Flatiron Lunch: Our First (And Second) Taste of Wahoo’s Fish Tacos
Every Friday we go south of the ML boundaries in search of a delicious lunch. Sometimes it’s Murray Hill south or the Flatiron District, sometimes Gramercy and everything in between- but we just like to call it Flatiron Lunch.
As promised last week, I ate at the newly open Wahoo’s Fish Taco (on Park Ave. btw 24+25th, and am pleased to report that it does not disappoint! I even went twice to be sure… uh… you know. For science.
As you may know, Wahoo’s is a California based mini-chain that is known primarily for their fish tacos, but has branched out into other Mexican-inspired items as well. Taking inspiration from their original location in Southern California, Wahoo’s interior is covered by surf-boards, skate-boards, snow-boards, and other “boards” I can’t identify, not to mention surf-inspired paraphernalia like stickers and posters. I am sure that at the original location this “décor” was haphazard and happened naturally; I would be interested to know how much planning went into the décor at our Wahoo’s. They even covered the ceiling with reeds, I think to give the illusion you are in a beach hut…not sure if it works, but better than nothing.
The ordering works like this: you walk in (that is if you can get in the door…the line has been to the door for opening week, so I recommend going during off times at least for while) to the back right of the restaurant to get on line to place your order at the registers. If you remember, grab a menu at the door, because the wall menu while you are on line is a bit confusing and hard to read until you are up close. If you want your order “to go”, you give a name and loiter near the registers. If you want it “to stay” and can find a seat (use your best New York hovering skills for this one), they will give you a number to put on your table. Note: They sit very low on the table, so make sure the food runners can see it or it will take longer for them to find you (read: for you to get your food.) You can also try to call in your order for pick-up or delivery at the number below.
On my first trip, I ordered as traditionally as possible with a two taco combo with grilled fish, white rice and black beans (no fancy preparations here). I got my order to go and took it a block to Madison Sq. Park and sat on a bench. Even though it was a little brisk outside, it felt great to sit in the sun and munch on fish tacos. Lunch-ers remember this combo come spring: fish tacos & park bench.
I noticed a hefty amount of fish (I have no doubt you all will let us know if this changes as time passes). The rice was properly prepared with the addition of what looked and tasted to me like cracked black pepper. Considering I add fresh pepper to toast, I thought this was awesome. The black beans were completely average. I was utterly blown away by the cilantro green sauce that seems to automatically come with the combos. I am still strategizing about how to have a constant supply of this stuff in my fridge.
On my next trip, I brought two friends so I could taste a few more things. This time, I tried a pork carnitas bowl with brown rice and cajun beans, aka white beans with lots of seasoning. For ordering purposes, they entered this order as the Kalua Pig Bowl without the teriyaki sauce. For just over $9, I thought this was a good portion of rice, beans and pork. Of course, I smothered it in their signature green cilantro sauce.
My friend got the two taco combo but decided to mix and match his taco fillings (apparently, that is allowed). So he had one taco with plain grilled fish and one Cajun fish. We both agreed that the traditional grilled fish was better – you could actually taste the fish, and it was a great compliment to the green sauce. The Cajun seasoning seemed to overpower the white fish. He also noticed that the corn tortillas they use have a really nice corn-y taste, something I also tasted when I ate my taco combo in the park.
My other friend got a single carnitas taco, which at $2.99, is also a large portion. We also decided to try their chips, salsa and guacamole. The chips looked to me like they were fresh tortillas cut and fried in house, or they could be just good lookalikes. The guac was average, but got a bit better when I squeezed some lime in it. I didn’t really eat the salsa at all, since it is was just a basic pico de gallo.
We also got a little side of the Mr. Lee’s sauce, which according to the signage is the founders’ father’s recipe. That business is SPICY. Use sparingly.
I think the lines at Wahoo’s will continue for a while since the food is delicious, prices are reasonable, portions are sizeable, and it tastes so different from most of what you get in New York. Also with the arrival of spring, I hope that people will follow my advice and eat in the park. Food tastes better that way.
The + (What somebody who likes this place would say)
- Finally, good fish tacos in NYC!
- Large portions at a reasonable price
- I am completely addicted to the green sauce.
The – (What somebody who doesn’t like this place would say)
- It isn’t as good as the original (Californians, I’m looking at you!)
- The line is at/out the door and I won’t wait that long
- Too similar to the other chains (Chipotle, Qdoba, Baja Fresh)
Wahoo’s Fish Taco, 333 Park Ave. (btw. 24 and 25), 212-466-3330