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Most Londoners with a penchant for a piping hot burrito and salty rimmed margaritas know about Cafe Pacifico. Located off the Long Acre Covent Garden strip on Langley Street, the intoxicating smell of slow-cooked meats and the sound of the cocktail shaker is enough to lure shoppers, city workers, and theatre-goers away from their plans to visit one of The Yard’s oldest and most legendary restaurants. 

It’s rare for restaurants in London to stay in one location for such a long stint, but founder, the late Tomas Estes and his special brand of Californian Mexican food have been serving tacos since 1982 – before it was even a trend to eat Mexican street food. That’s 40 years of award-winning margarita cocktails alongside lashings of ancho chilli and guac’. We know the food is iconic – we’ve tried it – but Pacifico is so much more than a vibrant cantina. It’s an institution where the clientele range from hungry city slickers, rock stars, like Freddie Mercury, to thespians and world-famous authors all hungry for a taste of Pacifico’s Mexican cuisine. 

We chat with Pacifico family member and co-owner Carlos Londono to learn about the culture and the people behind this legendary London cantina.

First, a little history, tell us about the origins of Cafe Pacifico
“Our founder, Tomas Estes, was a Californian who fell in love with Mexican culture and food as a kid thanks to his Mexican neighbours. Later on in life, he also fell in love with Mexican drinks and gained the role of European Ambassador of Tequila from President of the CNIT (Mexican National Chamber for the Tequila Industry) and started his brand: Tequila Ocho. 

He arrived in Europe in the late 70s and was a free thinker and a hippie at heart. He travelled to Holland to set up the first Cafe Pacifico in 1978, then came to London in 1982 to set up the restaurant on Langley Street.” 

Being based in such a crucial area for showbiz, you must have some cool stories from the last 40 years…
“The one that tops it was Freddie Mercury. He came with Kenny Everitt and Cleo Rocas. We gave him a Cafe Pacifico t-shirt and he wore it on tour in Europe and during TV interviews. That’s our most rock and roll moment.”


You have a fusion of dishes of both regional and Californian-inspired Mexican dishes on your menu, tell us what inspires them?
“Tomas brought in a lot of the Californian or Tex-Mex dishes (fajitas, burritos) plus traditional Mexican inspired by our former head chef. He used to travel to Mexico three times a year to different regions bringing back traditional dishes like chocolate mole sauce… Nowadays, we have a fusion of these regional legacy dishes, like enfrijoladas, on the menu plus modern Mexicana and we cater for vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free”.

What’s the one thing we should eat at Cafe Pacifico?
Enfrijoladas. It works for vegans, vegetarians and meat-eaters. It’s corn tortillas that look like enchiladas covered with a slow-cooked black bean dish with chillies and herbs. Choose to top it with vegetables, chicken, beef or pork plus lettuce, tomatoes, pomegranate seeds, and cheese if you’re eating dairy.”

And to drink?
A classic margarita or our award-winning Margarita Rumble made with passion fruit, vanilla and chilli and 100% Agave Blanco Tequila.”

How will you guys celebrate turning 40?
We’re going to have 40 celebrations! We’re having one party a month till November. For four weeks, starting Feb 22nd, between 4-6:30 pm you can buy a margarita for the 1982 cost. So it will be £4.50 instead of £8.50. We’ll also be giving away lots of mind-blowing prizes and paying for many people’s bills to thank them for their continuous support.” 

Stop by Cafe Pacifico soon for a margarita and a guaranteed fiesta!

Make sure to follow The Yards Covent Garden on Instagram to be inspired by the vibrant culture and join us on our journey of discovery by using the hashtag #AroundTheWorldIn80Steps. 

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