Wahaca is MasterChef winner Thomasina Miers' empire of Mexican eating in London. I've been (quite a lot) with friends and we always always have a great time. It's really one of my favourite chain restaurants in the city. The food's always presented beautifully and served with amazingly fresh ingredients, the service domestically comforting, the mojitos fantastically out of this world.
The only thing I do not like about Wahaca (particularly the Covent Garden branch) is the looooong, looooong, looooong wait before you get seated during dinner (lunchtime's relatively okay). They do not take reservations so you have to be there quite early if you want to eat on time. The shortest wait I've had was 45 mins on a Saturday night. The longest time we had to wait for a table was a staggering two hours – on a Thursday night. We arrived at 7pm and were told that we had to wait for 1 hr 45 mins for a table for four. Bummer, although truthfully, we really didn't mind at all. There were a lot of watering holes close by so we were amused. When we got back 1 hr 45 mins later we had to wait some more but we were finally given one of those hand-held gadgets (that blink when your table's ready). We didn't feel super bored: we had plenty of time to have the cocktails rolling and figure out what we wanted to have. This really suited us because we were a bunch who really liked our food and since Wahaca has an extensive menu, we were really spoilt for choice so we needed the extra time to decide.
When we got to our table, they gave us free nibbles (nachos w/ yummy guacamole & salsa) whilst we ordered because of our 'patience'. On a regular night out I'd usually get two street food plates (£3-5 each) and that's plenty to keep one full if you get, say, a plate of quesadillas and a plate of tostadas. However as it was past 9pm and we were only running on alcohol and caffeine, we decided to get one plate of street food to start and one platos fuertes (big plates from £7-14) to finish. I decided on the Huitlacoche and feta taquitos (Mexican corn mushroom, British field mushrooms and feta cheese wrapped in fried tortilla) and *gasp* the new Baja-California fish tacos.
Food arrived decently early (no pun intended) and we were munching away. My mushroom taquitos were yummy, but its quesadilla version (which my friend ordered) was even better. Our table was also filled with the following: British/Mexican steak (succulently tender), classic enchilada (how enchiladas should be!), veggie burrito (massive!), chicken quesadillas (my lunchtime favourite), black bean & cheese quesadillas (easy to make!) and steak tacos (amazing).
Everyone seemed to enjoy their meal, but I don't think anybody enjoyed their grub as much as I enjoyed my fish tacos. They placed my food in front of me and everyone looked pretty impressed. Proper surf shack food, dude. Each bite reminded me so much of being on the beach and munching away after a good board run. I was scared my breaded plaice goujons would be greasy but I was pleasantly surprised - for once, deep fried breaded fish actually tasted of fresh fish and not some oilspill victim. The goujons were enveloped in soft tacos and blanketed in fresh juicy tomatoes. They got slightly soggy a bit later but that's because I took a long break before finishing the rest of the dish. The portions were massive and to be honest, there sides (spicy red cabbage slaw and the black rice) were quite irrelevant. Really. Those fish tacos are the best I've had so far - and believe you me I'd probably wait an extra hour half-hour to be seated if only for that. Definitely worth the wait.
We were absolutely stuffed afterwards but we just couldn't take a pass on the churros (£3). Mmmm. Besides, we've waited over two hours to have a decent meal so we figured dessert was a must. Served hot and worth the calories. I promise. The only problem is that there wasn't much of it. Boo.
We paid about £30 each for our starters, mains, shared desserts and cocktails/vino. Not bad. I suppose at Wahaca, you do learn that patience is a virtue and that patience might just equal value. =)
Wahaca: 66 Chandos Place Covent Garden London WC2N 4HG