Opening: Wahaca, Manchester

The last time I visited a Wahaca was the night before the London Marathon last year. Keeley is a big fan and ask she was acting as my personal cheerleader for the event, it seemed a no brainer.  

Good food, that was going to taste great and fuel me for the day ahead, and Keeley could indulge herself with some of her favourites on the menu.

Of course that was London, and fast forward 18 months and Manchester too now has it’s own Wahaca. Given the recent demise of Lucha Libre, I wondered if there is a bit of a South American shaped hole in the city. We have the casual dining/take away style of Chango’s Burrito and Pancho’s Burrito, the Tex Mex style of Luck Lust Liquor & Burn, but for a sit down dining space we have either El Capo or Revolucion de Cuba. As much as I love the latter for 2-4-1 happy hour cocktails and a feast, it’s not really an all evening dining space. It gets loud, busy and in the evening is more a party space than a first date dinner experience. 

We attended the opening soft launch and started things off with a good classic Margarita. For me it’s always about that balance between sharp sour lime, smoke and a tickle of sweetness, and lip-stinging salt rim. Served in a tumbler, the straw is always surplus to requirements and discarded immediately. A good alternative for those of us who really like a little sweet and sour is the Tamarind Margarita, which takes it one step further and gives it a bit more depth.  

Appetites distinctly whetted, we eyed the menu. Making our minds up was just too difficult, so we opted for one of the sharing platters – Mexican Feast for food adventurers. This looked like it was definitely going to be perfect for us to pick at and share. 

From the pork pibil tacos (sharing three between two is a challenge!) to the salmon tostadas, it’s a feast of flavours and textures, that makes it really hard to stop eating.

Salty, spicy pork, crisp tacos, or in the soft cheesy, smoky chicken in the quesadilla, it was dishes like the pea and mint empanadas that were unusual and stand out. Sweet, minty, with new potatoes and sharp salty feta. 

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The Tenderstem broccoli with green goddess dressing, and the guacamole with pork scratchings pushed down the carb levels a smidge, in a very tasty fashion. 

How we found room for dessert, I’m still unsure, but manage it we did, with Keeley indulging in classic churros and chocolate sauce, whereas I wanted something a little less doughy and had one of the new menu selections, the Buñuelo with Tommi’s tomatillo jam.

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As we all know that ice cream doesn’t require an extra dessert tummy, because it simply fills in the gaps, this dessert featuring a light crispy fried pastry, topped with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream and drizzled with homemade tomatillo jam and sprinkled with toasted coconut fit the bill. Again a delicious combination of sweet and sour, creamy and crisp, with a delicious nuttiness from the coconut was all I needed to end the night. 

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Well that and the glass of smoky Mezcal I had with it. 

As expected, the food was good and, as is the key with most chains, is that they’re consistent. Whether you’re eating in Glasgow or Cornwall (or in this case London or Manchester), you expect a certain level of service and quality of food. The service certainly was excellent and easily on a par with the visit we made to the site in London. 

As for a verdict – I’m going to, as with any new venue, give them a few months to settle in and re-evaluate. Of course, this might mean I have to revisit spots like El Capo and Luck Lust.

You know, just for fairness.

Nothing to do with my liking for guacamole and chilli.

No sir.  

With thanks to Keeley for allowing me to attend as her plus one, and Wahaca for her invitation. As mentioned, this isn’t a review, though the food and service were great. I’m looking forward to visiting again in the future. 

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