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NEIGHBORHOOD EATERY

Wahoo's Fishes for Tacos, Not for Your Wallet

June 27, 1991|JON NALICK

After a hot day of shredding waves and soaking up sun, any surfer worth his wet suit knows where he can get good food and an ice-cold brew cheaply.

Not far from the sands of Newport Beach, Wahoo's Fish Taco in Costa Mesa serves up salads, sandwiches, burritos and, naturally, fish tacos. Although the clientele also includes cyclists, weightlifters and business executives, co-owner Ed Lee, who started the business with brother Wing Lam and two other partners in 1989, said that 60% of his business comes from surfers.

"We're geared to the surfer, and surfers really can't afford high-budget meals," he said.

And although the restaurant sacrifices atmosphere for affordability, the come-as-you-are crowd makes sure the place is always busy. On Fridays at lunch, a line often forms outside the squat, aqua-colored building to get into the no-frills dining room, decorated with plastic sharks, surfboards and colorful swimsuits.

The most popular menu item is the No. 2: two chicken or fish tacos, black beans and rice for $4.50. Other items include ribs in teriyaki sauce and steak sandwiches, at $5.50 apiece. Lighter fare includes chicken or fish salads and soup. For the health-conscious, the menus also offer dietary information about each entree.

If you go, try not to leave without tasting a Wahoo's fish taco, as this offends the sensibilities of the management.

"If you get out of here without trying one, that's sacrilegious," Lee said.

Domestic beer prices range from $1.50 to $1.75, and most imported beers, including Bohemia and Brahma from Brazil, cost $1.85. The restaurant also serves 25-ounce New Zealand Steinlager and Australian Fosters for $3.25.

Regulars at Wahoo's include professional surfers Danny Kwock and Richie Collins.

Wahoo's Fish Taco, 1862 Placentia Ave., Costa Mesa. Open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday, till 9 p.m. Sundays. (714) 631-3433.

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