Charlie and I love Mexican food. We could eat it every day, it's so fresh and full of so much flavour. Getting the chance to go to Mexico and taste authentic Mexican food has just made me appreciate the cuisine even more than before! My first memories of what I thought Mexican food was, are nachos, chilli and burritos. It wasn't until I was much older that I realised this was not authentic Mexican food at all but was in fact Tex-Mex. Still really delicious, but not exactly authentic! My first experience of eating at Wahaca was about 5 years ago, and it was my first introduction to real Mexican food. I wasn't vegan at the time, but I wasn't eating any meat or fish. I remember trying their sweet potato and feta taquitos and their plantain tacos and being completely blown away by all these amazing new flavours I'd never tried before. From that very first taco, I've been hooked on Mexican food, and have been enjoying Wahaca's delicious menu ever since.
Wahaca is a UK chain restaurant serving Mexican street food. It was first opened in London in 2007 by Thomasina Miers and Mark Selby. They've always been really focused on creating sustainable food for people from all walks of life and for all ages. It's the kind of place you can go to on a date, for a big family meal, or for your kids birthday party. The whole menu is also really affordable, with their smaller sharing plates starting at only £4.50. You can end up having a meal for 2 for around £24! Bargain!! Since our first trip to Wahaca in London 5 years ago, the company has expanded massively, opening restaurants all across the UK. For this review, however, we headed down to Bristol's Wahaca on The Triangle, which is towards the centre of town.
At Wahaca, each restaurant is individually designed, so you'll never go to one restaurant that looks the same as another. The interiors are all inspired by Mexican street art, using lots of industrial materials, hand-painted murals and bright colours and patterns that are famous in Mexican culture. The Bristol Wahaca commissioned a local artist to paint the murals, which is something that other branches have done too. Although it's a chain restaurant, it still has that local community feeling to it. Whilst we think it's really important to support local independent vegan businesses, we also think it's important to support larger companies who are making an effort to cater to vegans, especially when they have a dedicated vegan menu! In our minds, seeing the number of vegan options increase in chain restaurants can only be a positive thing for veganism.
As with a lot of chain restaurants, quality can differ from branch to branch. However, at Wahaca, we have always felt that the quality of the food has been consistent whenever we've eaten there. The staff and service are also usually pretty good in whichever branch we've been too. Whilst shooting this particular post at the Bristol Wahaca we found all the staff to be super friendly and welcoming, which is again something you don't usually get from larger chain restaurants. We decided to head to Wahaca in Bristol when it opened for lunch at about 12 pm. It meant we could get lots of sneaky photos in of the space before all the people arrived for the lunchtime rush! We did what we always do, and ordered lots of smaller dishes to share. It's always so much better this way than having one big plate of food to yourself!
Wahaca's menu is broken down into Nibbles, Street Food, Salads & Bowls, Bigger Plates, Sides and Desserts. We sampled a few things from each, starting with The Sonora Salad (£8.95). This is filled with a corn & black bean salsa, organic spelt & mixed leaves with avocado in a tortilla bowl. This is one of their larger dishes, which would definitely be enough to fill you up on its own. If you're looking for a lighter meal though, you can have it served without the tortilla bowl, although I personally think this is the best bit! It really is one of the most delicious salads, we even created a recipe inspired by this dish. It's full of all those classic fresh Mexican ingredients and is also bursting with amazing flavours! This is usually our go-to dish. There's another salad bowl on the menu which is vegan-friendly which sounds just as tasty, and slightly cheaper at £7.25
You can't visit Wahaca without trying their street food, it really is the bread and butter of their menu. A lot of the street food dishes can be veganised, which is great news for us! We went for the Plantain tacos (£4.80) which are served with black beans, marinated shredded cabbage and a sweet & spicy chipotle salsa, and the Cactus & courgette tacos (£4.75), which are served with Riverford organic courgette, new potato & sauteed corn. Each plate comes with 3 little tacos each which make them perfect for sharing. Both are absolutely delicious and really take us back to Mexico, where eating cactus is very much the norm! There's one more vegan taco option which is the Grilled sweet ancho rubbed mushroom taco, which sounds like heaven. Anything with ancho chilli in is a winner for us!
To go alongside our yummy salad bowl and tacos, we got a few extra side dishes. We couldn't not get the Sweet Potato (£3.95), which is our number one favourite dish of all time! It's basically just crispy fried chunks of sweet potato, but there's been some special magical ingredient added that just makes it taste incredible. We've tried recreating it at home, but it's never quite the same. The outside of the sweet potato chunks are super crispy and caramelised with the most amazing seasoning and spice mix on top. If you're going to get any dish, it's got to be this one. I know it's only some humble sweet potato, but wait until you've tried it.
The other side dish we went for was a new one for us. It's the Grilled tenderstem broccoli (£3.95), which is tossed in lime juice & ajillo dressing and served with marinated red cabbage. The broccoli was perfectly cooked and came with the most amazing dressing. It was one of the tastiest bits of broccoli I've ever had. We both agreed we could've happily eaten twice as much as we got. We'd definitely recommend you guys tried this dish. It's a real showcase of simple delicious vegetables served in a creative and exciting way.
We didn't go for a dessert this time as we were both absolutely stuffed! We have tried them before though, and they are just as delicious as the main courses. From the vegan menu, you can choose between a raspberry sorbet or the churros with a chocolate dipping sauce.
It's been great to see how somewhere like Wahaca has evolved over the past 5 years, from having no vegan options to a full-blown vegan menu. It's meant that we've been able to continue enjoying their food as our dietary preferences have changed. If you're going to go to a chain restaurant for vegan food, then Wahaca has got to be up there as one of the best ones.
WHO’S IT FOR:
Mon - Sat: 12pm – 11pm
Sun: 12pm - 10.30pm
Locations across UK
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