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Wahaca review

Park Pavilion, 40 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5FW
t: 0207 516 9145

For those of you outside London, this is gonna be a boring, insignificant post. But I love doing restaurant reviews as it keeps me in touch with the job I miss terribly. I used to do restaurant, club, pub, hotel, boutique reviews for a living back in India.

Wahaca in Canary Wharf (SE London), owned by 2005 Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers aims at promoting Mexican street market eating. Like I have mentioned a zillion times before, I am a total sucker for Mexican grub and was pretty excited to try out this new restaurant so close to our place. I secretly hoped it would be kick-ass so I could quench my quesadilla cravings by just hopping over.

There is a ‘no reservations’ policy at Wahaca because apparently in markets in Mexico, you can eat whenever you want and at whatever time of the day. You also are told that you will be served as and when the food is ready. There is no deal of starters first, followed by mains etc.

We walked in at about 7.30pm and didn’t have to wait at all to be seated as the place was relatively empty. The interiors are quite swanky and spacious, although I didn’t really get the market feel. Its more like communal dining with strangers sharing a huge wooden table made of recycled wood and laid with hand blown glass. A very familiar practise I’ve noticed in a lot of Thai, Japanese and Chinese restaurants, the communal dining that is!

After we were seated (I wouldn’t say comfortable, since the seating was hard and there was no back rest which made it difficult to relax) our stewardess explained what the sauces were and the menu in general. There is a drinks and nibbles section, street food, mains and the desserts. We were told if we were just gonna go for the street food alone, it would be like tapas dishes, in small portions and would have to do at least 3 per person.

After scrutinising the cocktail menu my husband decided to try the Bloody Maria which was spicy and awesome. I had The Barragan- a Mojito-ish drink, but really diluted. I didn’t get the taste of tequila at all and they went on and on about how they used the best tequila and all that jazz on the menu.

We picked the Pork Pibil for starters – slow cooked Pork in a Yucatecan (a Mexican state) marinade served on a soft tortilla for starters. The pork was brilliant, just melt in your mouth but extremely oily, I must add. I am not sure what the Yucatecan flavour was. I got very Indian flavours instead. The Chipotle chicken Quesadilla was average, I think i make better ones at home.

Ordered a second round of cocktails. This time I went for the Tamarind Margarita only to be disappointed again. It didn’t have any hint of Tamarind which I thoroughly like and was actually looking forward to. The husband ordered ‘Day of the Dead’ cocktail and it tasted like Sangria. Nothing out-of-this-world there as well.

Mains were even more disappointing. I am not that much of a seafood fan and since nothing else seemed to excite me, I opted for the Classic Enchillada and Ro went ahead with the Chicken Burrito. Accompanied/stuffed with the same green rice, both were below average. The experience so far, not so great.

I decided to give dessert a last chance and they let me down there as well. Churros, seriously, how can anyone go wrong with churros? They were not sweet and crispy and hot and the chocolate dip was the only thing worth having. I think Taco Bell in the US serves better Mexican fast food than this for sure, but Wahaca, definitely not the best place to have authentic Mexican grub.

The only thing worth commenting was the service which was impeccable. The bill came up to a little over 45 quid which was pretty high I would say, for something very average like this. I may be wrong about the food and it probably would be better the next time. The question is ‘Will there be a next time?’. I’m not so sure.

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  1. Nisha, I can do nothing but agree with your review.
    I only have experience of the original Wahaca behind Covent Garden and must say that the first time was verging on the average for food and the 2nd the service was so bad that we left even before being seated.

    A lot of people seem to adore these restaurants, but I do have extensive experience of Mexican street food and this surely isn’t that: found it overpriced and far too pretentious.


  2. Carla…i know..i saw a lot of positive review on qype and the like and was actually wondering if the Covent garden one was that you have mentioned your experience, i think i shall pass on Wahaca in general

  3. I like Wahaca for what it is, a friendly place to fill up, but can’t comment authoritatively on its authenticity. I’m surprised, however, that Thomasina Miers, the restaurant founder who’s still very much involved in the business and travels widely, would let them serve dishes that didn’t reflect the cuisine she’s most passionate about. Interesting!

  4. Folks, I would just like to add that I’ve been in touch with Wahaca regarding this review and have the following feedback:

    “I’m really sorry you weren’t crazy about the food or cocktails at Wahaca. We are constantly working on the flavours of our food and have passed your feedback onto our head chef Thomasina Miers as she is constantly interested in hearing feedback”

    I thought it was important to share this, as it’s good to know reviews are taken seriously and Thomasina listens to feedback.

    If anyone else has eaten at Wahaca Canary Wharf, please share your thoughts in the comments here. The more reviews the better!

  5. Matt..thanks a lot for putting this across to the Wahaca team. Hope they do something about it.

  6. Ha, I totally agree. I have only been to the Wahaca at the Westfield mall and it was not very good. I am an American so I am quite picky about Mexican food and this was just sub-par. My brother and I ate at Wahaca and found it hilarious that our ginger-haired, clearly English waiter was referring to himself as ‘Pedro’ (with an accent implied) as well as saying certain words like ‘salsa’ and ‘tacos’ with a hint of an accent. It all seemed too superficial and staged. A far better, authentic Mexican restaurant is the Taqueria in Nottinghill.

    Also check out my restaurant review of Busaba here if you are interested:

    • Vanessa, I stumbled upon this comment on the internet and found it hilarious, because I believe I am the waiter you are talking about! My name is Pedro, I worked at Wahaca in Westfield, and even though my beard is reddish I am, believe it or not, Mexican! I was born and raised in Mexico City. My name is not fake and unfortunately neither is my accent (I wish I could get rid of it.)

      As far as the authenticity of Wahaca’s food is concerned, I worked there for nine months and ate their food every day. And while it’s not 100% authentic it is one of the most authentic Mexican restaurants I’ve ever been to outside of Mexico. A lot of people think of Tex-Mex as Mexican food, but it isn’t. We don’t have fajitas in Mexico, we don’t have crunchy tacos, we don’t have cheesy nachos. What we do have is tostadas, quesadillas, taquitos, and tacos just like the ones at Wahaca. The “street food” section of the menu is by far the most authentic.

      Anyway, I just wanted to say hi. Sorry you didn’t enjoy your meal at Wahaca, but rest assured you weren’t served by a phony Englishman pretending to be Mexican! ;)

  7. That’s a shame – you probably know a lot more about Mexican food than I do but I was pleased with my visit. I agree their service is excellent.

  8. @ Pedro – I’m Latin American and have visited Mexico extensively.

    Whereas the menu at Wahaca has ambitions of the authentic I do not associate Mexican “street food” with the trendy and white ambience of Wahaca.

    To me Mexico is colour, light and laughter and that I did not find in Covent Garden.
    I’m sure Thomasina Mier’s intentions are the best, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that Wahaca fails to bring the real deal to London.

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