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  • Writer's pictureSharon Wilson

Dia de Los Muertos at Wahaca

La Offrenda

Thomasina Miers was ahead of the street food curve. She won MasterChef in 2005 and followed her victory by co-founding Wahaca and writing her first solo authored book Mexican Food Made Simple (2011). Thomasina, a cook not a chef, showed us that Mexican fayre offered more than the refried beans, ‘Tex Mex’ and, heavens above, tequila slammers we had come to know in the UK. She presented the tastes, textures, sounds and colours of the Mexican market with the wide-eyed enthusiasm of a freshly returned gap year student.

Wahaca has survived where many other chains have folded perhaps due to the formulaic canteen style eating combined with considerable insight into sustainability. Mexican food is inherently peasant food where nothing can afford to be wasted. In 2016 Wahaca became the first carbon neutral restaurant in the UK and the menu is 45% vegetarian.

The biggest surprise on a recent visit to the St Andrews Square located Edinburgh eatery was how tasty the ‘Wahacamole’ is. Made with organic British fava beans, I like it more than the ubiquitous ‘guac’. It’s tangy, tasty and satisfying. Clearly a nod to avocados being the poster vegetable victim of a plant-based diet and hipster influencers. Smashed Hass or ‘green gold’ has caused deforestation, has a huge carbon footprint and is associated with drug cartels.

I visit Wahaca fairly regularly so don't have an issue with a PR invite to sample some dishes to promote Dia de Los Muertos, November 2nd . A passion fruit margarita is great but outshone on this occasion by the limited edition La Ofrenda - a freshly shaken mix of pomegranate, lime, triple sec and Gran Centenario Blanco finished with a volcanic lava salt rim and edible flowers. It packs a punch.

Lamb Barbacoa

Smoky succulent Lamb Barbacoa with gently pickled cucumber and mint crema is folded into floury tortillas and slow-cooked Beef Brisket and Buttermilk Chicken are complemented by trendy Hispi Cabbage which is British and served with spelt and a cashew nut mole. A price tag of £5.95 is welcome considering I have spotted it for five times as much on another Edinburgh menu. Mains are devoured greedily and followed by Black Coconut Ice-Cream and Churros. Desserts at Wahaca are a goal not an afterthought. Ice cream is ‘Jude’s’ , carbon negative and served with sugar-crisped pastry.

Servers appear casually knowledgeable about the menu and my only regret is that I can’t eat and drink more in one visit. Mr. Bite and I vow to return so we can sample more and leisurely sip some artisan tequilas.

You can eat and drink your fill affordably and ethically at Wahaca and there is not a refried bean in sight.

16 St Andrew Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2AU – 0131 202 6850

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