends say their mackerel tostada (£5.50) is perfectly cooked and charred, with a well balanced smokey flavor paired with aji crema sauce, and a crunchy tortilla for added texture.
Last time I paid a visit, I went for the delicious fish tacos, (£8) so this time I thought I’d try a burrito.
As I don’t eat meat, I ordered the bean option (£8) – which came with saucy braised black beans, fluffy rice, lettuce and salsa verde.
Maybe they don’t want to overcomplicate their dishes, but I felt it could have had another vegetable element, such as onion.
My boyfriend goes rogue and has the pork burrito (£9) – which has three chilli symbols next to its name – listed as ‘only for the brave’.
He says the meat was well-flavoured with a good amount of spice, however a little on the dry side. He agrees the rice was light and fluffy, and points out there was optimum rice to meat ratio.
Our friends share the pulled pork tacos (£8.50), which they say packed a real punch, and comes with red onion and habanero sauce.
And also the slow-cooked beef tacos (£8.50), which they say melts in their mouths too, with salsa verde bringing freshness to break up the flavour.
The soft corn tortillas that make up the base of the tacos are also nothing like we’ve had before, and the taste of the dishes all feel authentic, as my friend compares them to ones she had in San Diego on the Mexican border.
But the star of the show was the small plate of street style corn elotes (£5), which we had two portions of, and could easily have asked for more.
The corn was so soft it almost fell off the center cob, had a sprinkling of chilli and was drenched in lime, making them taste so fresh and slightly sweet. They also came covered in crumbled feta, which cleansed the palate after each bite.
So stuffed, we avoid dessert, but last time I came, my family and I made room for the piping hot churros to share, (£5) that come brushed in cinnamon, accompanied by a pot of hot chocolate and dulce de leche.
As the friendly waitress clears our plates, she tells us that she loves working there because there are never any complaints about the food.
Commenting on how it’s always busy, she said: “It’s as if from 5.30pm everyone decides they want Mexican food”.
She says the head chef created the menu himself, and that the restaurant is owned by Stockport hospitality mogul Steve Pillings – who is the man behind the Produce Hall and Heaton Moor’s Spanish tapas restaurant La Cantina.
When comparing La Capilla to other Greater Manchester taco joints, which have become more popular over the years, it’s very reasonably priced.
You’d have to take out another mortgage to frequent Pico’s Tacos in Mackie Mayor often, who sell four tiny tacos for £16 as a deal, whereas you get three here for £8 or £8.50. And on Tuesdays, they sell two taco dishes for £12.
And while the prices are good, they certainly don’t skimp on the quality and freshness of ingredients.
Like others living in the area, I’ll be paying La Capilla a regular visit as part of its loyal fanbase, but even if you’re based further out, it’s worth stopping by.
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