Wahoo's Fish Taco: No meat, no gluten, no problem
I have great sympathy for folks who can't digest gluten (as opposed to fakers who affect gluten allergies for attention), as well as those who can't or don't eat meat -- because they face very limited menu options if they dare to dine out. That makes Wahoo's Fish Taco a rare fish in the fast-food sea: It not only has a decent-sized roster of wheatless and meatless items, but they're actually good. And the signature fish tacos are a real treat this far from any ocean.
J. Wohletz Grilled white fish tacos from Wahoo's.
The first time I tried a Wahoo's fish taco, it came from a cold box in the fridge (roommate and new boyfriend were too busy going through that fuzzy-pink-stupid phase to eat their restaurant leftovers, so I did), and despite being a few hours old and chilly, the grilled salmon taco, smothered with some sort of addictive green sauce, was delicious. Hungry and remembering that taco, I headed through the April snow to the Wahoo's at 8100 Northfield Boulevard in Stapleton for dinner and a reminder that summer will come...some day. The restaurant was warm and pleasantly beach-bum-ish, with bumper-stickered walls and surfboards everywhere; a tasty aroma of corn tortillas and cilantro filled the air..
J. Wohletz Carne asada and mushroom tacos.
Wahoo's was founded in Costa Mesa, California, in 1988 by brothers Eduardo Lee, Mingo Lee and Wing Lam, who were apparently huge fans of Mexican food; they developed a menu with hints of Brazilan and Chinese fare, as well as an obvious surf-y Cali feel. The first store was on a street littered with surf -wear shops like Billabong, Quiksilver and Rip Curl, and surfers would cover the walls with stickers from their brands -- and the décor stuck.
Yet another thing I adore about fast-casual restaurants is the ease of ordering -- and the almost-immediate results. Wahoo's is set up so that you can pick tacos, enchiladas or rice bowls; choose your fillings and sides; grab a beer or a glass of wine if the mood; and then wait for your meal in a somewhat comfortable wooden booth or at a table. I ordered four tacos ($2.69 each) with carne asada, sauteed mushrooms, grilled salmon and grilled white fish -- I'm pretty sure it was cod, although the menu was non-specific; a shrimp enchilada ($2.94) and a platter with a cajun-grilled fish taco, fish taquitos, rice and black beans ($7.99). And then I made an impulse buy of a neatly-wrapped chocolate chip blondie ($1.35) made by local Chewy's Cookie Shoppe, LLC.