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Restaurant Review: Wahaca

posted by on 07/08/2010

Last year for me in terms of food was all about Sushi. That was after overcoming my narrow-minded attitude towards eating raw fish. This year however it’s the year of the Mexican food and I think we have found London‘s finest spot for Mexican delicacies. Wahaca specialises in Mexican market food such as tacos, tostadas, quesadillas & taquitos, with platos fuertes covering enchiladas, grills and last but no means least, burritos. Continues after the cut.

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The Background

Wahaca are trying to bring the soul of Mexico to the heart of our city with their food. They have branded themselves as Mexican market food and I’ll be damned if markets in Mexico (pronounce it like me, Me-hi-co) look this good then I’m moving there. Like in a Market, you don’t need a booking before you arrive at the restaurant. As diners are given spaces as soon as they become available and luckily for us, we managed to get there before the post-work diners arrived.

The Atmosphere & Design

I actually randomly found the restaurant last week when I met up with DJB and after my first experience here, I just knew I had to comeback and cover it. for Y&Y. What caught my attention first was the design, both the exterior and interior. As a designer, I appreciate when a company uses the right typography and Wahaca have managed to do just that. The stylish interior is warm, colourful and funky and to create the atmosphere of a market – they have used a lot of timber around the place to get that raw natural effect of a Mexican street market. There are various other aspects of the design that also reflect a market such as the stall canopies above the table, chain-link curtains and concrete benches (with cushions here of course).

From what I saw the people the restaurant attracted was quite eclectic, from the Canary Wharf businessmen to tourists and even families of four. Therefore the atmosphere was quite unpretentious, relaxed and somewhat vibrant. It’s perfect for a date, definitely going back there with a lady friend who’s appreciative of my messy Mexican eating skills.

The Service

As soon as we sat down, a friendly Spanish waiter came over, introduce himself (I don’t remember his name), explained to us what was on the menu. before taking our drinks order. Let’s call him Manuél in this review, he was rather friendly, funny and helpful. He told us to enjoy our final year of student life as the real world sucks, too many bills to worry about. He was helpful through out, not too attentive and annoying like in some places. I was impressed by the quick service of the food considering how busy the  restaurant got. It was almost as fast as a fast food joint but I guess that’s how market stalls are.

The Food

The Starter Snacks

Manuél brought us out nachos with guacamole and salsa sauce as he was introducing us to the menu. I can’t say I’m a big fan of nachos but these were crunchy and crispy compared to some of the others I’ve had in the past. It was my first time trying guacamole and my god it was delicious, I’m sure it was me that ate half that tub. I definitely need to get the recipe for that, obviously so that my future wife can make it.

The Mains

There were so many things to chose from the menu, just take a glance at this photo and you’ll understand. I knew what I wanted as I had it last week – free range chicken burrito. It’s made up of a tortillas wrapped around succulent and tender chicken, chipotle, onions, black beans, green rice, crema and totopos. For those uneducated in Mexican food like me, will have trouble pronouncing a lot of the items on the menu. I honestly pronounced chipotle the way it’s written until Yang corrected me and I also didn’t have an idea of what it was till I read upon wikipedia earlier.

Back to the burrito, it’s definitely the best I ever had. I’ve had a fair few in the past 3 months and this is without a doubt my favourite – it’s surprisingly filling with lots and lots of chicken (those that know me know that I love chicken) and it wasn’t messy at all. It’s so well wrapped that I’m sure I never spilt any of the salsa sauce, yes you read that right – I ate with my hands. Please don’t expect me to eat a burrito using a knife and fork! My favourite part of the burrito was the crema, I don’t quite now how to describe it’s taste but it just made me want more of it. Next time, I’m going to ask for more of it in mine.

Grilled British Steak Tacos – £4.10

Chipotle Chicken Quesadillas – £3.85

The others also loved their food (pictured above), I would have definitely ordered more if the burrito wasn’t so filling. All the food is extremely reasonably priced compared to other restaurants of similar quality, I’d fully recommend this place to all of you. If you haven’t tried Mexican food before, Wahaca is the place to go in London.

The Cocktail & Mezcal Bar

What makes the Canary Wharf restaurant different to the others is the Cocktail & Mezcal bar. Here’s some information on what a Mezcal is:

Heralded as the “elixir of the Gods” Mezcal is the best kept secret to be smuggled out of the Americas in the last 20 years.  Mezcal comes from the maguey or agave plant which is grown mainly in Oaxaca.  There is a saying in Oaxaca “para todo mal, mezcal…y para todo bien tambien” (for everything bad there is Mezcal…and also for everything good).  Mezcal has a wonderful smoky/ peaty texture to rival the best Scottish Malts. The flavour comes from the agave plant being baked in huge pits in the ground.  The plants are then crushed to extract their rich, sugary juices.  Tequila is a form of Mezcal and comes from the Blue Agave plant (there are hundreds of different varieties of Agave plant) and has a smoother, less smoky taste.

The bar serves a list of delicious Wahaca cocktails as well as our favourite Mezcals & Tequila, Mexican beers, wines with refreshing Aqua Frescas and snacks such as our Tortilla chips with freshly made Guacamole. It’s a nice location for a quiet little drink with a few friends/female friend. Ya’ll must be bored of all this writing by now so I’ll leave you with a few more photos of the restaurant.

P.S. They have a Foosball table. How dope is that?!

Wahaca (Canary Wharf) on Urbanspoon

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