It's proved a hit everywhere else, but can Wahaca crack Brighton?
Wahaca, Brighton Review
Mexican chain, Wahaca, co-founded by Thomasina Miers of Masterchef fame opened its doors in Brighton last month, replacing the prime spot on the corner of New Road – previously occupied by Strada. Mrs Foodie Brighton and I were invited to the press night a few weeks ago to check it out.
I’ve been to the Charlotte Street branch in London a couple of times over the last year or so and can’t say I’ve been particularly impressed. Service was pretty average and I found little of the food inspiring so my expectations weren’t high for the Brighton version.
First impressions were great as we arrived for dinner. We were greeted by two almost hysterically happy members of staff, one of which literally danced us to our table.
I’d seen the stunning mural artwork by Mexican street artist Mazatl on the hoarding whilst the site was being renovated and there are more of his beautiful murals inside, incorporated in to the cool design of the restaurant. Check out this video for more.
Thomasina was there and came over to have a chat. Turns out they’ve been waiting for over 4 years for a site to come up in Brighton and whilst the city is surely a safe bet from a business point of view, there’s a more personal reason for coming to Brighton in that both of her siblings live here.
Wahaca is committed to sustainability all ingredients are sourced as locally as possible to home, or transported with care for the environment. Fish is of the highest sustainability accreditation and all meat is British, sourced from producers with high welfare standards. Where specialist ingredients have to be delivered from Mexico, the approach is to buy direct from local co-operatives that support local farming communities. Not only that, Wahaca has just have been awarded the first Carbon Neutral restaurant group in the UK. Impressive.
We got straight down to ordering a couple of delicious Margaritas and had a look over the menu, which has a mix of small and bigger plates, with a recommendation of 2-3 small plates or 1 large plate per person.
The Taco options come in portions of two or three. We went for the Pork Pibil – 5 hour braised shoulder of pork cooked in special Yucatecan marinade with fiery pink pickled onions (£4.25) and the Crispy Prawn from the specials – deep fried chopped prawns, chillies, spring onions, & coriander with a tomato salsa & chipotle mayo.
There was a great contrast in texture and freshness between these two. The pork was rich and the pickled onions helped cut through it whilst the prawn tacos were much lighter and fresher thanks to the fresh salsa and you can’t argue that Wahaca is good value for money. Mrs. Scoff and I went to Carlito Burritto last week and their Pork Pibil Tacos, whilst very tasty were a hefty £7 for two compared to Wahaca’s three for £4.25. Could I taste the difference? I’m not sure.
Quite a few of the dishes we had aren’t on the summer menu, which is a shame because the Mac n’ Cheese we had was great and also had some nice, spicy Chicken Wings and Salmon Tostadas but one thing you can guarantee will always be on the menu is the Churros (£4.25), which came with rich chocolate and caramel dippings sauces. A must.
Wahaca Brighton exceeded my expectations, however I’m still yet to eat anything here that has really wowed me. That’s not so say that I won’t be back though, everything we ordered was tasty, service was attentive and enthusiastic (partly thanks to Thomasina’s presence I’m sure) and there’s a really nice laid back, cool atmosphere.
It definitely has it’s place and after such a long wait to secure a site in Brighton, Wahaca won’t be going anywhere soon.
160 – 161 North Street
Brighton BN1 1EZ