When Pollo Feliz opened in Netil Market at the beginning of 2020, word spread. Specifically, word spread between people who talk about gooey quesadillas and pollo asado as if a goose-fat tortilla and a crispy piece of grilled chicken had been spotted at the top of the Daily Mail sidebar. We, it turns out, are those people.
That was a while ago now. Not that time means much in 2020. But Pollo Feliz - a little hatch best known for its juicy blackened chicken and tortillas with fat in their very fibres - has transformed into a full-blown takeaway-only taqueria. It’s called Sonora, after the northern region of Mexico the chef and owner comes from, it’s only a few hatches up from where Pollo Feliz used to be, and it should be the front runner for George Clarke’s Shed Of The Year 2020.
There are four tacos on the menu at Sonora - barbacoa, carne con chile, pulled beef, and napales - and you’ll be happy with all of them. That said it’s the barbacoa, a short rib and beef cheek mix that stands out. Its beefy juices will happily run down your own cheeks, your t-shirt, anywhere that takes the scenic route to your mouth. The tortillas remain melt-in-your-mouth good and also take on the brave and risky task of safely holding soft beef, chopped onion, coriander, and tatemada, a hot salsa that’s essential.
Another absolute essential is the cheese crust extra. It’s a layer of crisp, salty cheese that’s sizzled onto your tortilla for things like chuck steak and pico de gallo to be piled on top of. It was recommended to us by the Sonora team one wet weekend (which is, incidentally, the only time they’re open). After a bag of Buzz Sweets, it’s the best 50p you can spend in London. In fact, there are only a few Mexican restaurants worthy of spending your money in London, and Sonora Taquería is definitely one of them.
Four tacos, a lot more than four napkins needed. Whether you choose the pulled beef, the napales (cactus leaf), the barbacoa or the carne con chile, you’re in for a juicy experience. All three of the penalty spot-sized beef tacos are full of deep and rich flavour that’s offset by a squeeze of lime and a dollop of avocado and/or tatemada salsa. The richness of the barbacoa reigns supreme, as does the napkin-necessary drippage that comes with it. Though the chuck steak with chile colorado sauce - a deep brown, many chilli-based sauce that’s all flavour rather than fire - is a close second. What isn’t up for debate is the cheese crust. That’s a necessity, not an addition.
If this bean quesadilla lasts more than 30 seconds you’re doing well. The first time we ate it, from Pollo Feliz, it didn’t make it more than two steps out of Netil Market. The combination of Sonora’s superb tacos with an oozing amount of creamy cheese and refried beans is no brainer. And if you’re anything like us, your decision to get one every time you walk past will be too.