It put Mexico on the London culinary map and carved a name for itself presenting non-stereotypical street recipes: welcome to the world of Tomasina Miers’s Wahaca.
The space doesn't feel cluttered, yet there are so many decorative elements that you will struggle to take it all in. What's more likely is that you will leave mesmerised by the real Mexico, miles away from the boring sombrero hat and colourful poncho combo. Wahaca is a modern Mexican with a distinct street flavour - think spray-painted corrugated metal sheets mixed with car mirrors, striking cardboard and wire lamps, all on a vivid backdrop of turquoise, pink, red and green on walls, with additional brick and tiled floors as contrast.
Despite the large space and plenty of tables, expect Wahaca to fill up with a wide array of people - this enterprise is already very popular and this new Soho location promises to be the most attractive ever. There is a clear buzz, naturally emulating the energetic street feel Wahaca wants to deliver, helped in no small part by the two decorated table football tables.
Start nibbling on their excellent guacamole (£3.50) served with home-cooked tortilla chips, then try some of the street food (£3.60-£5). You can pick between tacos, tostadas, quesadillas or taquitos, with all being pretty darn good. The chicken guajillo have tasty strips of marinated chicken on guacamole with smoky guajillo oil, whilst the seasonal vegetables tacos may not strike you as typical Mexican, but they are nevertheless intense in spices thanks to the chilli salsa.
The street food is served tapas style but there are also larger mains (£6.40-£10) including enchiladas, burritos and grilled dishes. The fish a la pimiento is a grilled mullet with a melting onion, black pepper, fresh lime and pumpkin seed sauce - it shines as exotic and full-bodied. Each dish is served when it is ready, in a pleasingly haphazard street style.
When you have polished it all off, try and fit in a dessert (£3.65-£4.25). Taste the baked cheesecake first, light and just delicious with its hibiscus syrup, then let the mango sorbet refresh you before you leave this sunny haven, the perfect culinary remedy to any winter blues.
For once, the soft drinks (£1.40-£1.55) steal the show, with intriguing options like the excellent hibiscus and horchata concoction. Mexican beers (£3.45-£4) including Pacifico Clara, and Modelo can also be served in a glass with lime juice, salt rim and spice. Wahaca specializes also in 100% pure blue agave tequilas (£3.20-£5.40), also served with orange, grenadine, spice and tomato in another intriguing traditional combination. Tequila cocktails (£6) and a couple of Mezcal shots are available too.
The Last Word
Everything from the décor to the drinks are stimulating, while the food remains comforting and exotic thanks to a knowledgeable medley of spices, making of Wahaca a very worthwhile experience.