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The #YearOfTheTaco continues

For 2016, we’re celebrating our absolute favourite handheld flavour hit, the humble taco.

The tortillas-stuffed tasty continues a pace this summer, with a brand new selection of tacos inspired by the beaches of Baja joining our main menu, using a blended flour and corn tortilla to hold sweet & smoky ancho chilli marinated chicken thighs, and battered MSC cod.

Baja Tacos

These will soon be joined, from the 18th May, with a taco inspired by a visit to El Parnita in Mexico city earlier this year. The grilled British chorizo and cheese taco with melted sweet red onions is served with an avocado salsa and it’s hitting our street food specials menu soon. If you’re anything like us, you’ll remember the first day you eat this bad boy with the same fondness as your first toasted marshmallow. It’s flipping great.

Grilled chorizo and cheese taco

 

So what are you waiting for? These things aren’t gonna eat themselves. Get yourselves down to your local… Quick!

The Wahaca Southbank Experiment

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The Wahaca Southbank Experiment

We’ve not tried anything like this before. It’s not how restaurants usually get built. But that’s what makes it fun, right?

At the beginning of July, we’re going to be opening a new Wahaca perched next to Southbank Centre alongside Waterloo Bridge. This isn’t the kind of opportunity that comes up every day and we wanted to make sure we do this iconic site justice. So this won’t be like a Wahaca restaurant you’ve seen before.

To start, we’re not building it from bricks and mortar. Wahaca Southbank will be built from 8 recycled shipping containers, which our architects have designed to fit together on 2 storeys with a cantilevered hanging bar space allowing for 130 hungry people.

Our 8 shipping containers have been modified to create a series of interlinked open spaces and include panoramic windows offering some pretty stunning views of the river and the passing parade of people, boats, royalty etc.

Keeping it fresh. A work in progress

Wahaca Southbank will be a chance for you to try out some new dishes. Tommi has already been up to her elbows in new recipes specifically for this site following our recent trip to Mexico and LA, and she will also be joined by guest chefs, invited to help develop other new dishes for the Southbank menu. We’re thinking of this as a development kitchen. The dishes that you tell us you like the most will be added to our menu in our other restaurants. We like to think it’ll help us to keep things fresh.

We’ve also got a bit more experimental with our decoration. We’ve been working with Tristan Manco, general worldwide authority on all things street art, who’s hooked us up with some amazing artists who will be flying in from Mexico City and around the world to graffiti the space, creating an evolving work of art that will be updated as the mood takes us and the seasons change.

What we’ll look like. With a few sketches by graffiti artist Saner.

One thing we always like to know when opening a restaurant is how long it’ll be around for. But that’s also a little up in the air. You see, Southbank Centre have invited us to join them as part of this summer’s Festival of the World, a 3 month-long celebration of art instillations and events. They’ve said we can stay for as long as it takes them to decide what to do with the space next, which could be 18 months, or it could be longer. But that’s the clever bit you see. When we do move on, we just pick these shipping containers up, and set them up somewhere else. The Wahaca experiment will move on, opening up for new people, introducing new art and design and new dishes to a new community. So please come and get involved with our experiment. We hope you’ll like the results.

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Can you help us find our Mayor?

Those of you who are in the know about foursquare, will probably understand what we mean with this post. For those of you who aren’t, please don’t think we’re desperately trying to hunt down Borris and invite him for a taco (although if you’re out there Borris, we’d love to talk to you about introducing Mexican style VW’s to our taxi ranks).

Foursquare is a great site that helps you to find new ways to explore your city by checking in on-line when you visit restaurants and bars, and linking up with friends to discover their favourite places to go out. It’s also a great way to pick up tips that only people in the know would be able to tell you – Apparently our “Frijoles are off the chain” according to James M (thanks,we agree), and One Tamarind Margarita isn’t enough for Fergus M!

Now, we’re pretty new to this site, and are hoping for your help in tracking down the Mayor of each of our restaurants (These are the guys who have checked in the most times, and basically love us so much they can’t stop coming back). We know who they are, but can’t seem to contact them.

Can you help? Do you know these Wahaca super fans? If you do, we’d love you to send us a tweet @wahaca, or post a comment below and tell us, so we can get their details from you.

Do you know these men?

Nick H
Richard S (Although this may not be a true likeness)
David G

So… Nick H (Mayor of Wahaca Covent Garden), Richard S (Mayor off Wahaca Canary Wharf) and David G (Mayor of Wahaca Westfield) Come on down! We’d like to invite you to a very special dinner tasting our new summer menu.

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Qype Autumn Menu Tasting

We invited Qype’s top reviewers to sample our new menu that we’ve put together for the cold months and this is what they thought, in bite sized chunks:

SMOKED HERRING TOSTADAS by Alex Sheppard

Herring Tostada

Photo by @kelsiemortimer on Flickr

The smoked herring tostada is something that I’d probably never have tried – I wouldn’t have thought fish and tacos would work well together. But I’m glad I did as it will be the main (but certainly not only) reason why I’ll be coming back to Wahaca. Not only is the fish MSC-certified and sourced from Hastings, they were delicious. The smokeyflavour stayed in the mouth long after they’d been eaten, but it wasn’t too overpowering. For me, they were the highlight of the evening.

PORK PIBIL TACOS by Almost Witty (Andrew Wong)

Pork Pibil Tacos

The pork pibils – from memory I think that was Johnny Depp’s dish of choice in Once Upon A Time In Mexico – and definitely the best. They dripped off the tongue as they should.

MUSHROOM AND HUITLACOCHE QUESADILLAS by Kate Matlock

Quesadilla with Huitlacoche and Mushrooms

The quesadillas…oh good golly… the crazy mushroom quesadilla that was creamy and gooey and unpronounceable. It’s a fungus (called huitlacoche) that grows on corn. Seriously. Can I just say it’s the best damn fungus I’ve ever tried because I will be back for more.

BLACK BEAN SOUP by Qyper ‘ShakinSwedens’

Black Bean Soup

The black bean soup which was so full of surprises it almost deserves a review of it’s own. The bowl was filled with goodies like avocado and roasted chillies and then the black bean soup poured over by the waiter. Each mouthful was different with a burst of fresh coriander in one or the piquant chilli in another.

MOLE ENCHILADA
by Jenny from The Red Mangetout

Mole Enchilada

Photo by @tikichris for Qype on Flickr

The mole enchiladas initially looked like more black bean soup, except this time it was topped with crema and rice. Digging in, it became apparent that underneath the sauce lay an enchilada stuffed with tender chicken and vegetables. The mole sauce was rich and spicy, with a good hint of chocolate. This was one of the stand out dishes for me, and a good introduction to Mexican flavours, without being too scary for the British palate. My only regret was that by this point I was getting too full to manage more than a mouthful!

FISH A LA VERACRUZANA
by Su-Lin from Tamarind and Thyme

 Fish a la Veracruzana

Photo by @Kelsiemortimer on Flickr

The Fish a la Veracruzana was a large piece of pollack with tomatoes, olives and capers, all baked in a foil parcel. The perfectly cooked fish broke off easily into large moist flakes at the touch of a fork and its lightness was complemented perfectly by the freshness from the tomatoes. However, as well as rice, this was accompanied by a salad whose toppings I found a little too punchy and acidic for the delicate fish.

SEASONAL VEGETABLE BURRITO
by Simon Doggett

Mixed Vegetable Burrito

Photo by Su-Lin on Flickr

The burrito caused a bit of a stir round the room with one particular controversial ingredient. The cabbage. Now, it’s a veggie burrito. Of course we expected veggies. But cabbage? Turns out this has been a bit of a talking point over the years between owners, chefs and us lot – it’s prevalent in a certain area of Mexico, but we really weren’t sure. Then again, those of them on the other side of the table were excited about something a bit different. I guess we’re waiting to see if it actually makes a reappearance! Before the tasting I was pretty clueless about ‘proper’ Mexican street food, and nine times out of ten would have plumped for the burrito option. But now, ya know, having been presented with the excitement beyond burritos, I’m not so sure about that.

WINTER BUERZA SALAD by Jess

Salad

Photo by @kelsiemortimer on Flickr

So perhaps I wouldn’t have normally ordered a dish like this at Wahaca. Firstly, it’s a salad, and secondly, it’s chocka with what might appear menu-wise to be too many ingredients, ending up as one confused salad amongst loads of hearty Mexicana goodness. But oh, what a revelation to have been fed this little beauty! It’s bursting with surprises – from the delicately deep fried anchochilli pieces giving the crunch to the fresh orange and pickled hibiscus over the feta and butternut squash, right down to the spelt hiding underneath it all.

BAJA CALIFORNIA TACOS by Mel fromTravels with My Fork

The absolute hit of the evening was next: a classic Baja-California Fish Taco – crispy fried fish with just the right kick of chipotle mayonaise served in a soft taco. I could have eaten a whole tray of these alone and am now contemplating throwing a fish taco party in the near future. High marks for this one.

CHURROS Y CHOCOLATE
by Gail

Churros and Chocolate

When we reached the meal’s finale, a platter of golden churros arrived on the table – infuriatingly out of reach, initially. Once the people at the other end of the table realised that our conversation had died and we were all staring at them with intent – ok, at the churros – they surrendered them to us. Almost without a fight. Beautifully light cinnamon-dusted horseshoes of crisp batter, with a dribbly dark chocolate sauce – they were never going to last long. They’re better than any others I’ve tried, probably because they were obviously fresh and quickly fried. The perfect sharing dish for the end of the evening – as long as you get in fast, they won’t last long.

TEQUILA by Epicurienne

Tequila

Photo by @kelsiemortimer on Flickr

Under Mark’s guidance, we tasted three tequilas from the Wahaca stable: a Blanco (white), served cold, a Reposado (rested) served at room temperature and an Añejo (aged), also served at room temperature, with a lovely, caramelly tang. As many will confide, I, too, have had the occasional clash with tequila, but the selection we enjoyed last night was an utterly different sensory experience to student union layback sessions in a vintage dentist’s chair. This was refined, smooth, flavoursome liquid, to be sipped and savoured, not consumed in one swallow. This was tequila for grown ups and it was better than good.

And… the last word from Qype Guru Tikichris who helped to set this all up

By inviting us twenty or so lucky Qypers along last Thursday for a sample of their new “cold months” menu at their stylish Westfield location, the good folks behind sensational Mexican street food restaurant Wahaca succeeded not only in delighting our appreciative taste buds and filling our bellies with more than ample amounts of their flavourful Latin dishes but in raising the bar for future Qype events as well. Really, I can’t even remember the last time I saw so much food laid out in front of me. That so much of it was incredibly delicious left me a bit dumbfounded (or was that the cumulative effect of all that lovely, free flowing Tequila Corralejo?)

Thank you Qype for making the evening so much fun, for providing so much valuable feedback and for all your kind words. And thanks for your great reviews which you can read in more depth here:

Tamarind and Thyme
Ravenous Libby
Epicurienne
Travels with My Fork
Qype Blog

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Spelt, a new addition to Wahaca's winter menu

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Next week, as of 5th October, we will be introducing our winter menu with some exciting new additions to it. One of these new additions that we are really excited about is Spelt.

Spelt is an ancient grain which can be traced back 7000 years. A relative of wheat, it is higher in protein and was one of the first grains used to bake bread. Not unlike barley in texture, it is reputed to be helpful for those with wheat intolerances and IBS.

Wahaca is going to be using this organic british grown spelt from Sharpham Park which is grown and milled in small batches in the west country and is certified by the soil association. With it’s firm texture and nutty flavour, it makes a great addition to our salads.

We’ll be steaming ours with a little  bit of vegetable stock and seasoning, and serving it up in our salads. 

Please let us know what you think!

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Trying some new Mezcal…

mezcals

Just been with our Mezcal supplier trying some new mezcals… this brand was particularly delicious.  Really rich smokey reposado and a slightly salty, smooth blanco but with quite a punch as well.  Thinking of bringing them on the menu soon… not easily available in the UK though. Any other suggestions gratefully received!

For more info on our existing Mezcals have a look at our in house newspaper which you can download from here (See page 2 and a piece on Mezcal in general onpages 3-4. Or pick up next time you are in a Wahaca)

It’s glorious stuff but not for the gentler pallet.