Food & Drink
Wahaca Southbank view

Review: Wahaca, Southbank – Festive flavours are on the menu

With the festive season drawing to a close, I have only just emerged from a taco-induced food coma courtesy of Wahaca’s Christmas menu.

Seated on the upper level of Wahaca Southbank, the view over both the riverside Christmas market and London’s cityscape promised a festive break from the outside chaos.

Built from renovated shipping containers, the Southbank branch immediately appears cramped with little space to manoeuvre.

Upon entering, however, a surprisingly expansive interior opens up.

It’s a restaurant branch where the architecture creatively pairs well with the Christmas-inspired Mexican platters.

Food comes thick and fast, with little room for chatter once the feasting begins. 

With the social dining culture of Mexican street food markets in mind, serving portions truly did not disappoint.

Fusing Christmas classics with Mexican flavours, Wahaca serves plates of ham hock tacos and roast potato esquites.

It’s an interesting idea that mostly delivers on a promise to delight.

A nod in particular to the ham hock tacos, where spiced ham and a creamy slaw pleasantly compliment the crunch of tortillas and crumbled crackling. 

Wahaca, Ham Hock Tacos
Wahaca’s Ham Hock Tacos – A flavoursome blend of Christmas and Mexico

The esquites also offer an interesting take on a festive mainstay, although there was an excessively soft, almost buttery texture that falls slightly short of the mark set by the tacos.

Perhaps an overindulgence of jalapeño allioli and Mexican crema which coated the esquites. Roast potatoes do tend to be notoriously fickle.

But where the esquites fell short in terms of texture, the portion size more than compensated.

A plate to share indeed.

Wahaca’s staple sharer of Mexico City Nachos helped keep our table occupied while we waited (very briefly) for our sides to come.

Wahaca, Mexico City Nachos
Wahaca’s Mexico City Nachos – Make sure your eyes are not bigger than your stomach

Other plates such as a plantain and chorizo side pleased, although the showstopper for the night was not in fact the food.

It was a warming shot of Cazcabel coffee tequila, equally sweet and strong that stole the limelight.

Warning: the shot is a little thicker than most, however amidst the festive season the Cazcabel filled a hot-chocolate-shaped void. 

For those who favour syrupy drinks, the Cazcabel is a must.

The table service was impeccable.

Speed and attentiveness were the name of the game here, although not of the clingy and overbearing kind that may frequent other eateries.

Co-founded by Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers, Wahaca has quickly become a staple of London’s food circuit.

From the initial Covent Garden 2007 opening, the chain now has ten out of their 13 branches located across the capital.

It’s a culinary success marked by achievements both inside and outside the kitchen.

I can see why.

In 2016, Wahaca became the first UK restaurant to be certified as ‘carbon neutral’ and in 2019 Londoners voted it their favourite place to eat (according to YouGov). 

Exposed steel staircases and bannisters offset the carnival-esque riverfront facade well.

It’s a nod of recognition to the area’s working history.

The endless depths of the eighth repurposed containers which make up Wahaca Southbank offer ample seating, although table real estate at times felt a little cramped once the plates started coming. 

Whether this is truly a bad thing I will leave for you to decide. 

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