Wahaca opening night

Wahaca opening night

So tonight I visited Wahaca, a brand new Mexican restaurant to Brighton that opened its doors to the public today, and ate all the food. Wahaca is a fairly small Mexican chain, probably best known around London, but also with establishments in Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol and Cardiff. I’m not normally too excited by chain restaurants, and find the unimaginiative Mexican chain menus apathetic – ooh, a Mexican cheeseburger, really? However, I’ve watched over the last few weeks as this place was built and was intrigued by their branding, so checked the menu out online and knew I needed to get in there.

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We arrived just before 7pm and it wasn’t quite yet heaving. The host informed us of a rough 30 minute wait which, for opening night on a Friday, was okay and she directed us to the bar area. The bar probably holds around 8 or 9 tables for people waiting, which quickly became an issue as 10 minutes later the place really started to pick up and was quickly buzzing. But having a separate bar area is definitely better than no bar area, and allows you to sample the cocktail menu!

I’m not a huge tequila fan but figured if I should have a margarita anywhere it should be here, and Wahaca offer several twists on the classic. Both my friend and I chose the tamarind margarita, offering a sweet-sour fruit twist – an apparent Mexican favourite. I’ll admit when we got the drinks I had expected more from the presentation glass-wise, and we weren’t overly enamoured with the tamarind taste, but this was only the first drink at least. We went on to try a Twisted Pear and Hibiscus G&T later which hit the spot, so rest assured you’ll find something you like.

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Shortly after being seated our waitress introduced herself and quickly familiarised us with the menu by making recommendations for sharing several dishes and sides.  So we ordered the following:
Pork tacos, chicken taquitos, sweet potato and feta taquitos, chilli quesadillas, salmon tostadas, chilli chorizo fundido, sweet potatoes, frijoles with chorizo and rice n’ beans.

Dishes are served to you as soon as they’re ready, and sharing between three meant lots of finger eating, messy cutting and a game of musical plates as things come and go all at the same time. And it was so much fun!

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Every single dish was delicious and we each had our favourites: I’d strongly recommend the pork tacos and chilli cheese fundido, but was also really pleasantly surprised with the sides. Things I always thought I hated about Mexican food – mushy black beans and overly tomatoey chipotle salsa – turned out to be the poor attempts at authenticity from other restaurants, and I think Wahaca hit the nail on the head for textures and flavours. So much so that we forgot to make use of the Wahaca sauces on the table. 😏

Could we manage dessert? Of course we could, even my dessert-indifferent boyfriend. We ordered churros, obviously, and honeycomb bites. Did we want caramel on the side of the churros in addition to the chocolate dip? Of course we did.  Or, in my friend Tan’s not-missing-a-beat response: “Yeh”.

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What amazed me the most about Wahaca was the incredible warmth of every single team member we communicated with; their confidence in the menu and already established sense of camaraderie made the experience spectacular. And for opening night, they were on fire! What more, the bill was unbelievably reasonable. For 9 dishes, 2 desserts, a beer and two cocktails it cost us £62.95, with a separate bar bill for two cocktails and another beer at around £18.

Looking at a restaurant as a third place can be tricky for some with their fast-paced natures, as it doesn’t exactly endorse hanging out there all evening, but lets break it down: vibrant and comfortable decor; a buzzing atmosphere; authentic staff including you in quips with other colleagues; super speedy service; affordable prices and really, really tasty food.  We couldn’t have asked for more in a social environment and I can definitely see Wahaca becoming a regular haunt for us. And soon, too, as the menu is going to change in just a few weeks time!

If this has tempted you try Wahaca out when you’re visiting Brighton, or one of their other locations, you can view the current menu here.

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