Talk about your frustrating detours. Barely 36 hours before tomorrow’s scheduled Grand Opening of Captain Poncho’s Mexican Grill in Chapel Hill’s Southern Village, a broken gas line has forced a postponement of the event. Pending repairs and re-inspection, owner Carolina Escobar now hopes to open the brick-and-mortar location of the popular Captain Poncho’s Tacos food truck by early September. The Grand Opening — an all-day celebration with live salsa music — has tentatively been rescheduled for September 10.
If anyone is up to the challenge of navigating bumps in the road, it’s Carolina Escobar. After immigrating from Mexico to southern California in 1986, her first job as a sixteen-year-old was on a taco truck. “I didn’t have any experience, and I had to learn how to cook while the truck was moving, on the road.”
Escobar has since put nearly three decades of experience on the odometer. Captain Poncho’s Tacos, the truck she operates with her husband, Hector, has been on the road since 2009.
The restaurant will feature the same tacos on house-made tortillas (corn or flour, available in several variations from sun-dried tomato to chile) that have earned the food truck a loyal following. The expanded menu will also offer a selection of burritos (including Captain Poncho’s prize-winning Nutella burrito and chipotle-sauced Loco burrito), enchiladas, green chilaquiles and more. Homemade horchata will headline a beverage offering that will include a modest selection of wines, bottled beers, and Mexican sodas.
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Once the restaurant is firing on all cylinders, Captain Poncho’s Mexican Grill (708 Market St., Chapel Hill; 919-548-5778; captainponchos.com) will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Follow the food truck location (Hector plans to keep it rolling while Carolina runs the restaurant) on Twitter.
Greg Cox, the longtime N&O restaurant critic, also covers restaurant news. Reach him at email@example.com.