Original OC: Wahoo's Fish Tacos
If you mention the word “Wahoo’s” here in Orange County, it's almost a given that the word will evoke a postive reaction (and perhaps even salivation). For some, it might be the bright robin’s egg blue color that dominates the color palette in their restaurants. For others, it might be the cacophony of surf and skate stickers that have been slapped onto windows, walls, and tables. For me, it’s the simple combination of fish tacos, rice and beans that never fails to satisfy.
Wahoo’s Fish Taco has 50 locations throughout California, Colorado, Texas and Hawaii, but we are proud to be the original home of this unique restaurant here in Orange County. The Wahoo’s brothers (Ed, Wing, and Mingo) actually grew up in San Paolo, Brazil and worked in their parents’ Chinese restaurant after school. In 1975, the family moved to Orange County and opened the famous Shanghai Pine Garden Chinese restaurant on beautiful Balboa Island. This restaurant soon became a hub of activity- even famous Newport Beach resident John Wayne dined there often!
The brothers enjoyed the proximity of Mexico and frequently headed south to surf. It was there that they were introduced to the fish taco, the delicious combination of charbroiled fish, salsa and tortillas. In 1988, the brothers followed in their parents’ footsteps and created a restaurant of their own. Their take on dining combined their love of surfing and food, and boasted an eclectic menu as well as a very relaxed vibe. The original restaurant was decorated with donations from surf companies headquartered in Orange County, and Wahoo’s soon had a regular following of customers.
Just like the restaurant chain itself, the menu has greatly expanded from its humble beginnings the original fish taco, although that continues to be one of their most popular items. There are burritos, salads, and rice & bean bowls that are topped with a choice of one of eight delicious meat or vegetarian fillings. One of my favorite items on the menu is the Maui Onion Rings- they're beer battered, require almost two hands to hold, and are crunchy on the outside and sweet on the inside.
Wahoo’s is a casual, fun restaurant where surfers, families, and businessmen all comfortably mingle together. I recently visited the original location in Costa Mesa and was pleasantly surprised to see one of the brothers, Wing, in there chatting with the employees. Wahoo's is a true OC orginal- I always feel so happy and at home here, and I know you will too!