Waltham Forest Echo

Waltham Forest Echo

Local restaurant wins ‘top Mexican takeaway’ on BBC2

The husband and wife team have been in Wood Street's indoor market since 2017

Hero for Local restaurant wins ‘top Mexican takeaway’ on BBC2
Erik and Sandra on Britain's Top Takeaways (credit: BBC2/Ricochet)
By Victoria Munro 18 May 2022

A popular Walthamstow taqueria was crowned the UK’s “top Mexican takeaway” in a televised competition last night.A popular Walthamstow taqueria was crowned the UK’s “top Mexican takeaway” in a televised competition last night.

Homies on Donkeys, based in Wood Street’s indoor market for the last five years, competed against four other Mexican restaurants on BBC2’s new show: Britain’s Top Takeaways.Homies on Donkeys, based in Wood Street’s indoor market for the last five years, competed against four other Mexican restaurants on BBC2’s new show: Britain’s Top Takeaways.

The local favourite, run by husband and wife team Erik Bautista and Sandra Bello, went up against businesses from Fulham, Brighton, Hertfordshire and Nottingham.The local favourite, run by husband and wife team Erik Bautista and Sandra Bello, went up against businesses from Fulham, Brighton, Hertfordshire and Nottingham.

Every business had just half an hour to cook and box up takeaways for five families in Manchester, who then ranked the restaurants’ efforts from one to five.Every business had just half an hour to cook and box up takeaways for five families in Manchester, who then ranked the restaurants’ efforts from one to five.

All the competitors at the studio (credit: BBC2/Ricochet)All the competitors at the studio (credit: BBC2/Ricochet)

Sandra from Homies on Donkeys told the Echo they owe their success to the competition’s final round, worth double points, when they were asked to cook for an entire tennis club.Sandra from Homies on Donkeys told the Echo they owe their success to the competition’s final round, worth double points, when they were asked to cook for an entire tennis club.

She said: “It was crazy. When you watch food competitions, you always think ‘why are you doing that’ or ‘you forgot to do that’ but, in the moment, there’s just so much going on. She said: “It was crazy. When you watch food competitions, you always think ‘why are you doing that’ or ‘you forgot to do that’ but, in the moment, there’s just so much going on. 

“You’ve got three orders to cook and there’s a timer and you have to think about presentation and the food arriving hot. Tacos, in particular, do not travel well so it’s incredible that the atmosphere meant it was just really exciting.“You’ve got three orders to cook and there’s a timer and you have to think about presentation and the food arriving hot. Tacos, in particular, do not travel well so it’s incredible that the atmosphere meant it was just really exciting.

“It was a pretty amazing experience. Even though it was a competition, within the first 20 minutes of arriving at the studio, we were all laughing like we had known each other for years and we all helped each other with ingredients throughout.“It was a pretty amazing experience. Even though it was a competition, within the first 20 minutes of arriving at the studio, we were all laughing like we had known each other for years and we all helped each other with ingredients throughout.

“It was a really good opportunity to get to know what other Mexican restaurants are doing and all the food was really yummy, even from a father-daughter duo that had only just started.”“It was a really good opportunity to get to know what other Mexican restaurants are doing and all the food was really yummy, even from a father-daughter duo that had only just started.”

(Credit: BBC2/Ricochet)(Credit: BBC2/Ricochet)

When the couple first opened their restaurant in 2017, Sandra added, Mexican food was not nearly as popular in the UK as it is today.When the couple first opened their restaurant in 2017, Sandra added, Mexican food was not nearly as popular in the UK as it is today.

She added: “We were not sure if it was going to work because Wood Street was totally different then but we took a little risk and put our savings into it. We were really lucky because that year the new apartment blocks started being built and, within 18 months, the area had completely changed.She added: “We were not sure if it was going to work because Wood Street was totally different then but we took a little risk and put our savings into it. We were really lucky because that year the new apartment blocks started being built and, within 18 months, the area had completely changed.

“From the get-go, the reception from locals was amazing and it has continued to be that way all this time. People are supportive and keep telling their friends about us.”“From the get-go, the reception from locals was amazing and it has continued to be that way all this time. People are supportive and keep telling their friends about us.”

Sandra and Erik were both born in Mexico City and lived in Tihuana, a northern city close to California, before moving to London in 2014. Their specials board often features Baja cuisine, popular in California, due to their shared love of seafood.Sandra and Erik were both born in Mexico City and lived in Tihuana, a northern city close to California, before moving to London in 2014. Their specials board often features Baja cuisine, popular in California, due to their shared love of seafood.

(Credit: BBC2/Ricochet)(Credit: BBC2/Ricochet)

Unsurprisingly, their favourite dish on the menu - and one of the most popular - is the prawn taco, although the firm favourite among customers is the “Cochinito in Chipotle” pork taco.Unsurprisingly, their favourite dish on the menu - and one of the most popular - is the prawn taco, although the firm favourite among customers is the “Cochinito in Chipotle” pork taco.

After their success on national TV, the pair are hoping to see an influx of new customers in the next few weeks, which could fuel a long-awaited expansion.After their success on national TV, the pair are hoping to see an influx of new customers in the next few weeks, which could fuel a long-awaited expansion.

Sandra said: “We’ve really wanted to expand for a while because the market spot is pretty small and has restricted hours. My husband also wants to expand the menu as well.Sandra said: “We’ve really wanted to expand for a while because the market spot is pretty small and has restricted hours. My husband also wants to expand the menu as well.

“People are always asking us when we will get a spot outside the market and we’re hoping the show will let us do that, although we know we definitely want to stay in Walthamstow.”“People are always asking us when we will get a spot outside the market and we’re hoping the show will let us do that, although we know we definitely want to stay in Walthamstow.”

Visit Homies on Donkeys at Unit 38 Wood Street Indoor Market from 12-5pm Tuesday to Saturday or order them online here.Visit Homies on Donkeys at Unit 38 Wood Street Indoor Market from 12-5pm Tuesday to Saturday or order them online here.