Written by Indigo Jones, Hannah Penwright and Sasha Nugara for Quench magazine
Last week our section editors were offered the chance to review Wahaca Cardiff, a Mexican chain which can be found across the UK. The restaurant prides itself on sustainability, and its new menu explains how it’s the most sustainable yet. After having been to the restaurant our editors decided to write a collaborative review to discuss the highs and lows of the visit, whilst showcasing the wonderful food they were able to indulge on.
When I opened our mailbox and noticed an email from Wahaca, I was jumping for joy! I had never been to the restaurant before and have been itching to go due to my fascination and devotion to Mexican food. This love for the cuisine stemmed long before my trip to Mexico in 2017, where I experienced authentic food full of colour and flavours. Having travelled there myself, I had extremely high expectations for our meal at Wahaca.
I ordered the mushroom and feta tacos, chargrilled steak and cheese tacos and the Devon crab tostada. I decided on these options as I wanted to try the variety of things that Wahaca had to offer. All three dishes were full of flavour and were very appealing to the eye. My favourite out of the three had to be the Devon crab tostada as combination of the crab and pink pickled onions tasted so fresh and worked almost like a palette cleanser to the other dishes. My only complaint is that I would have loved a bit of a kick to the plates, having developed quite a tolerance for spicy food, I felt like that’s what these dishes were missing. I would have asked one of the wait staff for some hot sauce to add to my food, but similar to Mexico unfortunately the service was slow, and I was unable to ask.
The highlight of the night had to be the £5 margaritas which they offered the week we attended to celebrate Mexican Independence Day. We ordered a variety of passion fruit and hibiscus flavoured margaritas, and these fruity drinks made the perfect accompaniment to our meals. I personally highly recommend going to Wahaca for both food and cocktails, and I would definitely attend again but perhaps next time I’ll ask for some hot sauce when I order!
When limited to the vegetarian options, I love it when a restaurant serves tapas-style small plates as it means there’s likely to be a lot more choice- and Wahaca did not disappoint. My favourite out of the three small plates I chose was the mushroom and feta tacos; they were nothing short of incredible. The star of the tacos was definitely the mushrooms, as they were meaty (in a good way for a vegetarian), with a beautiful flavour. The smokiness of the ancho paired with the tangy feta was heavenly. The only disappointment was that there were only two- I could have happily eaten my weight in them.
The only dish out of the three I wouldn’t pick again was the black bean and three cheese quesadillas. For a small plate, I found them almost too filling that I struggled to finish the rest of my food. I’d also have liked some more flavour from the filling, as even with three types of cheese I found it quite bland. Regardless, the meal ended on a high note, as the last dish to arrive were the crispy cauliflower bites. Think perfectly crisp, well-seasoned batter, and a punchy aioli for an added kick to dip in. The cauliflower flavour wasn’t overpowering (which often seems the case with dishes like this), but it was just enough that the flavour still shone. It’s a shame these aren’t vegan so that more people can try them, as they’re too good not to order.
Often, being vegetarian in a restaurant means you have only a couple of options to pick from, which means eating there often can get a bit dull. However, there’s so many meat-free options at Wahaca that I don’t think I’ll ever get bored about eating here. I’ll definitely be returning to try more of the dishes!
Today’s Covid climate has forced many restaurants to change their entire eating out experience in order to accommodate strict health and safety regulations. It is safe to say that Wahaca is no exception. Drip fed into the restaurant, we were given a comprehensive run down of the companies new policies and all the actions they were taking in order to ensure a safe experience. A one-way system had been formed around the restaurant and sheets of Perspex fixed onto the tables. If we could be confident about one thing, it was that they cared about our wellbeing.
The menu itself offered a dazzling selection of Mexican bites and the small plates option meant that I was able to sample as much as I could. I ordered the pork pibil tacos, the grilled chicken club quesadillas and the new cheese and chilli croquetas. The highlight of the meal was definitely the pork tacos due to the combination of succulent meat, tangy pickled onion and soft taco shell. The portion size was generous for a small plate – which I appreciated as I could eat them all day! The croquetas were perfectly round and perfectly cheesy but I would warn you to proceed with caution! Fortunately, I’m a huge spice fan and I absolutely loved the chilli wave, it was a perfect contrast to the mild quesadillas. They came with a tomatillo apple salsa which complimented the chilli perfectly and offered a refreshing after taste. Overall, the food did not disappoint, and I would recommend all that I ordered!
There’s nothing better than being able to enjoy your food with the comfortable knowledge that the journey it took to your plate was sustainable and had little effect on the environment. Wahaca have made moves to ensure their fish and meat come from trustworthy sources, making the special effort to become one of the first restaurants in the UK pass an audit by the Marine Stewardship Council and stock their approved fish. Equally, Wahaca was the first restaurant to become carbon neutral and they use renewable energy throughout their restaurants. They also help to fund the Improved Mexican Cookstove project which donates efficient cookstoves to low income households in Mexico, improving their livelihood and reducing fuel use as much as 58%. Its things like this which can help improve the eating out experience by tenfold as you guiltlessly support a company that are doing so much to give back. I will definitely be returning to Wahaca.