The little Mexican gem that has to turn down diners you’ve almost certainly passed

Tucked between a dog groomer and a men’s barbershop is one of Stockport’s finest restaurants.

You’ve probably walked past it without realizing it, but this neighborhood gem is definitely not to be missed.

La Capilla, on Manchester Road in Heaton Chapel, is a Mexican taqueria and although it’s only been open for 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 salesperson mentioned when I asked about places to go, which admittedly enticed me even more into buying.

There are of course plenty of 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 just a handful of tables and dishes bursting with flavor.

I visited my family for the first time on a cold Saturday evening in January and couldn’t wait to book my next visit.

On my first trip the waiters had to turn people away all night long because they were full.

When I returned last Saturday every table was full again, with a large group supported by the bar, but it seemed everyone knew they had to get a reservation at least a week in advance to avoid disappointment .

What you first notice when you enter is the large bar to the left which leads into the open kitchen, with only two chefs in action.

Spicy Margin… Frozen Margin Gone Too Soon

The fact that you can see your food being cooked 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 with a wall at one end.

We start with drinks, and as a table of four ordered a spicy margarita, a Neck Oil beer, a Mexpresso Martini and an ice cold margarita for myself – which is so good that I drink it too quickly and forget to to take a picture.

Behind the bar you can see the slushy type machines for frozen margins, which also come in mango flavor.

Salt cod croquettes

While waiting for our main courses, we nibble on more gourmet fries with tasty sauces of Yucatan pumpkin seeds, salsa verde and chipotle cream (£6).

First our Salt Cod Croquettes arrive (£4.50) which, although fried, has a light taste. The fish is not too overwhelming and melts in your mouth, complemented by green aioli.

The well-balanced mackerel side

My friends say their mackerel tostada (£5.50) is perfectly cooked and charred, with a well balanced smoky flavor paired with an aji crema sauce and a crispy tortilla for extra texture.

Last time I visited 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 braised black beans, fluffy rice, lettuce and salsa verde.

Maybe they don’t want to complicate their dishes too much, but I thought there could have been another vegetable element, like onion.

Braised black bean burrito

My boyfriend goes rogue and has the pork burrito (£9) – which has three chilli symbols next to its name – listed as ‘for the brave only’.

He says the meat was well flavored with a good amount of spices, but a bit dry. He agrees that the rice was light and fluffy and points out that there was an optimal rice to meat ratio.

Our friends share the pulled pork tacos (£8.50), which they say pack a real punch, and come with red onion and habanero salsa.

And also the slow-cooked beef tacos (£8.50), which are said to also melt in your mouth, with the salsa verde bringing freshness to break up the flavour.

The table full of dishes full of flavors

The fluffy corn tortillas that make up the base of the tacos are nothing like the ones we’ve had before, and the taste of the dishes all seem authentic, as my friend compares them to the 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), of which we had two servings, and could easily have asked for more.

The corn was so soft it was almost falling off the center cob, sprinkled with chilli and dipped in lime which made them taste so fresh and slightly sweet. They were also topped with crumbled feta, which cleansed the palate after each bite.

Star of the show – street style corn elotes for a high five

So stuffed we avoid dessert, but last time I came my family and I made room for the piping hot churros to share (£5) which come brushed with cinnamon, accompanied by a pot of chocolate hot and dulce de leche.

As the friendly waitress clears our plates she tells us she loves working there as there are never any complaints about the food.

Commenting that it’s always busy, she said: “It’s like starting at 5:30 p.m. everyone decides they want Mexican food.”

She says the head chef created the menu himself and the restaurant is owned by Stockport hospitality magnate Steve Pillings – who is the man behind Produce Hall and Heaton Moor’s Spanish tapas restaurant, La Cantina.

When comparing La Capilla to other Greater Manchester tacos, which have become more popular over the years, it is very reasonably priced.

You’ll need to take out another mortgage to frequent Pico’s tacos at Mackie Mayor, which sell four tiny tacos for £16, 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 the ingredients.

Like other locals, I will regularly visit La Capilla as part of its loyal fanbase, but even if you are based further afield it is well worth stopping by.

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