Nachos

Nachos

These are a regular dish at home and enjoyed by everyone in the family.

We use the kits from most supermarkets, which contain a bag of tortilla chips, and usually two sachets of salsa.. To this I usually add some grated cheese before heating in the oven for five or six minutes.

I serve them with guacamole and sour cream. Sometimes I will add the fajita mix to mine.

I do now check the ingredient list as, for example, the Asda kit contains gluten as it had Barley Malt Extract used in the salsa..

Time to choose the squash

I wanted those crispy cauliflower bites again, however in the end it wasn’t to be. It was time for a another visit to Wahaca, this time the branch in Fitzrovia which I have been to before and had a lovely meal.

It was early evening and I hadn’t expected the place to be so busy, but it was basically full. The manager though was wonderfully welcoming and made a real effort to find me a table. This level of customer service was excellent and made me feel welcome. The place was really busy and noisy, but that really added to the atmosphere. As with other branches of Wahaca, this one had its own style and decor. It was quite dark in the restaurant, but I am not sure if that was intentional, or that on the occasions I have visited the place it has been in the evenings!

Since that previous visit the menu had changed, as it does quite often. I had intended to have one of the specials that I missed out on my most recent visit to Wahaca which were the grilled fish tacos. Alas that wasn’t meant to be, as they had changed their specials to the Christmas ones, and I didn’t fancy the turkey dinner taquito! I did think about getting those crispy cauliflower bites again, however in the end I decided I should choose something new.

I was quite hungry, so I did order some nachos and guacamole. 

nachos and guacamole

There was a decent portion of guacamole and the nachos were crunchy and not too salty.

So what of my street food choices? Well I went with three dishes and my first choice was the duck croquetas, these are crispy duck & sweet potato balls with smoky hibiscus & chipotle salsa.

duck croquetas, these are crispy duck & sweet potato balls with smoky hibiscus & chipotle salsa

They were a delight, crispy outside and smooth tender inside. Great flavours and the smoky hibiscus & chipotle salsa was delicious and really complemented the croquetas.

On my last visit to this branch I had really enjoyed the butternut squash.

I really enjoyed this dish, was full of flavour and very tasty. I think it could have been improved if the squash had been peeled, but the flesh of the squash did come away from the skin despite this. I really liked the chargrilled aspect of the dish and you could taste that in the squash. This dish is advertised as vegan, and I suspect people might avoid it, but if it comes back onto the menu, go for it, it was delicious.

So when I saw the roasted butternut squash tacos, with a creamy cashew nut and herb mole, citrusy tomatillo salsa and pumpkin seeds, of course I had to choose it.

roasted butternut squash tacos, with a creamy cashew nut and herb mole, citrusy tomatillo salsa and pumpkin seeds

It was a very different dish to what I had before. As you can see it was a couple of tacos filled with chunks of roasted butternut squash. The dish before had been very different.

Chargrilled Crown Prince squash grown by Riverford Organic, served with kale & cashew nut mole

It had consisted of large chunks of chargrilled butternut squash.

However though it wasn’t the same dish, I really enjoyed the new tacos version, it was full of flavour and very tasty.

My third choice was hard, I did consider the mushroom tacos, but in the end I went with 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

They were delicious, great textures and flavours.

The table services was excellent, friendly and efficient. Despite how busy the place was, the food arrived in good time. You can tell how popular this place was, as I left there was a huge queue of people waiting for tables. Will I go again, well I will, if I can get in next time.

Time for Tacos and Cauliflower

I have been a few times now to the Wahaca branch at Soho and have enjoyed my meals there, so with time for lunch, I decided to head there again.

It was just after the lunch time rush, so the place was quiet, but I was given a warm welcome and lead to a table. Each Wahaca I have been to, has a different feel and look and the Soho branch has a unique individual environment. There is a somewhat industrial feel to the place, but it’s warm and friendly, not necessarily cold and inhuman.

I looked over the menu and as it has been some time since I last went to Wahaca, there were some new choices on the street food menu. 
I did think about having my usual grilled steak tacos. Last time I was at the Soho branch they did a new (more expensive) version of the dish with ribeye steak. Back then I said:

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.

The new version is similar to the original version, but you have to have the cheese, unlike the original version where it was an option. However this time I decided that I would have something different and would not go with the steak.

I did think about having the buttermilk chicken tacos again, I have enjoyed them before. However as I was thinking about having the crispy cauliflower bites, I decided that I didn’t want too much crispy stuff, so decided to choose something else. For similar reasons I also decided not to go with the duck croquetas, crispy duck & sweet potato balls with smoky hibiscus & chipotle salsa, which I really liked the sound of. When the waiter came to take my order, he showed me the specials, there were two, the grilled fish tacos looked interesting and tempting.

In the end I went with some beef tacos, grilled chicken tortillas and the crispy cauliflower bites.

The first dish to arrive were some slow-cooked beef tacos with mild spices, with black beans, served in three soft corn grilled tortillas.

slow-cooked beef tacos with mild spices, with black beans, served in three soft corn grilled tortillas

These were excellent, the beef was full of favour, not too spicy. I really enjoyed the addition of the pickled cucumber on top of the tacos. It was a great blend of tastes and textures. They are certainly something I would order again.

The next two dishes arrived at the same time. One of the things you either like about Wahaca or you don’t is that dishes arrived when they are cooked rather than all coming together. This is fine if you are sharing dishes or eating alone, but less great when as a group or a family you have ordered individual dishes.

The first of the pair of dishes was two larger corn tortillas, grilled and filled with grilled chicken and avocado, with ancho rub, guacamole & green tomatillo salsa.

two larger corn tortillas, grilled and filled with grilled chicken and avocado, with ancho rub, guacamole & green tomatillo salsa

These were generously filled and I really enjoyed them. The chicken was sightly over-grilled for my liking, but they were still nice. I liked the avocado and the green tomatillo salsa added some nice spice to the dish.

My final dish was the crispy cauliflower bites, crispy buttermilk-battered florets, with roast serrano allioli.

crispy cauliflower bites, crispy buttermilk-battered florets, with roast serrano allioli

These sounded really interesting and they looked great and tasted even better. I was really pleased to have ordered these. The little florets of cauliflower were covered in a light buttermilk batter, deep fried and were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. When I have tried to cook this kind of dish at home, I find that my batter is too thick. This kind of dish and inspired me to try again with a lighter thinner buttermilk batter. The roast serrano allioli was interesting and really worked well with the cauliflower. I think this was my favourite dish of the trio I ordered and would like to have them again.

The service was excellent, warm and friendly welcome, attentive, efficient service. Overall these were three excellent dishes and I really enjoyed them.

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.

A little Mexican market eating

The Wahaca Southbank Experiment

Walking over the bridge to the South Bank there is Wahaca , one of a chain of Mexican street food eating places that to be honest I had not heard of before. There are branches across London and England, there is even a branch in Bristol!

The restaurant on the South Bank, is built from eight recycled shipping containers arranged across two overhanging levels. These brightly coloured containers make for an interesting eating environment. The team were friendly and welcoming.

The Wahaca Southbank Experiment

We started with some home cooked tortilla chips served with freshly made guacamole. The guacamole is made with lime juice, coriander and ripe Hass avocados. The guacamole was lovely and fresh and I really enjoyed the tasty tortilla chips.

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. I went with two dishes, which was perfect for lunch, but if you were hungry you might want to go with three. There are many different choices, including vegetarian. The street food menu is split across market treats, tacos, tostados, taquitos, quesadillas and baja tacos.

My first choice was from the market treats, the scallop and shrimp ceviche at £6.95. A classic Yucatecan ceviche, with fresh orange and lime cured fish, diced cucumber and fresh summer herbs, served with crisp tostadas. This was a wonderful fresh tasting dish of delicious flavours. I could taste the scallop and shrimp in the dish. The crisp tostadas added texture to the dish.

the scallop and shrimp ceviche

For my second choice I went with the Ancho chicken baja tacos at £4.25. These are two corn and flour tortillas inspired by the beaches of baja filled with grilled chicken thighs marinated with sweet and smoky ancho chilli marinade, topped with habanero mayo and jalapeño-pickled carrots.

Ancho chicken baja tacos

As with my other dish this was beautifully presented and tasted delicious. The grilled chicken was moist and full of flavour, not too spicy. I really enjoyed eating this dish.

The dishes we ordered came in a somewhat haphazard order, but that didn’t distract too much from the overall experience.

There is a technological solution to paying the bill via an app, which I guess is great if it works, but it wasn’t working for us, so we paid in the traditional manner.

I really enjoyed the fresh delicious food from Wahaca and would really like to go again.

Chesters

I do wonder why a Mexican themed restaurant is called Chesters?

Regardless of the name, I went there for lunch today and was quite impressed.

I had the house specialty burrito.

A 10″ flour tortilla, crammed with cheese & onion and your choice of filling, served with salsa, sour cream & guacamole, complemented with a Chesters combi salad.

From the choice of fillings I went for the mexican chicken.

I was expecting it to be very spicy, but it wasn’t, it was spiced, but not so spicy to be uncomfortably spicy – as happens in some Mexican chain places I have been to in the past.

The salsa, sour cream and guacamole were nice as they tasted fresh and most certainly did not taste processed or out of a jar.

I thought the side salad was excellent, which was full of interesting salad type things, including shoots, cabbage, potatoes as well as other delicious stuff.

The coffee I had alongside was very nice too.

Overall I did enjoy my meal and thought it was very good value for lunch. My dining colleague enjoyed his risotto.

I would go there again (and more often) alas it is in Worcester and I don’t go there very often!