Wahaca in Covent Garden is a great spot in town for somewhere to go if you're in the mood to share dishes, order more than one thing and sip on Mojitos.
The restaurant (both the Covent Garden and Westfield branches) is the vision of Thomasina Miers; food author, presenter of Channel 4's Wild Gourmets and winner of MasterChef in 2005. Miers opened it in 2007 and in the three years it's been going, I've only just been. The incentive is to experience a Mexican market-style of fresh food and cooking in three different ways:
1) light dishes to snack on while enjoying the drinks menu
2) larger meals all to yourself
3) or antojitos which are smaller dishes designed for sharing
When I went along with a couple of friends recently, we each chose to order a few antojitos to share. They're split into the different ways to cook with tortillas; tacos, tostadas, quesadillas, taquitos and burritos, all of which have their own choice of fillings.
Plus there are a variety of extra side dishes like their green rice (with coriander, garlic and onion), frijoles (black bean curd with cheese or chorizzo toppings) and spicy coleslaw. These come in some little terracotta ramekins and are enough to share between two people.
Green Rice & Frijoles with cheese
There's even the authentic puddings menu including Churros; doughnut-like sticks which are found across Mexico as a common pastry snack. The name comes from the Churro breed of sheep in Spain, as the shape resembles their horns. Different variations on the ingredients depend on which country you're in and Wahaca have obviously taken the Mexican way to enjoy them, which is with hot dipping chocolate. They're also coated with cinnamon and sugar to balance the bitter dark chocolate.
The prices are really reasonable for the quality of the food and amount you get. The menu advises that if you want the antojitos it's best to order 3 per person. I'd say if you're fairly hungry this is fine but if you're quite ravenous, go for 4!
A bar is situated near the waiting area which serves a combination of customers waiting for the next available table and people who just fancy a drink and some snacks. The design of the restaurant is a mixture of modern and authentic market with benches paired with chairs for the seating, an open kitchen at the back of the restaurant. There's also borrowed elements of Mexican marketplaces where they've recycled reclaimed timber for the walls and kitchen counters.
There are also some little packets in large baskets near the entrance and stairwell which look like you're generic complimentary matchsticks...but they're actually sachets of chilli seed so you can grow your own at home! Nice touch. I'm currently giving them a go myself. As they've only just started to sprout it doesn't look all that interesting yet. But I'll update with pictures of their progress soon enough!
The chillies have begun to sprout. Fingers crossed they'll do well!