Essential London restaurant and taqueria Sonora will close its current home in Netil Market, in a bid to find a larger, more permanent restaurant site.
Co-owners Michelle Salazar de la Rocha and Sam Napier say:
“We decided to move on from the market in search of bigger and better things. We want to take Sonora to the next step, find our place and grow. But in order to do that, we need the time and mind-space to make it happen.”
Time and mind-space have been in short supply for the duo since their initial launch in February 2020 as Pollo Feliz, with pollo asado as its main dish, built on the bedrock of Sonoran flour tortillas fortified with either pork, goose, or vegetable fat.
By September 2020 Pollo Feliz would become Sonora, with a focus on the north Mexico region’s slow-cooked beef staples of barbacoa and carne con chile, and their tortilla packs assumed the status of hyped sneaker drops. Having delivered hand-mixed, hand-rolled, and hand-pressed tortillas across the city in the throes of lockdown, by the end of 2020, after eight months of full trading and two closures, they had made and sold around 32,000 gossamer-thin, translucent tortillas.
Demand then necessitated a dedicated tortilleria production space, and Salazar de la Rocha was able to add a grill in Netil Market to cook carne asada — the Sonoran taco filling. Breakfast taco specials, and with them elongated hours, soon followed. Sonora is, and was, by all measure, a titanic success, and is now one of the city’s most brilliant and most keenly followed restaurants. But with that comes pressure, stress, demands on time, and outside opportunities from keen investors — and that’s before reckoning with what a rammed Netil Market looks like on a hot weekend afternoon.
Ultimately, however, Salazar de la Rocha and Napier are excited for what the future holds:
We’ve spoken to a few of you about our dreams of opening a proper place, so we’re working on getting that. This has been a literal life-changing experience. We never expected to end up here and to love it so much. We’re incredibly grateful for every single person that has come to try our food, ordered our tortillas, helped us out in any way and for all the friends and peers we’ve met thru this business. So so cool. Thank you.
More soon on Sonora’s future.