How we built the Wahaca Southbank Experiment

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How we built the Wahaca Southbank Experiment

It’s not every day that you get to stack up 8 recycled shipping containers on London’s Southbank and put a restaurant inside them, so we thought we’d make a short film about how we did it and the artists that decorated the space for us. We hope you like it.

Directed, filmed, and edited by Michael Radford www.michaelradford.co.uk
Additional photography by Oliver Radford. Special thanks to Tristan Manco.

Going experimental down on The Southbank

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Going experimental down on The Southbank

The Wahaca Southbank Experiment is our new temporary restaurant, opening at Southbank Centre alongside Waterloo Bridge today. It’s not like a Wahaca restaurant that you may have seen before, we’ve challenged ourselves to be more innovative. It’s built from 8 recycled shipping containers and we’ve introduced a new menu with monthly changing specials, the most popular of which will take up residency in all of our restaurants. We like to think it’ll help to keep us on our toes.

Our 8 shipping containers have been modified to create an interlinked open space on 2 levels to include panoramic windows offering some pretty stunning views of the river and the passing parade of people floating by. If you’re after a cocktail, it also has a dedicated tequila bar serving award winning tequilas and single village mezcals.

We’ve enlisted the help of street art curator Tristan Manco who has invited 2 graffiti artists, Saner and Remed, to decorate the space for our opening, bringing some extra colour to the riverside.

Remed and Saner at work

Tommi has been up to her elbows in new recipes specifically for this site following our recent trip to Mexico and LA. We’re starting off with some punchy chilli tacos, salmon ceviche (a Mexico City fusion favourite) and a couple of different ways of eating beautifully slow cooked carnitas.

The Wahaca Southbank Experiment will be our new development kitchen and because the most popular dishes will be added to our regular menu, you are all our new recipe testers. Welcome to the team. We can’t wait to get the experiment started.

The Wahaca Southbank Experiment is located on the terrace under Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX. It will be open daily for the next 18 months from midday – 11pm (10.30pm on Sundays).

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.