Kicking It Cantina-Style

Xavier Cervera’s Pacifico Cantina just opened. (Courtesy Pacifico Cantina)
Xavier Cervera’s Pacifico Cantina just opened. (Courtesy Pacifico Cantina)
Posted June 14, 2012 at 12:01am

Capitol Hill hospitality mogul Xavier Cervera adds another feather to his cap today with the debut of Pacifico Cantina (514 Eighth St. SE), a Mexi-Cali hacienda replete with cool amenities (rooftop deck) and fiery libations (jalapeño-spiked everything).

The layout is reminiscent of many of Cervera’s neighboring properties, a roster that includes Molly Malone’s, Senart’s Oyster & Chop House, Lola’s Barracks Bar & Grill and the Chesapeake Room. The main floor is dominated by a long, central bar, and heavily lacquered woods surround you on all sides.

Pacifico is, however, more brightly decorated than its stodgy siblings, boasting walls aggressively sprinkled with pastel polka dots and dripping with more rainbow coloring than a gay pride banner.

The menu is budget-friendly. The most expensive dishes top out at $18, while most entrees hover in the $10-$12 range.

Signature selections include spiced, buttered and cheesed Mexican street corn, a fried egg-topped Caesar salad, steamed white corn tamales filled with assorted proteins (salsa verde shrimp, red chile-braised bird, pineapple-tomatillo pork), myriad burritos (wild mushroom, mole chicken, pork carnitas, combination) and the “sizzling” fajitas.

Thirsts can be quenched with fruit-spiked mojitos (lemongrass, passion fruit, strawberry), frosty drafts (Pacifico, Modelo, Negra Modelo, Dos Equis Lager, Blue Moon, Miller Lite, Heineken) or canned refreshment (Corona, Corona Light, Modelo Especial, Tecate).

Several custom cocktails seem more likely to light a fire in your belly. The bar list features a handful of beverages boasting hot pepper mix-ins, including the pacifico spice (tequila, cointreau, lime and orange juices all muddled with jalapeños), endless summer (jalapeño-infused tequila anchors this grapefruit-backed effort) and mango spice (mango vodka, mango nectar, lime juice and orange bitters tweaked by more muddled jalapeños and a jalapeño garnish).