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Sweet beets, soft goat cheese, candied pumpkin seeds, and jalapeno peppers over mixed lettuces with a hibiscus vinaigrette.

In a restaurant that serves delicious Mexican street food of all kinds, it’s kind of amazing that a healthy little salad would stand out as one of the starring dishes.  How could a salad be as good as  the Wahaca house favourite, a baked slow-cooked pork burrito that you eat with a knife and fork and is filled with divinely seasoned fall-off-the-bone meat, melted house made cheese, and black beans?  And what does this say about the tiny, authentic tacos filled with anything from carnitas to crispy fish and served in threes on homemade corn tortillas?

But this salad is what blew me away the most.  Sure, beet salads are everywhere lately, and pairing them with goat cheese seems to be par for the course.  Beet salads with goat cheese have in fact become so ubiquitous in the past few years that it wouldn’t surprise me if they showed up on a TGIF menu. So what makes this beet salad stand apart from all the other beet salads?

First are the beets themselves – carefully selected sweet beets that have been cooked to the point where they are both soft and firm and have retained their flavour.  Then there is the goat cheese, which is so creamy it is more like a dessert than a mere cheese.  Then there are the delectable candied pumpkin seeds, made on the premises, pairing wonderfully with the creamy goat cheese, soft fresh lettuces, and sweet beets–and adding the perfect crunch to the myriad of textures.  Overtop all of this is a delectable hibiscus dressing with a touch of mint, adding a surprisingly welcome addition to the lovely flavour the other elements have already created.

Wahaca (presumably the phonetic spelling of Oaxaca, Mexico’s culinary capitol) has several locations throughout London. It has been rated by Zagat as Best Mexican in the city.

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