Claiming to be the UK’s first Mexican restaurant, we head over to Covent Garden to check out Café Pacifico…
Do you remember the very first time you tried Mexican food? I do, I was probably about 14 and it was in my hometown of Kent. Portions were huge, everything was covered in mountains of cheese and I had to be rolled all the way home in a total food coma. The reason I ask is last night’s meal at Café Pacifico took me back to that meal. Perhaps it’s no wonder, as Café Pacifico is allegedly London’s oldest Mexican restaurant! Located in a former banana warehouse, you’ve probably walked past it yourself. Tucked down a little side street in Covent Garden, it’s the buzzy little space next to Pineapple Studios that’s been proudly welcoming punters for years.
Suitable for large groups (they’ll sing you happy birthday!) and families alike, Café Pacifico is a riot of colourful table cloths, kitsch décor and killer margaritas. No seriously – they’ve been awarded ‘Best Margarita in London’ in 2017, 2018 and 2019! Kick things of with any one of these fruity, salt-rimmed beauties – they come with a pipette containing an extra shot of tequila for good measure. Fancy yourself as a tequila connoisseur? These guys have 150 tequilas and 50 mezcals stocked behind the bar and are the only restaurant in the UK with a gold accreditation from the Regulatory Tequila Council for its excellence in Tequila Education to all. Now, THAT is schooling I can get on board with.
Onto the food! You won’t find the trendy teeny weeny, tiny tacos we’ve grown used to seeing on menus of late. Portions here are all very generous, so bear that in mind when ordering. We kicked things off with a platter of their best bits. The Antojitos platter (meaning Mexican street food) comes with 2 chicken quesadilla quarters, a couple of beef empanadas, a tlacoyo topped with shredded chicken, chipotle glazed prawns and little pots of guac, salsa and cream. Phew! A good option if you just don’t know where to start and want a little bit of everything!
The rest of the menu is split into your classic fajita section (with the choice of beef, prawns, chicken or veg), tacos and the Pacifico classics where you’ll find the likes of burritos and chilli con carne. In the interest of trying as much as humanly possible – we opted for another platter. This time it contained a chicken enchilada, a ground beef tostada and a pulled pork taco along with Mexican rice and black beans – not that you’d know it – the whole plate was covered in grated cheese and swirls of dips. We stupidly ordered a side dish of sweet potato fries which whilst totally delicious were totally unnecessary. Taco wise, expect three per portion, but these are 6 inchers and stuffed to the brim. We opted for the tempura seabass and prawn which came with mountains of red cabbage and an addictive smoked chilli mayo.
Obviously you’re not going to have room for dessert – order another margarita instead.