Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Capital Tacos

One of our local food critics (Laura Reiley of the Tampa Bay Times) recently posted a note on Twitter about an interesting new taco stand up in Land O' Lakes called Capital Tacos (6765 Land O' Lakes Boulevard). Always on the lookout for new places to try, I added CT to my future hit list and managed to make the drive to check it out a few Fridays ago for lunch. I was vaguely aware that Land O' Lakes was located somewhere in my neck of woods here in northwest Tampa, but didn't realize that it was halfway to Weeki Wachee, a solid half-hour drive north from the Canteen past the charming advertisements for Paradise Lakes Resort ("Clothing optional!") and numerous strip malls (which are not as nudist-friendly) lining U.S. 41 through Pasco County.

CT is a little hard to spot from the highway as it's nestled in the corner of one of these nondescript developments (I passed it up and had to double-back). Anyway, once I arrived, I was pleasantly impressed by the breadth and originality of the food offerings. In addition to about 20 different flavor combos (which can be purchased in taco, bowl, burrito, nacho, or salad forms), hungry diners can also select from a number of breakfast combos (mostly involving variations on scrambled eggs) that are available all day (including migas, a mixture of eggs, chiles, crunchy corn strips, and cheese that I hadn't seen anywhere since my Dallas days). With all of these tempting choices, it's easy to find your head spinning with indecision - luckily, I had a few minutes in line to peruse the menu before reaching the counter.

Given that I wanted to try so many items and I didn't know when I'd be back up here, I clearly over-ordered, picking 3 tacos, plus a bucket of chips/salsa on the side. What you see above is the first of my tacos, called the Austinite, a combo of carne asada, jack and cheddar cheeses, caramelized onions, avocado, sour cream, Chihuahua cheese, and chipotle ranch salsa. I figured that any place professing to have better-than-average tacos should be able to execute a solid carne asada and it wasn't bad, although I found the meat to be a little on the bland side (of course, that could also be the zinc lozenges I'd been taking for a mounting cold deadening my taste buds). The mild salsa I picked to go with the tortilla chips (which were homemade, fresh, and tasty) were loaded with big chunks of tomato and onions, a plus in my book.

I did my best to polish off the other two tacos, a Johnny Reb (smoked sausage, corn kernels, pico de gallo, jack and cheddar cheeses, and poblano ranch salsa) and a Mean Verde (fried avocado, refried pinto beans, queso dip, lettuce, pico de gallo, jack and cheddar cheeses, corn strips, and poblano ranch salsa). Both were good, if not a tad on the sloppy side, and I washed them down with a bottle of Sangria Senorial, a Mexican soda that really does taste like sangria without the after-effects of that pesky alcohol.

CT appears to appeal to both Pasco County civil servants (lots of firemen, teachers, and parks department workers were there for lunch that day) and the local hipster element (I can't recall seeing a cook wearing a fedora in the kitchen before) alike, so the owner's concept seems to be pretty solid. I feel like if they can sharpen up their execution just a bit (maybe eliminate one or two toppings from each flavor choice to cut down on the clutter?), they'd have a taco stand worthy of a regular 30-minute drive to the far reaches of the metro area. In any case, I'm anxious for my next visit so I can sample a few of the breakfast creations (especially the migas)...

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