Oaxaca is obviously too difficult for Londoners to pronounce. That’s why Thomasina Miers called her Mexican restaurant Wahaca which is the phonetic pronunciation of Oaxaca, Mexico’s culinary capital. It’s a clever little nod to those in the know about Mexican cuisine. Everything about the place is rather clever, the decor of hot bright colours and a boho chic collection of tomato tins and crates, the emphasis on “so hot right now” street food, even the communal tables capture the zeitgeist.
There is a no bookings policy so it is best to get to Wahaca early although they do let you put your name down, take a beeper and head to a pub around the corner to wait your turn (a much better option than the overcrowded bar area). The menu offers much more varied options than the mainly refried beans, chicken and rice that I dined on in Mexico, in fact there is hardly a refried bean in sight which makes me think this is an Anglo version of Mexican food, or perhaps a rich mans version of Mexican food. I’m not complaining though I was sick to death of refried beans by the time I left Mexico.
Put off by the queues and perhaps the hype, I had never actually been to Wahaca until the other week when I had dinner with MTV boyfriend and our friends Anna and Nick. We were all starving and Mexican street food is the sort of food that is best if it is served quickly, luckily for us our food arrives in a flash. We barely have time to sip on our cheladas of beer served in a glass rimmed with lime and salt before we were tucking in. Of the tacos, pork pibil tacos (£3.85) were earthy and moist while vegetable tacos (£3.25) were a little gluey. Huitlacoche quesadillas (£3.95) sounded more exotic than what they were, toasted flour tortillas stuffed with corn and mushrooms, a better bet were the potato and chorizo quesadillas (£3.95) but then everything is better with chorizo right? Guacamole served with tortilla chips (£3.25) was tasteless and gloopy, lacking the familiar kick of lime which usually lifts this dish from being simply mashed avocado.
Wahaca is Mexican for the masses. I’ve had much better Mexican at Crazy Homie’s and Taqueria. That said, it’s a fun place to eat, service is speedy and the churros are sensational. Served so hot that they burn your fingers these long doughnut like pieces of hot sugary dough match perfectly with the creamy chocolate sauce. They might even be better than the churros I had in Mexico. Who knows about Oaxaca though, never been as it was too hard to say.
Details: 66 Chandos Place, Covent Garden WC2N4HG (Ph 020 7240 1883) Tube: Covent Garden
Damage: Such a bargain my mother would approve