On Wednesday 27 April, The Verse was fortunate enough to be invited down to Brighton’s most recent culinary opening, Wahaca Brighton. In the spirit of this week’s theme of sustainability, we were particularly interested following their announcement as the UK’s first Carbon Neutral-certified restaurant group. That, of course, and the tequila…
Though Brighton has its abundance of Mexican eateries (La Choza, Las Iguanas), the popularity of Wahaca was always predictable. Following widespread success since the first Wahaca opened in 2007, the ninth offering from Masterchef winner Thomasina Miers’ award-winning restaurant group serves up authentic Mexican street food at affordable prices, served against a backdrop of exotic interiors (including beautiful murals by Mexican street artist Mazatl).
7pm: We arrive at Wahaca Brighton to a packed restaurant – by no means a rarity since its opening on 15 April. Despite being visibly busy, the staff are incredibly welcoming and quickly show us to our seats…
Upon learning that Wahaca have four types of margaritas, we endeavour to try them all for a true Mexican experience. My favourite of the night is the slightly bitter Tamarind Margarita, a heady blend of the sweet-and-sour fruit and tequila. My companion preferred the Hibiscus Margarita, made from the cranberry-flavoured flower, which was slightly sweeter. But none moreso than the Passionfruit Margarita. It’s a delight, as is the Classic (mixed with a hint of agave), however I personally prefer a sharper flavour. Regardless, they were strong, and we certainly weren’t going to complain!
Margaritas – £6.95 each
When you’re sitting for a three-course meal, you can either go hard or go home. That being said, we didn’t want to fill up too quickly too early, so (upon much deliberation) ordered one starter between the two of us.
If you’re like us, and your knowledge of Mexican food barely extends outside the norm of taco/tortilla/empanadas, you’ll have to ask what frijoles are.
Truthfully, first appearances decide that it’s a little oily, and the frijoles (processed black beans) are not the most pleasant of colour (an odd, slate-ish brown), but the flavours of sobrasada and chorizo oil paired with tortilla chips just works.
Chorizo-topped frijoles – £4.50
We also opt for the Crispy Prawn Tacos, displayed to us on a “Spring Specials” post-it note. A little gimmicky, but as a self-confessed stationery nerd, I’m charmed. Our choice is a heavenly mix of prawns, chillies, spring onions, coriander and chipotle mayo stuffed into two crispy corn tortillas – delicious AND humanitarian – with 20p from each dish going to ednica.org.mx (a UNESCO-backed charity helping to educate street kids in Mexico City).
A new dish on the menu, Huitlacoche (yeah, we couldn’t pronounce it either) Empanadas were delightful, and make an amazing vegetarian option as little crispy pastry parcels stuffed with mushrooms, truffley Mexican corn and melted cheese. We’d also advocate Black Bean and Cheese Quesadillas – not only are they incredibly purse-friendly at £3.75, but they’re pretty filling. Just don’t do what we did and burn your tongue – these babies are HOT!
Mexico City style Salmon Sashimi Tostadas – £4.75
Crispy Prawn – £4.95
Black Bean and Cheese Quesadillas – £3.75
Huitlacoche Empanadas – £4.50
Honeycomb Chocolate Bites – £3.75
TOTAL COST: £54.00 for three courses and four cocktails between two.
Wahaca certainly delivers on taste, ambience, ethics and affordability – definitely student-friendly!
And a big shout out to our lovely waitress, Mela, who was wonderful and for whom nothing was too much trouble.
Wahaca Brighton, 160–161 North Street, Brighton, BN1 1EZ
Tel: 01273 934763 / Web: http://www.wahaca.co.uk
Mon – Sat: 12 – 23:00
Sunday: 12 – 22:30