Wahaca is a Mexican market restaurant situated in Chandos Place, London. As you walk down the modern industrial staircase into the underground restaurant, your senses are immediately set on fire with the fusion of bold flashes of colour, street art, foliage, steel, concrete and wood. The air is alive with the delicious aroma of spicy Mexican food, low lighting and people all seated alongside one another, sharing drinks, laughing and eating with their hands. The atmosphere is electric, and it’s a feast for the senses in every way possible.
We came on a Sunday evening for dinner and a waiter greeted us at the foyer before showing us to a table at the far end of the restaurant. The restaurant was near enough full, everyone was seated on chairs and benches alongside other diners, with row upon row of tables snaking around corners under industrial lights and into recesses. It had a very urban chic feel with a laid back and relaxed vibe that was just perfect for a chilled Sunday evening. For starters we shared the £2.95 tomato salsa and tortilla chips from the nibbles menu which were divine. The tortillas were thick, crunchy and contrasted beautifully with the juicy sweet salsa and a slight kick of heat, I washed this down with a bottle of sweet Benson’s apple and rhubarb juice for £3.00.
I asked the waitress which vegetarian dishes she would recommend, and after she circled three from the street food section on my paper menu placemat, within minutes the food came out. Each dish arrives as soon as it’s freshly prepared, without the preference of a starter, side or main; so just as you ooh and ahh over the dish in front of you, something equally as bright, vibrant and delicious gets placed beside it and dish by dish the table is suddenly covered in food.
I had three street food dishes which consisted of tacos, taquitos and quesadillas, and although I never have Maxican food I left each and every plate spotless. The plantain taco’s for £3.95 were made up of sweet crispy plantain, frijoles, crema, feta and hot chipotle adobo, which I scooped up with my hands, folded into a wrap and ate like a sandwich. The plantain was soft, sweet, succulent and crispy on the outside with the smoothest creamy sauce and soft wrap, mixing sweet with savoury, almost like a dinner and dessert all in one. I guess the most similar food I’d ever had in the past was a banana sandwich as a child, only this was far softer, sweeter and incredibly well balanced for taste and texture.
My sweet potato and feta taquitos with shredded lettuce, crema, salsa fresca and chipotle mayo for £3.95 were mouthwatering. The crispy taquito tubes crunched when I bit into them, stuffed with thick sweet potato and beautifully crumbly feta which I dipped in salsa and topped with fresh lettuce. The plate was piled high with cheese and salad, a moreish mixture of hot and cold, soft and crunchy, creamy and spicy. It was an incredibly generous portion which left me feeling content and surprisingly not bloated.
Finally the Huitlacoche mushroom, corn and melted cheese quesadillas for £3.95 were like the Mexican version of a cheese toastie. The sautéed mushrooms were soft and succulent with juicy pieces of corn wrapped in warm gooey cheese encased in a delicious savoury flat bread. I think out of all of the dishes this would be something that I could attempt to recreate at home, I’d never thought of combining sweetcorn, mushrooms and cheese before but it works perfectly. It wasn’t greasy or sloppy, but light, crisp and full of flavour; and after all four dishes I felt stuffed but healthy.
The food was so fresh and light, with a mixture of raw and cooked ingredients, contrast in textures, heat and flavour, and having a choice of so many dishes meant that I could enjoy a little of everything instead of just one heavy main meal. I am now a huge fan of Mexican food and will no doubt be creating my own inspired meals at home. Wahaca is a must for all foodies, vegetarians and meat eaters alike, and they also have a gluten free section and takeaway. The portion sizes are generous, honest and incredibly fresh and uplifting, and the atmosphere of the restaurant is enchanting. As far as dining experiences go, I cannot fault Wahaca in any way, whether it’s for a casual lunch with friends, intimate evening meal or spontaneous weekend nibble there is something for everyone, I can’t wait to go back and work my way through the rest of the menu! A huge thumbs up from this healthy veggie.
Today I stopped by at Wahaca in White City, London Westfield shopping centre for a spot of lunch. After my first experience I had been daydrooling about coming back for more, and it was nice to find another branch locally. The same quirky vibe and decor applied to the White City venue, which is located just outside of Westfield shopping centre amongst a walkway of several restaurants. We were greeted by the friendly staff on a Sunday afternoon, and after being shown to our table I couldn’t wait to have exactly what I loved last time. After browsing the street food menu once again, I decided that although I loved what I had before, in order to experience and enjoy the entire menu available I would choose something I hadn’t had before.
This time I had the tortilla soup for £4.75, which is a spicy tomato soup garnished with diced avocado, feta, totopos and crema, the black beans and cheese quesadillas for £3.70 consisting of black beans, cheddar and mozzarella and the black bean tostadas for £3.80, topped with avocado salsa, crema, Lancashire cheese and fresh tomato salsa. I did however have my apple & rhubarb Benson’s juice for £3.00 again because it tasted so beautiful, fresh and fruity. The food was incredible yet again, a taste and texture sensation that leaves me salivating simply as I recall the dishes. The black bean and cheese quesadillas were incredible, the pungent creaminess of the black beans complimented the gooey, smooth and subtle cheese perfectly with the bread tying it altogether, making the dish satisfyingly savoury. I have never tried a tortilla soup before but thought that it sounded interesting, and just as I suspected, snapped up tortilla chips had been immersed into the soup and were gradually turning from crunchy to soft and supple with every spoonful. The tomato soup was beautifully thick with the brightest orange/red colour and a real kick of heat and spice. The swirl of crema bled into the tomato creating the creamiest, most delicate flavour, which when teamed with slices of soft fruity avocado and crumbly cubes of feta sends the tastebuds into a complete frenzy. Taste, texture, heat and contrast really thrive in this dish and I would love to recreate it at home. Finally the crisp black bean tostadas were piled high with delicious, fresh and fruity flavours; a medley of cold fresh lettuce, juicy sweet tomato salsa, creamy warm black beans, crumbly cheese and smooth crema, with the thick tostada crunching at the foundation of each bite, marrying the flavours together beautifully and leaving me ooh’ing an ahh’ing with each mouthful.
The food was just as fantastic as before, an incredibly fresh and delicious menu of which the same quality and flavour has been consistent throughout. After having my three dishes of street food I was beautifully full, texturely satisfied and feeling healthy and fresh. I am fast becoming a Wahaca devotee and only wish that I discovered this place years ago! Until my next visit I shall try to add some Mexican inspiration to my home cooking.
If you’ve visited a Wahaca restaurant please feel free to leave your thoughts, comments and feedback on your experience below. Are there any dishes you would recommend? What did you enjoy most about your meal and which venues have you been to?