Tacos El Capi turns an old people’s bakery into a go-to taqueria – Isthmus
Pampaso, where have you been all my life?
Full disclosure, I’ve known about the pampazo, a Mexican sandwich commonly described as being prepared “marinated” in guajillo pepper sauce, for a long time. But until recently, this sandwich wasn’t common on Madison-area menus. In addition, a sandwich “soaked” in anything just doesn’t look appealing to me.
mistake. My late arrival to the party, that’s on me.
On my first visit to Tacos El Capi, the Mexican place that opened in the former People’s Bakery in late fall, I finally noticed that pampasos aren’t just an old torta dipped in salsa. It is traditionally stuffed with a mixture of potatoes and chorizo (Fries with chorizo) which I love, and finished with lettuce, cheese, mayonnaise and cream. How much damage could Guajillo’s dunking of this goodness do? I asked and never looked back. At Tacos El Capi, the sandwich isn’t that messy—even guajillo pepper lovers might feel like there isn’t enough sauce; “Drenched” is definitely not the descriptor to use.
The red sauce soaks into the bread but also, after a short grill, cuts through the outside of the cake. The potato mash and chorizo sausage blend with the soft inside of the bread, all that cotija cheese, cream, and mayonnaise. I added green hot sauce, which is the mildest sauce available. Carrying subtle coriander notes, it lends a pungent flavor for contrast. I’ve eaten pampasos hot, lukewarm, cold and microwaved. Stuffing potato lovers and you know who you are this dream.
Far from my epiphany, Tacos El Capi is probably best known for the Perria taco, and rightfully so. These are made with beef, which is stewed long and tender, and melted cheese, stuffed into a corn tortilla that has been seared from being dipped in a spicy meat sauce before frying. The tacos are topped with cilantro and chopped onions, and served with sliced radishes, limes, and a cup of meat juice for dipping (or you can have it as a soup). Whether you sip or dip, it’s a rich, hearty dish. The Alberia sandwiches, which come in triples, are best eaten at home, crispy and hot. Consider sharing an order (knowing that leftovers reheat nicely). The sweet, cinnamon-infused horchata complements these flavors beautifully and softens the salty and savory bria in the best way.
Another filling you love in Tacos El Capi is chicken tinga, shredded chicken in a tomato/adobo sauce. The chicken is very tender, very shredded, and remarkably smoky from the adobo. I recommend covering it on the tostadas, which are stuffed with flautas, and especially the inside of the mole chicken enchiladas – although there wasn’t much mole, this was a wonderful comforting dish, as soft as tamales. There are also chicken tamales – like enchiladas, served with rice and beans. Direct rice. Pinto beans.
Unless you’re ordering for the kids, skip the mince filling. The filling for the carnitas, served in traditional tacos, was dry—but not greasy either, which some might appreciate. Alambres (roast beef), al pastor and tongue fillings are also on the menu and come in or in tacos, nachos, tortas, burritos, gorditas, and chimichangas; Plus the Cappy Steak Fries, which is a French fried take on nachos that is a house specialty.
Nothing on the menu is geared specifically to vegans, though staff say the beans aren’t made with lard and any entrée can be made vegan, though that means sticking to beans, lettuce, avocado, rice, pico de gallo, and other toppings.
Paul Hernandez, who started the business, was involved in Mexican restaurants in the area run by his family members including Mercado Marimar, Tapatios Cocina Mexicana and food cart Taquitos Marimar. His team did a great job of cheering up the people’s dark and cluttered bakery space. Cheerful black-and-white chalkboard-style murals cover the walls with Mexican motifs, and a neon sign reads “I Love Tacos El Capi” (an unconscious advertising stunt). The small dining area is convenient to eat in; Eating out also worked smoothly. I love El Capy’s taco.
Al capi taco
2810 E. Washington Ave., 608-630-8048
11am – 8pm Mon-Sat.
3- 14 USD