Wahaca is a Mexican style chain restaurant founded by 2005 Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers. The first branch was opened in 2007 and by 2015 they had 19 branches – that is so impressive! This was my first visit to the Southbank branch and my first visit to a Wahaca as a Vegan. It used to be my go to place, so I was really excited (and a little apprehensive) about my visit.
We visited the Southbank branch as we were off to the National Theatre later that night. The building this Wahaca is in is literally a few shipping containers stacked on top of each other. It’s pretty small inside and we were seated at a makeshift table with kiddy chairs, no light and right next to a stock room door which staff kept whacking into my chair (unapologetically). Not a great start. I get the feeling this branch is always exceedingly busy and mainly full of tourists and theatre goers so they aren’t that worried about getting repeat custom from any of these patrons.
Customer service is such a big thing for me, I can’t bear a place that doesn’t have good service and friendly staff. The food could be amazing but if the service is off then it ruins the whole experience for me.
POORLY LABELLED MENUS
Wahaca’s menu is not the most Vegan friendly; they don’t label anything as Vegan (e.g. a bowl of tortilla chips and guacamole is labelled Vegetarian even though it is Vegan) and they don’t have any indication on the menu as to which dishes can be easily altered.
Vegetarian dishes are clearly labelled and our Waiter had no problem with me asking for a Vegetarian dish but as a dairy free option and he even willingly double checked for dairy in a dish that he didn’t know off the top of his head if it was dairy or not. He didn’t make a fuss about having to do so at all. So that was a relief/good sign. I’ve been in places before where wait staff have rolled their eyes, huffed and not known what a Vegan is!
ALL OF THE TACOS, PLEASE
To start we had a bowl of crunchy tortilla chips with guacamole (really nice/small) £4.45, sweet & spicy chipotle & adobo plantain tacos (delicious!) and cactus/courgette tacos doused in guajillo oil (spicy/flavoursome/divine/want more!). Washed down with an ice cold Virgin Mojito – have to get this every time, I love it so much!
For main, Tom had the Summer Vegetable Enchilladas (without cheese). I like that they have seasonal veg on the menu, it’s a really lovely touch. I believe the Veg was a medley of mushrooms, shredded cabbage and courgette. It came with a small side of rice/beans and it was really filling and pretty good.
For my main I had ordered the Cactus/Courgette burrito and I was VERY excited about that after trying the starter taco version but they brought me a Summer Vegetable Burrito and never have I felt more sad to be eating a mushroom. Good luck trying to catch a servers eye in this branch to tell them your order is wrong! I didn’t bother trying and just tucked in. I am glad I did, because it was really nice and I wouldn’t have ordered it otherwise. The tortilla was toasted to perfection and the veg was great (bit short on any sauce though). I really want to go back (to a different branch) again so I can get a Cactus Burrito!
I hope Wahaca wise up to the Vegan movement and start labelling their food. And I hope to be back soon to get my hands on that spicy Cactus Burrito!