When Salvador Zamuvio, 36, opened La Capital Mexican Grill on the northeast corner of 6th & Fairmount in September 2021, he was fulfilling the American Dream. While Solo played a part by leasing him the space, it was Zamuvio’s drive and ambition, and persistence that made it all come true.
Growing up in Mexico City, Salvador had no idea that the delicious tacos of his hometown would someday become the basis of his business model. “I was a student in Mexico,” said Zamuvio. “But when I came to Philadelphia in 2012, I worked for three years at Twenty Manning Grill with Chef Kiong Banh, and he became my mentor.”
An immigrant himself, Chef Banh worked in the kitchens of Philadelphia’s 5-star hotels, including the Rittenhouse, before joining forces with Audrey Claire Taichman to create the Asian-influenced New American cuisine for which he is famous. For a newcomer to the food industry like Zamuvio, this opportunity allowed him to learn from one of Philly’s most revered executive chefs.
It was in the kitchen of Twenty Manning, working with Chef Bahn, that Zamuvio’s passion for cooking ignited. Something else good happened there. Zamuvio met his wife Laura who also worked there. Following his apprenticeship with Chef Banh, Zamuvio and Laura started a food truck at Temple University, specializing in tacos. Laura took orders and Zamuvio cooked.
“All the ingredients were fresh,” said Zamuvio. “I made Al Pastor Tacos with pork marinated in dried chilies spices and pineapple on a twelve-inch flour tortilla with black beans, white rice, lettuce, and pico de gallo.”
If that doesn’t wake up your taste buds, Zamuvio also makes Quesabirria, slowly braised brisket with cilantro, onion, and lime. And Street Corn, corn on the cob slathered in mayonnaise and chili powder.
The recipes are his own creation. He said Mexico City is known as “the capital of tacos” and so his recipes are inspired by that idea. “Sometimes people will make suggestions and I will tweak the menu but I draw inspiration from many sources,” he said.
Zamuvio’s food truck was popular on Temple’s Campus for over five years, from when it first opened in 2015 until it closed in 2021 when they decided to open a brick-and-mortar restaurant. “We were very busy and that is what made us decide we need more space,” he said. Now that Laura is home caring for the baby, Zamuvio does all the cooking and sometimes he is also the server, the dishwasher, and the cashier.
“From the start, students from Temple came to La Capital Grill. They missed us and we missed them,” said Zamuvio. “Now area residents are coming.” Before Zamuvio had leased the space it had been a Guatemalan restaurant.
Meanwhile, the pandemic presents its own challenges. “It is very difficult to find people to work in the restaurant,” said Zamuvio. 20% of the restaurant’s business is dine-in and 80% is takeout or delivery. “My goal is to continue building the business and be able to have a little less stress and more calmness,” he said.
La Capital Mexican Grill’s menu now goes far beyond tacos and includes: Vegetarian Quesadillas, Chicken Enchiladas Suizas, Shrimp Fajitas, Milanesa de Pollo Torta, Molletes, and Beef Nachos.
We hope you will join us in welcoming and supporting one of Solo’s newest tenants. Buen provecho!