It’s rare that a restaurant exceeds your expectations. Let alone your whole family’s. We had a fab lunch at Wahaca in Brighton for the first time last week. We usually grab pizza in Brighton if we’re having lunch out with the girls. It’s the safe option. We’ve fallen into the old happy kids / happy parents trap. But after a few people pointed to Wahaca as a great place to take kids, we decided to give it a whirl.
The restaurant hit the spot nicely for all the family. The Husband, The Big One, The Little One: they all want to go back to Whackers. Which is great news for me because I love Mexican food. And after last week’s lunch, I want to go back too.
Everything’s well considered: from the locally inspired decor to post-its showing specials; super heavy bespoke sharing plates to privacy providing plant screens between booths.
The restaurant is made up of two areas: the bar and the main restaurant.
The bar area’s fab if you have to wait for a table. The kids loved the foosball table and there’s a huge range of drinks to choose from at the bar.
It’s a big space inside the restaurant with lots of different kinds of tables, chairs, booths and benches. We lucked out with a huge booth table in the middle. The seats were unbelievably comfortable, a low hanging light cast a cosy glow over the table, sharing plates were neatly piled in the middle, swiftly followed by tap water in a repurposed tequila bottle.
Our waitress immediately issued the girls with kids’ menus to colour in and a pot of crayons. We went from exciting bar to calm dining mode in a flash. The girls were happy to start colouring, sip water, explore the plants behind us and have a look at the menu. Happy days.
The restaurant has a very relaxed vibe. Which I love. The more relaxed with kids the better. It just makes everything easier.
The Food and Drink
The menu has plenty of choice without being overwhelming: nibbles, tapas style street food, larger plates, salads and bowls. All dishes are cooked to order which means different plates come at different times. Some love this, some hate it. It worked for us.
There are lots of different drinks – including stacks of boozy options and all the tequila you could ever want to slam. If you’re like me, teetotal, there are plenty of grown-up soft options too. I had a hibiscus and passionfruit cooler, which was super sweet and delicious; the Big One had a hibiscus flower agua fresca, a big hit. The other two had standard big brand soft drinks.
We started with Mexico City nachos to share: a huge plate of nachos with Trealy Farm chorizo, cheese sauce, tomatillo & avocado salsas. Chorizo is genius on cheesy nachos. There was a fabulous yet incredibly spicy salsa on top. I managed to get a really spicy bit, which took me by surprise. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stop the children digging in hungrily. Let’s just say, we all had a lesson in how to deal with eating something unexpectedly spicy!
Kids can build their own tacos or opt for toasted quesadilla sandwiches, which come with a side of nachos, veg sticks and a little dish of guacamole. I love that kids’ food comes with a variety of veg here.
The girls chose grilled cheese quesadillas. The Big One doesn’t like raw vegetables or guacamole although she demolished her quesadilla and nachos. On the other hand, the Little One really enjoyed dipping the crudités in guacamole and polished off most of the veggies. Cucumber is usually rejected at home. But apparently it’s super yummy smothered in guacamole. A lesson for all.
I couldn’t decide between a selection of small plates or one bigger plate. In the end I plumped for the grilled chicken enchilada.
This is a hot dish of gooey goodness: my kinda comfort food. Packed with flavour, stacks of cheese, rice and chicken. The side salad was awesome too. Served in a little bowl with a gorgeous dressing, something refreshing and perfectly complimentary to the enchilada. And again, a celebration of fresh food! Bravo.
The Husband had Achiote Chicken, which he really enjoyed. His main observation was just how fresh it tasted. The chicken was well marinated and the pink pickled onions delish.
We went for a double round of churros with chocolate dipping sauce to share. The girls had scoops of ice cream as well. I was impressed that they don’t just trot out the usual strawberry, vanilla and chocolate for kids – they offer salted caramel and black coconut too.
I finished off with coffee. It was strong, nicely presented and served with spicy chilli chocolate. I’m not sure what the chocolate was like because I didn’t get a look in. The Big One snaffled it and then spat it into a tissue. Too spicy.
The girls necked their free babycinos. The perfect end to a lovely family meal out.
Service was solid. They know what they’re doing. Friendly, helpful, efficient. Not overly invested. Just right.
The Verdict: Wahaca Brighton
Wahaca is one of the most child-friendly restaurants we’ve eaten in. Not only have the girls asked to go back to Whackers but they insisted on toasted cheese quesadillas for tea after school one afternoon. Last week’s lunch made a big impression; I’m so chuffed we braved something new.
And there was plenty to love for grown-ups too. It’s not just a happy kids / happy parents place. It’s way more authentic in it’s something for everyone / crowd-pleasing / no compromises way.
Wahaca ticks all our boxes. And we had fun. This is an incredibly easy place to eat out with kids.
Wahaca, you’re a cracker!
Wahaca launch their Christmas menu this weekend, which includes the infamous Mince Pie Empanada with brandy butter ice cream, alongside the new Turkey & Stuffing Taquito special accompanied by Wahaca’s Grilled Hispi Cabbage. We can’t wait to head back from some festive Mexican comfort food before we wave adios to 2020.
Wahaca Brighton is one of many family-friendly restaurants featured in Sussex Born & Fed Gold. Sussex Born & Fed Gold is the Ultimate Guide to family-friendly eating in Brighton & Sussex where no-one has to compromise. And it’s coming very soon. Don’t forget to tag posts of your own top family eating out experiences with #SussexGold🏅with a chance to be featured on our social pages.
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