In a very difficult year for London’s hospitality industry, the emergence of a taqueria in Hackney’s Netil Market — opened a month before the first lockdown — selling exquisite Sonoran cuisine came as much-needed good news.
Still, it hasn’t been an easy ride for Sonora co-founders and partners Michelle Salazar de la Rocha and Sam Napier. With the market and surrounding London Fields a focal point for many East Londoners, the demand for their increasingly-popular tacos has often been overwhelming.
“It was incredibly busy and impossible to handle”, Michelle says. “The entire neighbourhood became this food destination so we could never (and still can’t) meet the demand. We had to keep reminding ourselves that we were in control of how our business would operate and to stop trying to adapt to the crowds.”
As the year progresses, she hopes to be able to return home to Mexico to see her family, whom she hasn’t seen since 2019. Additionally, she hopes for customers to show the same consideration they’ve demonstrated the past year. “Please be patient and respectful to the person behind the till that’s serving you your favourite meal or a nice cup of coffee. They’re doing their best, I promise.”
From Sonora’s first days to being brought to tears by a taste of home, her story of the past 12 months follows.