STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — About two years ago Yolpaqui Taqueria opened at 1431 Forest Avenue. The name of the place translates from Spanish to “be happy.” And Cristal and Arturo Mejia are just that in their Port Richmond restaurant.
Arturo is particularly delighted with the popularity of Yolpaqui’s burger, chorizo tacos and carne asada. For those respective dishes, he himself grinds the meat, makes the chorizo from scratch and meticulously trims the beef into tidy cubes. So, Arturo is thrilled that customers appreciate his attention to detail.
Known for her smile, Cristal also enjoys the feedback on the taqueria’s various house-made dressings, salsas and beans. The lime vinaigrette is a specialty of the house — hand-squeezed limes blended to creaminess with cilantro and a bit of vegetable oil. Beans are soaked and slow-cooked to tenderness for side dishes in their whole and pureed state.
“We don’t use things from a can,” she said. The food takes time to make, one order at a time, and the freshness is a key to the place’s success so far, Cristal maintains. This is a such an important matter for the Mejias that they only deliver within a two-mile radius of the operation. And they’re firm on that matter.
During COVID-19 quarantines, Yolpaqui stayed open daily. It became overwhelming at one point and the Mejias decided to close on Sundays to give their staff a break. Now Yolpaqui is open Monday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Indoor dining might return in the fall. For now, the business is pickup and local delivery only.
When Yolpaqui first started in 2019, Cristal told the Advance, “In America if you set your mind to something, it can happen.” She and Arturo are proud Staten Island residents for about a twelve years now. Mejia indeed said they are living the American dream and are thankful for their loyal customers.