Mar 14, 2012

Wahaca, Canary Wharf, London.

I have a soft spot for Mexican food and restaurants.  The riot of colour in both always brings a smile to my face.  Before my trip to London, Kate B sent me very detailed email outlining her favourite London haunts and Wahaca was on the list.  I found the Soho outlet on my first evening in London but when I returned with Mr SSG a few nights later, the place was full to overflowing with a 45 minute wait for a table.  I reluctantly left, feeling that my last chance to dine in the colourful cantina atmosphere had slipped me by.

As luck would have it, a few days later, we found Wahaca Canary Wharf and on a relatively quiet night (there is a no bookings policy) and got a table very quickly.

Wahaca is all about fast and fresh food at fair prices, served in a bright and breezy atmosphere.  I did a double take when I realized the mural I was sitting next too was in fact made entirely of glass beads.  It twinkled prettily, catching the light, all evening.

The menu is divided into nibblies, small tapas style share plates and main meals.  There is also the option of takeaway.  Though the service is fast, dining here didn't feel like being in a fast food restaurant.  The lively atmosphere and the range of food options means that you can stay as long as you like - sinking a beer or two in the process (there are 4 Mexican beers available) or downing tequila (of which there is a whole library).

At the table, are your choice of 'A Dash of Wahaca'.  A hot chilli sauce and a sweeter but still fiery habanero sauce.  I doused practically everything that night in habanero.....

See what I mean about relaxed?  That's my glass of white.  Even Mr SSG mistook it for a glass of water...

The kitchen and bar area are to the back of the restaurant and the takeaway counter can also be found in the vicinity.  The floor was well staffed and we never had to wait too long for anything, despite things getting busier as the night progressed.  I've realised that Londoners like having dinner later than in Sydney.  The whole day seems in reverse actually, the gyms are packed late in the afternoon rather than first thing and the morning commute never seemed as crazy as it is in Sydney.  The one constant is the late afternoon crush at the supermarket check out.  I would notice that.

Mr SSG and I decided to explore the street food menu.  Having made such a big decision, there wasn't any energy left to make any more specific choices so we decided to go with the Wahaca selection (19.95 GBP) a range of the restaurant's most popular plates.

Huitalocke Quesadilla

The first dish to arrive was the huitlacoche quesadilla which had a filling of two kinds of sauteed mushroom and cheese.  Mexican food has an undeserved reputation of being stodgy and greasy in Australia but thankfully many of the new places are doing all they can to dispel this prejudice.  Wahaca is doing the same in the UK.  The quesadilla was crisp with just enough cheese for taste, not grease.

Green Rice and Black Beans

The green rice and black beans came out next.  This was meant to be eaten with our chicken taquitoes but we were impatient and ate ours with the quesadilla.

The dish I was most excited about was the pork pibil tacos.  The pork is slow cooked in a Yucatecan marinade and was tender, lean and very tasty.  Unfortunately, there were only 3 to the serve so some wheeling and dealing occurred to decide who should get the last one (me).

Pork Pibil Tacos

Another stand out dish for me were the black bean tostadas.

Black Bean Tostadas

They were garnished with an avocado salsa, a tomato salsa and finished with Lancashire cheese.  They were bursting with freshness and crunch and I could have eaten several servings more right there and then.

Chicken Taquitoes

Next up were the chicken taquitoes (which we should have eaten with the green rice).  No harm done eating them on their own.

Winter Vegetable Tacos

The final plate in the selection were the winter vegetable tacos.  Again, fresh flavours that weren't weighed down with oil or starch.  I enjoyed mine with a splash of habanero sauce.

Dulce De Leche Ice Cream

As a testament to how light the food was, despite all those plates, I still had room for dessert.  The dulce de leche ice cream (3.95 GBP) was the obvious choice.  After all, I hadn't had ice cream during the entire holiday and it was more in keeping with the Mexican them than say plain old vanilla ice cream.  'Salted caramel chocolate with flecks of Valhrona chocolate'?  It was every bit as heavenly as that description hinted at.

A cute touch at the end of the evening was this matchbook of chilli seeds.  Sadly, I had to leave them behind.

But I don't think I would have needed them anyway because the chilli tree back home seems to be the one plant in the back garden that flourished in my absence.

If you do get to London soon, a meal at Wahaca would be an option to consider for fast, fresh and authentic food.  Not only is it a fun night out but the company behind Wahaca invests in a number of community projects and try to run the business within the framework of environmental and social responsibility.  And if you do get there, would you mind getting me a copy of the forthcoming Wahaca cook book?  It is meant to be out very soon.

Wahaca (Canary Wharf) on Urbanspoon


  1. SSG, I'm sitting at the hairdresser with colour on my head, absolutely drooling over this food. Should have had a bigger breakfast... I'm always amazed at how much you manage to pack into your trips! (activities, that is, not food :) ). Hope you're not getting the post-trip blues. My upcoming trip unfortunately only extends to... Rotto. London I wish.

  2. I went to Wahaca when I was in London, but the one near covent garden.
    I love london. I hope the conference was good. The Wahaca might be a good post marathon meal, come to think of it.
    You should try mamasita next time you are in melbs.

  3. Wahaca looks fantastic!  The pork pibil tacos do sound and look good, as does you negotiation skills for the extra one :)

  4. Lorraine @ Not Quite NigellaMarch 14, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    What a fun place to visit! And I always wish they'd offer to upgrade serving sizes for the number of people-in case there's a stand off on who gets the last of anything :P

  5. Der Sidney Shop Girl, 
    thank you, I scribbled that into my little' English -tips'- notebook - your photos look very delicious! 

  6. Your photos really made my mouth water! I love Mexican food:) Seems like you and Mr SSG had a great time! Thanks for sharing:)

  7. Ice-cream mmm, Chicken Taquitoes mmm :)

  8. Oh snaps to you SSG for going to Wahaca. It was Miss B's favourite place to go when she was living in London and she loved the margaritia's plenty!
    I thought the food was excellent and the vibe was great.
    On a cold dreary day in London you couldn't help but be transported to sunny Mexico.
    Look forward to eharing more.
    Ps Did you get a coat from Jaeger?

  9. Love the review and am now desperate for Mexican food :)


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