Mexican restaurant Wahaca
66 Chandos Place
London WC2N 4HG
Mexican restaurant Wahaca
Watching the kitchen
Wahaca is a Mexican restaurant located in Covent Garden, not far from Charing Cross tube station. From outside it does not look big but as soon as you enter and go downstairs, you see the bar and behind it the huge open space. Usually I do not like eating in a basement but here I have to say it was fine. Probably because of the large room and the fun design. The atmosphere was great and the music not too loud. Fortunately we did not have to do the queue, as we came early for dinner, but by the time we left there were people waiting on the stairs.
I am not a specialist of Mexican food. I mostly ate Mexican food when I lived in Los Angeles (that was over 10 years ago) and I remember it was quite filling. That said, I did enjoy US Mexican cuisine, Taco Bell included. At Wahaca, we initially ordered two main courses only, assuming that that would be enough but actually they were not so we ordered more food. Thus, we managed to have the main courses followed by starters, which is a first for me.
As main courses we had the Classic enchilada (described as Succulent free-range chicken bathed in our house tomato sauce and sprinkled with crumbled cheese – £8.50) and a Marinated, grilled chicken (described as chargrilled, free range chicken in our homemade Yucatecan marinade with cumin, oregano and spices. Served with coriander rice and pink pickled onions – £8.50).
The classic enchilada wasn’t that great. Most of the problem with this dish is the minimal amount of chicken in it. Can you really call it “chicken” when the customer needs a magnifying glass to find it? I think tomato sauce tortilla with chicken flavour might be a bit more accurate. It was mostly sauce and tortilla. Mexican food (at least in London) has a tendancy to be very bland, and on the plus side, I would say it was the least bland mexican food I’ve had here. But £8.50 for a tortilla that had almost no filling is a bit steep. It could have used a more generous sprinkling of cheese too.
The marinated grilled chicken was good. It had flavours, was tender and it was nicely burnt. I found the meal on the small side but at least it was good. I used the red spicy sauce with it and it was seriously hot. If you are not into hot spicy stuff, avoid the red sauce and take the green sauce which was very mildly spicy.
Since we were still hungry (what a contrast compared to Taco Bell in the US where I almost had to nap because the portions were too big for me), we ordered a Chipotle chicken (Chicken cooked in a spicy tomato marinade, with cheese – £3.75) and a Beef salpicón (described as tender, shredded, aromatic beef with spicy habanero and red onion salsa – £3.75).
The chipotle chicken was OK. Kind of a small mexican toasted sandwich. As with the rest though, I’d make the complaint that there is seriously little meat in here. Dipped into the spicy sauce the taste was good. The beef dish was also OK. The shredded beef seemed very watery though… combined with my experiences of the other dishes containing minimal meat, I am left with the impression that this restaurant is trying to spend as little as possible per customer.
As drinks, we had the Tequila Limon (lime, tequila and sugar blitzed with ice – £7) which is a shot drink for two and a Mojito (tequila, mint, lime and apples – £6). The Tequila Limon was not good. I found it to be too watered. I miss the Cadillac Margarita I could get in California. The Mojito was not great either. It was too full of ice and the alcohol was not mixed through.
Classic enchilada (£8.50)
Marinated, grilled chicken (£8.50)
Details of the grilled chicken
Beef salpicón (£3.75)
Chipotle chicken (£3.75)
Mojito and Tequila limon
Cost and conclusion: it was £37.50 service charge not included. I like the fact they did not automatically add a 12.5% service charge. They will add it to parties of five or more though. I think it should be left to the appreciation of the customers only. The service was friendly though a little erratic (like the food). Overall, the food is OK and it is nice to have large tables but it seems very overpriced for what it is, and certainly not worth standing in a queue for.