We don’t normally do reviews for places that don’t serve burgers, but Wahaca definitely deserves a nod. It’s one of our go-to places to eat when we’re out at Bluewater or even in London, especially if we happen to be by the Southbank. So, this week I’m reviewing Wahaca, along with a few photos from our last visit!
First of all, I want to talk about why we love Wahaca. Firstly, I’ve always been a sucker for Mexican food, and the street food angle makes it all the more exciting. You can have lots of little bits of what you like, all together at once!
I also love the decor. Wahaca have this kind of salvaged chic going on which I really love – my favourite thing to do is sit in the VW bus tables in the Bluewater branch. Actually, no, I tell a lie, my favourite thing is to make up excuses to go wash my hands. They have the brightest, sunniest, most beautiful bathroom I have ever seen. It makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a tropical dream.
But never mind all of that – onto the menu. My absolute favourite drink in the world is the horchata. We had these endless in Budapest (of all places) and, while that one remains the best, these are pretty damn good too. I would probably go for the horchatas even if I didn’t like the food. Because really, where else can you get a good horchata in Kent?
Then there’s the superb menu choices, most of which change on a seasonal basis. Except for a few staples, such as the frijoles, which we always get as a starter while we wait for the other dishes to come out. Normally the vegetarian options include some sort of plantain, which is just so gorgeous. I could eat my body weight in plantain, I really could.
Finally there’s the sweet potatoes, which are so divine I honestly cry a little bit inside every time I eat them. You pop them into your mouth and they just melt on your tongue. The flavouring is so beautiful. I have no idea how they make them this fabulous – believe me, I’ve tried. Having a sweet potato side each is an absolute must whenever we visit.
Sadly, of course, we have to go onto the negatives. Because even as much as I love Wahaca, I do admit that it has its flaws.
Firstly, let’s talk price. So, you have to buy at least a side order, a drink, and probably two mains in order to get enough to eat for a proper meal. But when each of the dishes is around £5 (and some going up much higher than that) it starts to add up. You can hit £20 a head very easily, which makes it not as wallet-friendly as some of the other restaurants at Bluewater.
Then there’s the flavouring. Mostly they get it right, but one thing Mexico is famous here is spiced food. And at Wahaca, they make everything hot – like super-hot. So while I do love my plantains, I almost always spend the whole dish wishing there was some way to scrape off the hot sauce so I could actually taste the plantain properly.
Finally, the portion sizes. Let’s take a moment to compare two dishes. The first you see in the image before you is the Sonora Salad, one of our favourites, which is meant to be either shared or a full meal. We love it, a lot (you can eat the bowl! It’s made of nachos!). It sits next to the side order of sweet potatoes.
Next, scroll back up and look at my other dish examples. That plantain dish had three of the plaintains on tortillas… and that was the whole thing. The servings are all absolutely tiny. The only dishes I would say are sized right are the two above. The rest are always far too small.
There’s always the issue of serving, too. Now, the food is served on a street food basis – when it’s ready, you get it. But this means that sometimes you are waiting for the last dish or two while the rest is going cold. Sometimes they deliver the thing I wanted to eat first, last. It’s not as convenient as it sounds when the restaurant is busy and packed – which it almost always is.
Finally, you hardly ever have enough room for dessert, which is a crying shame. Especially when there are options like churros and, well, this.
Also the servers have this annoying thing where they scrawl all over your menu and you can hardly ever read their handwriting. Another of those things that is supposed to be a perk of the experience but actually gets really grating when all you want to do is order your food and some 18-year-old is painstakingly writing their name with their tongue out the side of their mouth for concentration.
But! All that said, I would definitely recommend Wahaca as a place for vegetarians to eat. The food is fresh by necessity, there is always lots of variety, and you can eat four portions of sweet potatoes and nothing else if all else fails. And believe me. You will want to.