A short one this time, and I won't disrupt the flow with any of my inept attempts at visual representation.
Wahaca, the Mexican restaurant chain working its way around London, has been around for 3 years, and boy it's popular. The lively queue at their original Covent Garden basement branch starts forming at around 6pm every night, as what appear to be local Londoners in their 20's and 30's add themselves to a waiting list for what can be up to an hour and a half. This was my 4th or 5th visit, so I thought it merited a mention.
Founded by Thomasina Miers, winner of Masterchef in 2005, this cheap and cheerful fast food joint offers her interpretation of Mexican street food, albeit standardized to make a profit and work on an industrial scale (much like Ping Pong and Leon do for Chinese and Southern Mediterranean cuisine).
The familiar tortilla dishes are plentiful: tacos, tostadas, quesadillas, enchilladas, and burritos. And the fillings and toppings are delicious, if a little repetitive: black beans, cheese, shredded pork, salsa, avocado, shredded beef... Everything is served at the same tepid temperature, so the occasional hit of fresh herb and chilli through the dense starchiness brings relief to what could come dangerously close to a bored palate.
But, with a final bill coming to £10 each, for 5 shared dishes including a shared plate of warm churros y chocolate to finish - and drinks - we had been fed generously with satisfying well-cooked grub, and left with little to complain about, cheered also that we were paying for produce that has been sourced locally and from sustainable sources (where possible). It's hardly rocket science to work out why people flood in, though I can't tell you how close it comes to authentic Mexican food, unless someone's offering a foodie research trip...