The Mexican restaurant chain Wahaca — which celebrated a decade in the business earlier this year — have announced that they will open a new 120-cover restaurant and “test kitchen” on Tabernacle Street in Shoreditch on Monday 27 November.
“Wahaca’s new Shoreditch restaurant will act as an innovation platform to develop new ideas and recipes — with the ambition of taking many of the dishes created to the group’s restaurants around the UK,” they said in a statement.
Wahaca has a huge following across the UK, reportedly serving three million tacos a year (one million of their signature pork pibil) across their portfolio of restaurants. However, as the realities of Brexit hit the casual dining sector, Wahaca is a brand adapting and managing but not immune to new market challenges (Hi again, Brexit.) Eater London understands that the company is considering offloading some sites in central London. The Soho restaurant, on Wardour Street, one of the company’s earliest recently underwent a rent review — it faces a £1m increase in rent and rates per annum.
However, in a bid to improve from within, the Shoreditch restaurant will introduce a digital bill tablet, which will allow guests to offer immediate feedback on the dishes they ordered. It is understood that they will formally implement the technology platform Yumpingo which they trialled earlier this year.
Recent trips to Mexico City, Oaxaca and the Yucatan have allowed Miers and her team to “bring to life their interpretations of contemporary Mexican cooking.” There’ll be those Wahaca classics (including the pork pibil tacos) as well as a set of new menu items: blackened cauliflower tacos with cashew nut mole’ (£4.50) and Market Boards for sharing (from £10.95), including whole roast sea bream with al ajillo butter and kohlrabi slaw; plus a range of 21 mezcals and tequilas on the new drinks list.
Tommi Miers said: “Wahaca has always been at the forefront of innovation, bringing new Mexican dishes to the UK, and after ten years we’re hugely excited to have this new Test Kitchen to help us continue to push the boundaries and find new ways to explore the incredible variety of vibrant flavours and ingredients from Mexico’s extraordinary range of cuisines.”
London, for a long time uniquely light on Mexican restaurants, last year underwent a boom of sorts — one that sprung Santo Remedio, Breddos, Del 74, Corazon and Bad Sports and El Pastor, whose USP was house made, nixtamalized corn tortillas. Miers says that she and her team are collaborating with El Blanco Niño (an Irish company making “authentic corn tortillas”) to produce a “bespoke, traditionally-made nixtamalized corn tortilla that uses non-GMO corn and is naturally gluten free.”
The new restaurant will seat 120 with a space laid out over two levels, with a central communal table and an open kitchen. Street art murals from Lelo, a renowned street artist from Zaachila in Oaxaca, Mexico will feature on the walls.
Wahaca, which launched in Covent Garden in 2007, currently operates 25 restaurants across the UK — 16 of which (including this new Shoreditch site) are in London.