Seasonal, sustainable, and all set for the end of summer. Wahaca launches their new menu!
Even if you have not had the pleasure of eating in Wahaca, you would surely have heard of the Mexican Street food behemoth that has taken the country by storm since celebrity chef Thomasina Miers opened her first restaurant back in 2006, just a year after she shot to stardom winning BBC’s Masterchef program. The substantial chain has been one of the biggest successes of the show’s winners and you cannot miss Brighton’s very own Wahaca restaurant, which has been towering over North Street since 2016. I have probably visited six or seven times since it opened and just love their award-winning street food. From delicious tacos to burritos, salads to nachos plus many more Mexican market treats along with a cocktail bar shaking up fresh blends with a modern twist!
Having recently reopened after lockdown, and as we have gotten wind of the launch of their brand new Summer menu featuring vibrant seasonal street food dishes created by Thomasina and her team of chefs, we could not resist popping in to our go to Mexican eatery to see what exciting new delights they have come up with.
Arriving for lunch, we found it comforting to find all the recommended precautions are being adhered to. A pristinely clean waiting area with sanitisers and hand washing facilities has been constructed at the entrance which is big enough to be able to keep your distance from the staff and other customers. The welcoming staff make the extra steps we need to take for our safety no hassle at all. We follow the well-designed one-way system round the restaurant to our table by the huge window looking out on to the bustling North Street, on the way admiring the wall-art designed by local Mexican artist Mazat, loving that such a well-known chain will invest in local creatives.
We immediately warm to Heather, our incredibly friendly and knowledgeable waitress as we get comfortable in our seats and she takes us through the ever-expanding menu, which she proudly announces is now fifty percent vegetarian and, as always, has a huge focus on sustainability, boasting high quality cruelty-free British farmed meat, organic seasonal veg, and strict standards when it comes to fish selection, never endangered or in breeding season.
We order a “trio of salsas” alongside three of the new street food dishes to share, as well as two of the bigger plates and a side of sweet potato “bravas,” and it is not long before the plates start to appear. Everything is cooked to order so courses in the traditional sense does not exist here, everything just turns up as it is ready. The trio of mild tomatillo, medium spiced chipotle, and hot and spicy macha salsas are first to arrive though and heather runs through which is which, so we do not get any unwelcome surprises.
I’ll start with the street food small plates, which were all delightful additions to the menu. The Devon crab and avocado tostadas made the perfect light appetiser. Crunchy tortillas layered with slices of creamy avocado and topped with zesty crab and a punchy chipotle sauce drizzled over the top, which somehow heightened the delicate flavour of the crab without overpowering. A great palette cleansing dish. The crispy three-cheese and serrano chilli croquettes served with an invigorating tomato salsa were lots of fun and bursting with flavour. A crisp shell reveals a decadent gooey cheese centre. great for dunking in the chipotle salsa. My personal favourite of the three was the vegan roast garden vegetable tacos. Combining Lovely bold fresh earthy flavours to create a dish that is very tasty indeed, soft tortillas topped with Riverford organic carrot, caramelised onion, crunchy herb mole and in-house made beetroot crisps. A plate of food that is satisfyingly filling as well as delicious, with the flavours further exaggerated by the spicy macha salsa from the trio that I drizzled all over.
On to the bigger plates. For the first time ever, I pimped up my slow-cooked pork pibil burrito to “ultimate” so it was topped with a rich tomato sauce, melted cheese and fresh guacamole, and it is a decision I will certainly not live to regret. I love Wahaca Burritos, they are stuffed so full of meat, black beans, green rice salsas, and slaw to the point it is a mystery how they are still able to still roll them. They are so unbelievably tasty as they come. The sauce, melty cheese and guacamole really added a whole other level though. Very naughty indeed! My companion plumped for grilled mushroom enchilada, with ancho rubbed mushrooms, melted cheese, green rice and beans. The Ancho chilli rub really brought the flavour of the mushrooms to the forefront making this a spectacularly flavoursome plate of food. Our side of sweet potato bravas were lovely and crisp on the outside and fluffy in the middle, the accompanying serrano aioli and smoky hibiscus dip worked well together in this innovative take on the classic tapa.
After all that I was adamant that there would be absolutely no way we would be able to find room for dessert, however when Heather returned and recommended Wahaca signature churros washed down with a pot of mint tea, we somehow ended up ordering them. I am glad we did as they were a great fun way to finish ourselves off. These were light and crisp. With dark chocolate and sweet caramel sauce for dunking, I can’t see who couldn’t enjoy these. Well worth squeezing them in no matter how full you think you are.
Always impressed by the service and quality of food, as well as their laudable commitment to sustainability, which is why we go back time and time again to Wahaca. The inspired new additions to the menu are a must try, and we will certainly be back for more.