Wahaca Restaurant Visit: May 2016
Thomasina Miers, Co-founder of Wahaca sprung onto our screens through her successful whirlwind MasterChef journey. In conjunction with Mark Selby Thomasina created the Wahaca menu, clearly concentrating on quality, freshness and the true authentic Mexican eating experience. The Wahaca restaurant situated in Manchester City Centre’s Corn Exchange looked fun, friendly and vibrant. Now the sun was out, I thought that I would take a visit to Mexico to see what the restaurant had to offer.
Wahacas wonderful ethical ethos regarding sustainability is at the forefront of their business model. Ensuring that their food is ethically sourced and being mindful of their carbon footprint when transporting produce. Therefore respecting the environment and the future of our planet. Supporting local farming communities by sourcing direct from cooperatives. Also a lovely addition, is that the tequilas and mescals are sourced from a small family-run businesses hence ensuring first class product quality.
However, with organisation and structure being central in my life when I first heard that the restaurant only allows a quarter of their tables to be reserved over lunchtime and up to 6pm in the evening and after that it was walk in only, I thought this could never work for me. No scheduled table booking, no allocated table at the bar for cocktails, but how wrong could I have been? It works!! Not being table timed is a rare philosophy and not being rushed to “turn over a table” was liberating and relaxing in such a busy society. Furthermore, this adds to the authenticity of the place really adopting the true Mexican laid back vibes and culture. Relaxed, informal, friendly and fun…I loved Wahaca from the moment that I arrived.
Laura our server definitely understood the business ethos, the chilled out Mexican vibe and the customer journey. Friendly, informal service style yet focused and informative. Laura’s knowledge of the menu was outstanding and she helped us work our way through the various Mexican Mouthwatering Menu choices. The Menu concept here is marvelous. Servers circle on the paper menus what each diner has ordered. A common sense approach that is clear for both diner and server alike. Importantly, the menus are later recycled in line with their ethical ethos.
Nothing says Mexican like Margaritas. We opted for the Tamarind. A sweet and sour tasting beverage with maximum refreshment. We also indulged in the Hibiscus named after a Mexican flower that was flavored with fresh cranberry. We teamed this up with the Guacamole that is freshly made every day using Hass avocados & freshly squeezed lime juice with Chicharrón style puffed pork scratchings and the Frijoles & tortilla chips served with Creamy twice cooked black beans served with crumbly Lancashire cheese & crema.
The temptingly tasty tacos were amazing! My only advice is make sure that you have not had any heavy food prior, as these tacos are seriously addictive and have the yummy factor, so you will have no self-control. Tacos of Chicken Tinga included grilled chicken thigh in a sweet & smoky chipotle & tomato sauce and they really hit the spot. Usually, a pink sticky note does not raise my excitement levels, but when handed a pink sticky note at Wahaca this is a different story. It only means one thing – the specials! Luckily, the spring special and my favorite taco was a slow cooked Lamb shoulder. The British lamb shoulder was marinated in ancho chilli and orange and cooked until falling apart. Served in a soft corn tortilla with crisp slaw.
Our selection from the Mexican Market treats was the Chicken Wings. Juicy Chicken wings tossed in their stunning burnt habanero salsa. An authentic offering that was Hot, Hot, Hot…not uncomfortably so and certainly brought the heat of Mexico into the heart of Manchester city centre.
From the Grill both dishes were fresh and flavorsome. We opted for the Marinated grilled chicken. Chargrilled chicken breast marinated in Yucatecan spices, cumin and oregano. Served with green rice, salad, spicy pickled onions & grilled pineapple. Also, the British steak and of course served the Mexican way was Bavette steak marinated overnight in a smoky Pasilla de Oaxaca rub, served medium rare with grilled crisp cheese, green rice & smoky chipotle salsa
Anyone who visits Wahaca must and yes MUST order the sweet potato side. Crispy fried chunks of sweet potato, dressed with smoky caramelised mojo de ajo. Carl an amazing server at the restaurant first introduced me to these chunks of sweet heaven. A tantilising mouthwatering taste sensation and to this day I have yet to find sweet potatoes cooked better than these guys do them!
Sadly, the Mexican journey was coming to an end, but it ended on a Mexican high…Oh yeah bring on the delicious desserts. The Churros y chocolate were Mexican doughnuts with rich chocolate and salted caramel dipping sauces. We also tasted the Honeycomb Chocolate bites. Dark chocolate studded with honeycomb, raisins, roasted peanuts and a hint of pasilla. Both desserts were delightful.
On our visit, we decided to do the traditional route of starters and big main plates, but next time we will be going for true full Mexican madness and opting for the smaller plates sharing option in order to take a virtual stroll through Mexico’s authentic street markets, by sampling all their street food delights such as Tacos, Taquitos, Tostadas and Quesadillas.
Watch out Wahaca is in town, Arriba! However, gone are the days of tacky Mexican hats, unauthentic food offerings and cheap tequila. With an ever changing menu reflecting seasonality that continues to introduce more new and exciting Mexican flavors and combinations.
Muchas Gracias, thank you for Reading 🙂
Wahaca Manchester, The Corn Exchange, Exchange Square, Manchester M4 3TR.