Remember Thomasina Miers? She won Masterchef in 2005 (way back when I was procrastinating from GCSE revision and dreaming about running a café instead of going to Med School) and went on to front a Mexican cookery programme for Channel 5. Two years later, she teamed up with Mark Selby and started a Mexican Street Food restaurant in London’s West End. With the opening of the latest Wahaca in Chichester, there are now 24 restaurants touting their very endearing version of Mexican street food.
I have to admit, that when I first visited Wahaca, just tucked off Oxford Street, it was by accident. My brother and I were meeting for lunch equi-distant from our workplaces and happened across the bright welcoming colours whilst being easily tempted by the promise of tacos.
We were impressed. Since then, I’ve visited several of their London restaurants and made their way through both the street food tapas-style menu AND the cocktails. (Well, you can’t blame a girl when they’re THIS good)
So you can understand that when the lovely folk at Wahaca got in touch about their new Chichester restaurant, I was a little excited. Finally! A Wahaca within striking distance all year round.
Wahaca have taken over an big old warehouse style space on South street. The night I visited, Mark Selby (co-founder) was also there and he described how they discovered the awesome ceiling height at the back half of the restaurant had been hidden behind a false ceiling. The restaurant looks fantastic from the uncovered vaulted ceiling with its industrial details through to the incredible mural that the Italian artist, Gola Hundun, painted along one wall.
Not only is it a comfortable place to be, I can’t remember the last time I felt such genuine warmth from staff. From the welcome on the door, to the friendly barman who couldn’t wait to show off the cocktail menu through to our waiter, James, and the restaurant manager, Helen. Everyone felt invested and engaged as well as quite happy to show off the menu by recommending their favourite dishes.
Wahaca are very good at producing tasty food. They’re also pretty good at being good. Good to the environment, good at supporting communities, good at being sustainable. Good job.
See the thing is, I am far more likely to go back to somewhere that I know is bothered about its impact on its surroundings than I am your run-of-the-mill restaurant. I seek out places that are conscientious in their sourcing of ingredients and who consciously seek to reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint. They might not shout about it but Wahaca have won the ‘Sustainable Restaurant Group’ award three times and when you dig a little deeper, it seems they actually care. That’s a big deal on the high street these days.
After chatting with Mark, it seemed sustainability and careful sourcing of ingredients is something that he is genuinely passionate about and it isn’t just a gimmick. It’s refreshing.
But back to the food. We ate so. much. food.
As we were both driving, we had to skirt around the Chilli and Coriander Margaritas but headed to the Passionfruit and Hibiscus Cooler mocktail instead. Delicious.
After pondering the menu whilst demolishing a bowl of the Chorizo topped frijoles (don’t miss them!), our waiter helped us to decide on a pile of different street food plates including both of the late summer specials. Our eyes were definitely bigger than our bellies but we did our duty and set about trying each plate that was brought out to us. I particularly enjoyed the Cactus and Courgette Tostadas, the Summer Pea and Mint Empanadas annnnd the Cornbread. Oh heck, actually, I loved the whole lot.
There was definitely no room for pudding. So we…had pudding. Fresh pineapple with spiced caramel. Yum.
We had to practically roll ourselves back to the cars. Not at our most elegant, one can admit!
So thanks Wahaca, for inviting us to experience your new Chichester branch. I’ll be back really soon (quite possibly with my sister this Friday I think…any excuse!).
Give Wahaca a try if you’re in town and if you don’t live on the South Coast, find your nearest Wahaca.
Thanks to Wahaca for inviting Ellie and I to visit their Chichester restaurant – I only feature products or companies on my Blog that I would personally use and recommend to my readers. All reviews, words and opinions are my own and posted with no obligation to the collaborating brand