On a leisurely Tuesday afternoon, I enjoyed a fun lunch with my companion at the recently opened Wahaca in Wimbledon. I’ve always been a huge fan of Thomasina Miers; not only is she a fellow Paulina, having also schooled at St. Pauls’ Girls’ School, but her success following her Master Chef victory has been unparalleled. I’m also a big fan of her column on Saturday’s The Guardian, where she shares her innovative recipes weekly. Thus far, I’ve enjoyed meals at Wahaca’s flagship in Covent Garden, as well as in Soho, One New Change, Upper Street and my personal favourite, the experimental pop-up containers on London’s Southbank. As my companion had recently moved to Wimbledeon, I was eager to visit this branch.
As usual, the service was bright, cheerful and super-quick. Our waitress, Maria, happily described the ethos behind Wahaca – Mexican street food designed for sharing and arriving as and when prepared – before reciting the daily specials. Wahaca’s sustainable philosophy is also admirable. Not only do menus change seasonally, but Mexican produce is sourced direct from cooperatives which support local farming communities. What’s more, the buildings themselves are constructed using environmentally-friendly methods.
The menu consists of nibbles, street-food plates designed for sharing, and platos fuertes, i.e. larger plates that can be enjoyed for one. I was particularly delighted to discover that one of their specials included their Beetroot salad (£4.25), a favourite of mine that originally featured only at the Southbank pop-up. Composed of marinated beetroot with baby spinach, pink pickled onion and feta and a hibiscus dressing, this salad is a perfect marriage of sweet and sharp. However, eager to sample some of their new winter dishes, we chose not to order this but to share a variety of the other offerings. To start, we couldn’t resist a nibble of Guacamole (£3.95). This is freshly made everyday and served with tortilla chips. The ripe avocado was deliciously chunky, punctuated by tangy cherry tomatoes and garnished with lime juice and coriander. From the street food selection, we enjoyed the Huitlacoche (£3.95), a quesadilla with sautéed mushrooms, truffley Mexican corn and melted cheese. I’ve never tasted truffle in a Mexican context but it certainly complemented the oozy cheese.
My favourites, however, were the Sweet potato and feta taquito (£3.95) and the Plantain taco (£3.95). A first on the cards at Wahaca were the blue corn tortillas of the taquito, which provided a striking encasing to the delicious filling of mashed sweet potato. The topping of shredded lettuce lent a further crunch and the wonderfully tasty crema, salsa fresca and chipotle mayo were well-seasoned. The dish was an exciting layering of flavours, ingredients and textures.
The combination of plantain with the indulgent crema and feta, meanwhile, gave the taco a perfect balance of crispiness and creaminess. The sweetness of the plantain was offset by the frijoles and hot chipotle abodo and although I’m typically not one for chilli sauce, I couldn’t resist adding further splashes of Wahaca’s renowned smoky chipotle and fruity habanero sauces, which lent a kick of smoky paprika, garlic, cocoa and ginger notes. Much to my delight, these sauces can also be purchased in supermarkets.
In true Wahaca style, we rounded off our meal with Churros y chocolate (£3.95) – Mexican cinnamon doughnuts with a rich and indulgent chocolate (or caramel) sauce.
Wahaca brings the fun of the street to an interior and playful setting. As at the other branches, decor and ambience is cheerful and market-stall bright. What’s more, not only are the dishes typical of the fresh food found in authentic Mexican markets, but the prices are incredibly reasonable. Looking to the markets of Mexico for inspiration, Wahaca was born from a love of fresh, honest, Mexican market food and the Wimbledon branch proved no different.
Wahaca, Victoria Crescent, 35 The Broadway, Wimbledon, London SW19 1QD