Judging New Restaurants – Pacifico Cantina

514 8th Street, SE

Pacifico Cantina opened up on Barracks Row back in June 2012. Their Website says:

“Welcome to PACIFICO CANTINA where executive chef Saul Canesa and visiting Texas native chef and Tex-Mex connoisseur Ben Berryhill wish all to know that everything made in our kitchen is handcrafted and made from SCRATCH……PERIOD. No big cans or jugs or anything frozen enters our house. Just the best regional beef, poultry, seafood and produce we can find along with 22 different types of chiles and beautiful Hass avocados to make your guacamole upon request. Our molés and salsas are a labor of love and our Margaritas nice and cold.”

You can see their menu here.

No doubt they have an awesome roof deck but how’s the food?

39 Comment

  • Reminds me of my old college girlfriend. She was gorgeous, but she couldn’t cook worth a damn and could be really, really rude.

  • Beautiful roof deck, but horrible food and service.

  • I’ve liked the food I’ve tried…been there about 3-4 times now, including once for brunch. It’s edgy/slightly innovative, fresh Mexican.

  • Love the deck but the drinks and food are only OK. Their Bloody Maria was like drinking really salty Ocean Water – we actually mentioned something to our server and we were told that that’s what they were supposed to taste like…..

  • Shrimp tacos are great

  • Total crap. Salsa is like spaghetti sauce, guac is tasteless. Everything else is just average. Wont come back unless I am just having a drink.

  • Roof deck is nice, altho it would be nicer without TV’s blaring whatever sporting event is going on.

    Food is horrendous. Even Chipolte is head and shoulders above this place.

  • Been twice. Both times I thought the food was fine, but the service was horrible. The servers weren’t overly interested or motivated in taking our food order, refilling/getting us more drinks, or getting us place settings or extra plates. Last time we went was about 2 months ago, but it doesn’t sound like the service has improved. Not sure I have any interest in going back unless the service picks up.

  • Food was okay, deck was gorgeous but as other said service was bad – even for DC.

    Won’t go back especially when the service and food at El Chucho and El Centro are so much better.

  • Was so hoping this place was going to be great when I first heard it was coming as I eat on 8th St. all the time and Mexican fare is my favorite. Very very disappointed. Food was horriblly bland and boring. No desire to try again…

  • You won’t feel like you wasted your money if you go during happy hour (discounted drinks and half priced food items). But yes, the service and food is mediocre. Great roof though…

  • Total gringo tacos. So many better options in DC than this!

  • I went on opening weekend and tried the fish tacos. I like the ones at Lola’s so was expecting these to be good. They were fine, but way overpriced. The guac had absolutely no salt, just tasted like mashed avocado. I didn’t know you could screw up guac. Service was mediocre.

    Went back on a Friday night for drinks upstairs and service sucked. It wasn’t even that busy, just people at the bar area, pretty much no one at the tables. After sitting for a while and cleaning most of it up ourselves, we had to flag someone down to clean up the mess that was left behind from the people who had been there previously and it was still 15 more minutes before anyone cleaned it off, even though they were cleaning off other tables. I then had to wait forever at the bar because the waiter was too busy flirting with two hoochies to take my order. Also, the music was blaring so loud I thought I was in Adams Morgan not a half-empty, Tex-Mex restaurant on Barracks Row.

  • Their “salsa” tastes like marinara sauce. Seriously, I was with 4 fellow Texans and we all looked at each other in disgust at the first taste! That’s the first time I’ve not seen multiple baskets of chips appear on a table within a meal.

    • I just moved to this area and tried it for the first time. I was expecting really good food, but right when I got the chips and salsa I could tell it was not going to be pretty. If you can’t chips and salsa right, then you definitely can’t get the food right. My meal was not good, nor was my wife’s. I came to the same conclusion as everyone else commenting which his good for drinks, but will not come back for the food. I hope they do something about it, but I doubt they will.

  • Glad to know I’m not the only one.

    I ended up going there for my Birthday when they had just opened. I stopped by a few days before to ask if I could make a reservation for 10 people on the roof deck for that coming Thursday. This is when I learned they don’t take ANY reservations, but she said they’d make a note to expect a party around 7pm that night.

    When I arrived and explained that I had stopped in a few days before and I was told that they couldn’t provide me with a table and that the closest thing they could seat me and my friends at was this awkward bar in the center of the roof deck that would not work if we actually wanted to talk to each other. Then the other hostess recognized me and she said she’d see what she could do. Aka. nothing.

    We ended up staring down one table for 4 and then waited for the one next to us to open up so we could put those tables together to have room for everyone. It was a process and with absolutely no help from the servers or hostesses. AND it was my Birthday!!

    When we finally got to the table it took forever for a server to take even a drink order. Then there is the fact that the drinks and food are wayyyy over priced and not that good.

    As everyone has already said food and service not so good. Only thing good about this place is the roof deck, but even that isn’t nice when its packed and noisy.

    The place gets a D- in my book.

  • I just don’t understand how a supposed Tex-Mex place can screw up salsa and guacamole. They were both absolutely horrible. And they have the nerve to charge for that crap!

  • I echo what others have said about the service. From not getting silverware (after asking 2+ people), to water refills, to taking 20+ min from drink to dinner orders. Brunch is meh – I’d rather go next door to Belga or Matchbox.

    The only thing that keeps me coming back are the Fajitas which have been outstanding each time. The decor is nice and rooftop is a plus for a resturant in Barracks Row area.

  • You know what is sad? This has copious outdoor seating and that alone will keep it open longer than it should be even if service/food is bad. That is the DC way.

  • I judge a Mexican place by its salsa and their salsa is horrible. Amazing space, though.

  • Hmmmmm….the amosphere on roof deck is nice, but everything needs improvement. We ordered a pitcher of margarita which was not cheap and we sent it back. It tasted like watered down juice and was just terrible. The replacement one was not great either, so we just left and went to Las Placitas across the street…..LP margaritas were just perfect!

  • The food is great, especially the quesadillas and especially on the night they are half off. The cocktails (including margaritas) and sangria are very watered down and need a lot of improvement. I have never had bad service there though, it surprises me to read all of the complaints about that.

  • I thought the food was okay (tacos $4/each and burritos $10), service was not great and guac was surprisingly bland. Mojitos were okay but not as great as you would expect at a Mexican themed place.

  • +++ on bad service. not worth it to eat a taco.

  • Been there twice both times sat at the bar good food and service

  • poor food quality and bad service. The place is cool looking with a great roof deck.

  • Not worth the calories

  • The food is REALLY bad, they have the salsa that taste like tomato paste. The only thing good about this place is the deck.

  • We saw four groups of people walk out because of the service! Stuck around because we were curious… food is not that great either.

  • I don’t think the food and service is quite the horror story everyone’s making it out to be. They could use a few dedicated servers working the roofdeck tables, but when you flag down a bartender to place your order they’re friendly and prompt. The first time I ordered food I was with a group of four and we all loved the fish tacos. My girlfriend and I have gone back and gotten them a couple times since– at $8 a person it’s a cheap dinner. I’ll confess I haven’t tried anything else on the menu (except the shrimp tacos which are similar) and their salsa is strange.

  • Yeah, people are being over-the-top. Drinks are pretty good, space is nice, the food is okay. Definitely best for happy hour.

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