Some good, some not as good as it could be

The last time I went to Wahaca at their Soho branch was in January this year and I enjoyed the dishes I had.

Though I was less impressed with the steak tacos I had, especially as I had really good steak tacos the week before at Charlotte Street.

Though I had completely forgotten about that when I visited the Soho branch for some lunch last month.

The Soho branch I suspect must get busy at lunchtime with tourists, but as I was eating just after the lunchtime rush, the place was quite empty and quiet. I find that each of the Wahaca branches has their own particular style which makes each of them a unique interesting place to eat.

I ordered three dishes, one of which was tacos with chargrilled steak served with grilled cheese & fresh guacamole

Tacos with chargrilled steak served with grilled cheese & fresh guacamole from

There use to be some really nice grilled steak tacos, I had these quite a few times. There were three soft corn tortillas which came with flash-grilled skirt steak with chipotle & tomatillo salsas with optional grilled cheese (I always avoided the cheese).

The new recipe called The Rib Eye, consists of two larger corn tortillas with chargrilled steak and is served with grilled cheese & fresh guacamole.

You do get more steak and it is very tender compared to the skirt steak they use to do, but it is also more expensive, about three pounds more than the old steak tacos price (60% more expensive).

It’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the tacos, I did, but I felt that the original recipe was really good and this wasn’t much of an improvement and certainly not a 60% improvement. I probably wouldn’t order them again.

My second small plate order was something I had ordered before which was buttermilk chicken flour tacos served crispy fried with pink pickled onions & spiced mayo.

Buttermilk chicken flour tacos served crispy fried with pink pickled onions & spiced mayo

This was again two larger flour tortillas with buttermilk friend chicken. I did think the chicken was slightly over-cooked, but it was crispy and the mayo and onions added flavour and texture.

My final small plate order was new on the menu, crab tostada dressed in chipotle mayo, served with pink pickled onions.

Crab Tostada dressed in chipotle mayo, served with pink pickled onions

You got two crispy tortilla with crab. I really enjoyed these, you could certainly taste the crab and it was a fresh tasty dish.

The only thing that let the meal down was the service, it took some time for my order to be taken and I had ordered some tap water with my meal and that was forgotten about, so I had to ask again. The fact that I had been seated around the corner meant that there wasn’t always an opportunity to get the attention of a member of the waiting staff to either place my order or ask for the water.

Overall the food was great and very tasty.

Time for a light lunch

I was checking my e-mail when I got a special offer through from Wahaca offering me one from a choice of street food dishes for just one pound if I bought another. Well it’s been sometime since I visited Wahaca for lunch, so when I was looking for a light lunch I found a branch of Wahaca, I thought well why not. I wasn’t very hungry, so decided to purchase just two dishes, one for full price and one for the offer price of a pound.

What was interesting was that the staff in the branch of Wahaca I was in, didn’t realise that there was an offer sent our by e-mail, and it took the intervention of a manager to sort it out. That is something that does frustrate and annoy me with special offers is when you try and claim the offer, the staff don’t know what to do, or know nothing about it.

So what of the food? For the full price I went with the Chargrilled steak Baja Tacos with avocado & chipotle salsas.

Chargrilled steak Baja Tacos with avocado & chipotle salsas

This was a delicious dish, the steak was chargrilled and sliced, it was still rare. The salsas were tasty, not to spicy and complimented the steak nicely. I could have added grilled cheese for an extra fifty pence, but I am glad I didn’t, because I don’t think it needs it.

For the special offer dish, I went with the Buttermilk chicken Baja Tacos served crispy fried with habanero & white onion relish & spiced mayo.

Buttermilk chicken Baja Tacos served crispy fried with habanero & white onion relish & spiced mayo

These were really nice, the chicken was crispy and hot, the relish was spicy and tasty.

Of the two dishes I preferred the chargrilled steak dish, though both dishes were very tasty. The service was good, the food service was quick and efficient. The experience reminded me how much I enjoyed the Wahaca food. So I might not leave it so long next time.

Time for some more tacos

Another lunch and another visit to Wahaca. This time a return visit to the branch on the South Bank. This was the first Wahaca I visited and it is one of my favourites. I like how the whole place is just made from shipping containers, and the great views across the Thames.

This time I went with three dishes from the street food market (as I normally do).

I do like the grilled steak tacos, I have had these quite a few times now. These tacos come with flash-grilled skirt steak with chipotle & tomatillo salsas.

Grilled British steak Tacos Flash-grilled skirt steak with chipotle & tomatillo salsas #wahaca

These were very nice, most of the steak was tender and tasty, one bit was a bit chewy, but apart from that they were delicious.

For my two other choices I went with new dishes. I do like chicken wings, so was intrigued by the hibiscus glazed wings.

Hibiscus glazed wings Crisp & juicy chicken wings tossed in a sticky hibiscus & pasilla chilli glaze #wahaca

These were described as crisp & juicy chicken wings tossed in a sticky hibiscus & pasilla chilli glaze.

The chicken wings had been cooked in the deep fat fryer and were lightly tossed in the glaze. I had quite a high expectations for this dish, but in the end it was slightly disappointing. The chicken was slightly dry, however the sauce was nice.

My final choice was the Mexico City style salmon sashimi tostadas. Made from sustainably-sourced raw salmon with a squeeze of fresh lime & soy, tobacco onions, chipotle salt, avocado & chipotle mayo.

Mexico City style salmon sashimi. Sustainably-sourced raw salmon with a squeeze of fresh lime & soy, tobacco onions, chipotle salt, avocado & chipotle mayo #wahaca

I really liked these. A nice combination of fresh tasting salmon combined with crunchy corn tortillas and a nice spicy zing.

I have found that I have enjoyed every meal at Wahaca and will most certainly be visiting again.

A little more Mexican street food

Those who read this on a regular basis will know that I have a fondness for the Wahaca restaurants after an introduction to their style of food on the South Bank in London.

Since discovering this delight of Mexican street food and realising they had a branch in Clifton in Bristol, I have been itching to try the food there.

Using a gift voucher I went there for a quick lunch. One of the quirks (or is just a nice feature) of the Wahaca chain is that every restaurant has their own unique style. I think what surprised me most about the Bristol branch was the TARDIS style dimension, it is very much bigger on the inside then it appears on the exterior.

It was quiet early and I think I was the only person the restaurant, which surprised me, I was expecting it to be busier. Certainly I have queued for the South Bank restaurant and down in the heart of Bristol the food places are very busy (even from mid day).

As is my usual lunch, I went for three items from the street food menu. These are small dishes and three is more than ample for lunch (in some cases with the larger ones you could get away with just eating two).

The menu had changed since my last visit with new market treats and of course the regularly changing specials menu.

I was tempted by the new hibiscus glazed wings, alas they must have been popular and were off the menu. Still there were two other things from the new market treats menu that sounded rather nice.

My first choice was the Huitlacoche empanadas. Crispy pastry parcels stuffed with mushrooms, truffley Mexican corn & melted cheese.

Huitlacoche empanadas

These were delicious. The filling though was, as might be expected when using mushrooms was a rather unappetising grey mush. Despite that, I did enjoy the parcels and really liked the presentation. One thing that I have started doing myself which was on this dish was adding thinly sliced radish as a garnish, for crunch and flavour.

My second choice were the crispy prawn tacos. Corn tortillas stuffed with chopped prawn, chillies, spring onion & coriander, cooked until crispy, served with guacamole, tomato salsa & chipotle mayo.

crispy prawn tacos

The tacos had been filled and rolled and deep fried giving them a nice crunch. You could taste the prawn filling and it was still fresh and tasty. The accompaniments of salsa and guacamole worked, but I did feel I had slightly too much chipotle mayo.

For my third choice I went with one of the specials, Beef mole taco, this was unctuous, slow cooked beef shin, cooked in a rich Oaxacan mole. It was served in warm corn tortillas with sweet plantain puree and fiery chile de arbor salsa.

Beef mole taco

You got two beautifully presented open tacos, the beef was rich in flavour, tender and tasty.

Overall three delicious dishes and very tasty.

Another visit….

the view from Waterloo Bridge

Back in London for a meeting and needing a bit for lunch, I did consider where I should go for lunch, and if I should go somewhere new, but did like the idea of Wahaca again. It wasn’t that long since I had been, but I had really enjoyed that meal. So off I went, over Waterloo Bridge to the South Bank to partake in some Mexican street food. So once more I went to the Street Food section of the menu to make some choices.

I hadn’t had quesadillas before so chose one from the menu. These are large toasted tortilla oozing with melting mozzarella, chorizo and potato. This is British chorizo, made to a special recipe, with diced sauteéd potatoes and fresh thyme.

Quesadillas Large toasted tortilla oozing with melting mozzarella and classic Mexican ingredients.  British chorizo, made to our own special recipe, with diced sauteéd potatoes and fresh thyme.

The large tortilla is folded and then cut into two. I did initially think that I had been given the wrong dish, as I didn’t think there was much potato or chorizo in the dish. There was more in the second though. I did enjoy the quesadilla it was nice and spicy.

My other dish was the smoky tomato fideus. These were east coast Mexican angel hair noodles in a chipotle tomato sauce, with sliced fresh avocado, capers & crumbled Lancashire cheese and topped with a touch of hand picked white Devon crab meat.

Smoky tomato fideus East coast Mexican angel hair noodles in a chipotle tomato sauce, with sliced fresh avocado, capers & crumbled Lancashire cheese, topped with a touch of hand picked white Devon crab meat. #wahaca

This was a much larger dish than I thought it was going to be. When Wahaca recommend 2-3 dishes, I usually go with three, but if this is one of them, then I think you can get away with just two, even if you are hungry.

This is very much thin noodles in a tasty spicy tomato sauce. I liked the avocado and cheese. There was a nice topping of crab, which to my surprise was chilled and hadn’t had a chance to warm up. I did like this dish and it was full of flavour, and something I wouldn’t expect in an Mexican eatery.

For my third dish, I did order a dish I had before, and went once more with the tacos, three toasted soft corn tortillas with flash grilled skirt steak with chipotle salsa. They also came with raw diced onion and some guacamole.

Tacos flash grilled skirt steak with chipotle salsa with crisp grilled cheese

These were very generous filled with steak, more than I have had when I had these tacos before. These were delicious, I really enjoyed the chargrilled steak and the different textures and flavours.

The service was excellent, friendly, efficient and lots of smiles.

So what’s close by?

I have really enjoyed my previous visits to Wahaca, visiting central London and looking for somewhere to eat, I did wonder if there was a Wahaca close by, a quick search and 0.2 miles away on Charlotte Street.

This is a very different establishment to the one on the South Bank, more traditional in appearance from the outside. Inside it felt more like the one on the South Bank, the furniture was very similar. The staff were friendly and welcoming. Inside there were the similar tables and chairs, but as the place isn’t made from shipping containers, the walls were brick and the ceilings high.

Looking over the menu, I decided to go with one of the specials as they were different from those at my last visit. There was a choice of two, so I went with the lamb taquito, this was slow-braised lamb shoulder marinated in ancho chilli and orange rolled in a crispy fried tortilla.

slow-braised lamb shoulder marinated in ancho chilli and orange rolled in a crispy fried tortilla

Unlike my previous experience with taquitos, these were very tasty, strong flavours. The fried tortilla was nice and crip and I enjoyed the accompanying slaw.

I also went with the Tostadas, two crispy corn tortillas topped with fresh, light layers of Mexican flavour, served chilled.

Tostadas, two crispy corn tortillas topped with fresh, light layers of Mexican flavour, served chilled.

These were smoky chargrilled chicken, avocado, guacamole, chipotle mayo and fresh slaw. This was delicious and refreshing. A wonderful combination of tastes and textures.

I did also order a dish I had before, and went with the tacos, three toasted soft corn tortillas with flash grilled skirt steak with chipotle salsa.

three toasted soft corn tortillas with flash grilled skirt steak with chipotle salsa

They also came with raw diced onion and some guacamole. As before they were delicious. I was asked if I wanted grilled cheese with them, I said no, but they arrived with the grilled cheese. I felt this added very little to the dish and wasn’t really needed, pleased that I wasn’t charged for this extra.

Another enjoyable visit to Wahaca and some great food.

A little more Mexican market eating

You can tell how much I like somewhere sometimes whether I go again, so just a week after my previous visit, I found myself waiting outside Wahaca for it to open at midday to grab a quick lunch. There was a bit of a queue to get in, but I think that demonstrates how popular the place is to go and eat.

Wahaca, one of a chain of Mexican street food eating places that to be honest I only found out about last week! There are branches across London and England, there is even a branch in Bristol! I went again to the branch on the South Bank. The restaurant is situated on the South Bank next to Waterloo bridge. It is built from eight recycled shipping containers arranged across two overhanging levels, with both inside and outside seating.

The Wahaca Southbank Experiment

These brightly coloured containers make for an interesting eating environment. As with my previous experience the staff were friendly and welcoming.

There is a wide choice of dishes, the menu is split into nibbles, bigger food and street food. The street food menu is a range of smaller dishes. As I had missed breakfast, there was a cancelled train, so I had rushed to catch the earlier one, and was hungrier, so I went with three dishes, whereas in my last visit I had had two dishes.

I really wanted to try something different this time so made sure I didn’t go with the dishes I had before.

Of the three dishes I ordered, the first to arrive was some taquitos. These were two corn tortillas filled, rolled and fried into crispy cigars and served with shredded salads and salsas.

taquitos were filled with crab and shrimp in a gently spiced Veracruzan tomato sauce, topped with habanero slaw and fresh tomato salsa.

These taquitos were filled with crab and shrimp in a gently spiced Veracruzan tomato sauce, topped with habanero slaw and fresh tomato salsa.

I really liked the look of this dish, I thought it was well presented. The habanero slaw and tomato salsa were delicious and very fresh. As for the taquitos I wasn’t as impressed with them as I thought I would be. They were quite spicy and crunchy, but I couldn’t really taste the crab and shrimp. I was hoping that the crunch of the crispy rolled tortilla would be complemented by the fresh taste of seafood, but alas it wasn’t to be. I really did enjoy the slaw and salsa. It was reasonably priced at £4.95.

My next two dishes arrived together. One of these was one I was going to order last time, but in the end chose something different. I went with the tacos, three toasted soft corn tortillas with flash grilled skirt steak with chipotle salsa. They also came with raw diced onion and some guacamole.

three toasted soft corn tortillas with flash grilled skirt steak with chipotle salsa

I really enjoyed this dish, the steak was cooked well and was very tasty. The accompanying salsa and guacamole added a little extra to the dish. Each tacos had two or three pieces of steak. These I thought were also reasonable priced at £4.50 for three.

My final dish was one of the specials, Gringa Taco. Described in the menu as Mexico city’s favourite street food dish. Grilled pork pastor, marinated in achiote and pineapple, served in a floured tortilla with toasted cheese.

Gringa Taco

I did wonder what achiote was and found our later that it is a Yucatecan condiment called recado rojo or “achiote paste”. It is made from ground Bixa orellana seeds combined with other spices. As a result the pork was very red and quite spicy. The floured tortilla was first spread with guacamole and the pork added as a layer to the top of that before a chunk of grilled pineapple topped the dish.

This was quite a spicy dish, but was delicious. The pork was very tender and the guacamole helped offset the heat of the spice. I did think that a spoonful of sour cream would have helped finish the dish, but I am guessing that is more American than Mexican. I did like the grilled pineapple which added a real contrasting sweetness to the spiciness of the dish and was fresh and tasty. Reasonably priced at £5.15.

The service as before was excellent and I really enjoyed my food and the meal.

Looking forward to next time.