Street Food seems to be all the rage at the moment and over the next few weeks, we'll be delving in to find some of the must visit places across Scotland offering something a little different with a lot of flavour. We begin our journey, like many, in Edinburgh and when you think street food, Wahaca certainly comes to mind.
Wahaca was born in 2007 from a love of fresh, honest Mexican Market food. First inspired by Thomasina Miers’ travels to the country and her stint living in Mexico City, she and co-founder Mark Selby later set about recreating Mexico’s vibrant flavours and social dining culture at home in the UK with fresh and exciting dishes made for sharing, as per the gregarious style of Mexican eating.
As lockdown eased last week, we noticed some additions to their menu that just could not be ignored. In fact, one such addition, the cricket salsa certainly jumps out at you from first glance.
Don’t worry though, the crickets have been ground up with pumpkin seeds along with a blend of authentic Mexican spices, guajillo, arbol and jalapeño chillies, to create a smooth and unique salsa – which surprisingly tastes like sesame according to our taster. It had a nice heat which made it one of the spiciest dishes they tried but was not overpowering. Although the salsa was not on the menu, the server was quick to bring it to them along with a plate of nachos.
Crickets are possibly one of the most sustainable ingredients on the planet, so Wahaca continues its reputation as an incredibly sustainable restaurant. (It is the first one to be carbon neutral in the UK.) Wahaca’s co-founder Thomasina Miers said: “Crickets are a brilliantly sustainable way to add protein to our diets and are eaten in Mexico as bar snacks, on guacamole, in salsas and even coated in chocolate. We’ve experimented with them in the past at Wahaca, so we’re delighted to have them back on our menu for the summer, this time in a thoroughly delicious pipian, or pumpkin seed salsa, full of spices and aromatics. We hope that our guests will be up for trying them if they haven’t had the pleasure before!” Crickets are rich in protein and tasty to boot, so this is a definite summer surprise which you should quickly go try – for a limited time, it’s on the house!
Another special Wahaca have created is a wonderful twist to a traditional Mexican dish: the chargilled asparagus tacos (£6.25). It is currently asparagus season, so these are only available for six weeks to keep in line with the restaurants’ sustainable principles. They have tender and caramelised stems which are combined with either their new cricket salsa or spicy habanero mayo if you are vegetarian or simply not up to eating crickets.
Of course, a summer special isn’t complete without a cocktail. Wahaca’s new Summer Spritz (£8.25) is a delightful blend of Aperol, grapefruit, prosecco and 100% pure agave tequila. This Mexican twist on a traditional spritz is the perfect summer cocktail to enjoy indoors or under the summer sun.
The traditional menu looks and tastes exquisite too! There is a wonderfully wide range of tacos, quesadillas and burritos, mixed with other Mexican street food dishes. While the prices may seem a little high for the portion, it is worth more in flavour. Our taster tried the veggie nachos with flavours that must be admired as Wahaca managed to avoid the homemade mistake of too much cheese, and instead delicately balanced the flavours to perfection. Our tasters opted for the mains to be a plethora of small dishes; grilled halloumi ‘Al Pator’ tacos, chargrilled steak and cheese tacos, slow-cooked beef brisket tacos, (new) hibiscus-glazed aubergine tacos, cheese & chilli croquettes, and (new) summer bean & feta tostadas. They highly recommend the cheese and chilli croquettes which surpassed all expectations. One of the worries about visiting a Mexican themed restaurant is that the cuisine might be too spicy, blowing out your taste buds, however this was not the case - these dishes were delicious and well-balanced with the flavour of the spice without the heat. The very friendly servers explained that the dishes would be brought out randomly when they were ready, and the overall ambience was amazing.
Finally, the desserts. Traditional Mexican churros with a decent size cup of caramel sauce on the side and a chocolate and pecan brownie served with salted caramel ice cream and dulce de leche sauce. A beautifully rich complement to the fantastic servings before.
The Wahaca restaurant in Edinburgh is based on St. Andrew Street and as a central location, it’s perfect for lunch time or on a weekend to enjoy the capital’s sights. We recommend booking in advance though to avoid disappointment.