There’s a certain cynicism that a restaurant invites when it grows up and starts franchising. It’s almost as if having street cred and being a successful chain are mutually exclusiveâ€”you can’t be both. Not even our own OC-bred surfer den, Wahoo’s Fish Taco, is immune to it. But the 24-year-old empireâ€”now stretching from the sandy beaches of Honolulu to the skyscrapers of Manhattanâ€”isn’t perfect. For this review, I sampled the food from as many different Wahoo’s locations as I could in a week, and the variability I experienced made a sentence on the franchising section of its website prophetic: “A franchise system is only as strong as its franchisees.”
One night at its Warner Avenue store in Huntington Beach, I had the most perfect plate of enchiladas. The rice was ethereally fluffy; the Cajun white beans were served so rocket-hot they burned my tongue; the waitstaff was friendly and chatty in a genuinely caring way. Full post.