Wako Taco

Wako Taco (http://www.wakotaco.com/web/) is a casual Tex-Mex restaurant on Ronald Reagan Boulevard in Longwood, located directly next door to Hourglass Brewing, a huge brewery and 240-seat taproom that always has 40+ beers on tap, in very cool, nerd-chic surroundings.  There are a few tables at Wako Taco, but the two establishments are connected by a doorway, allowing people to bring Wako Taco’s delicious food into the huge brewery to enjoy there.

I think I first discovered Wako Taco in 2016, and I’m ashamed I haven’t gotten around to reviewing it yet, since I have always been a fan.  For one thing, I love the lucha libre (Mexican wrestling) mask motif, in its logo and decorations.  I hadn’t been in for quite some time, and they have since displayed all kinds of colorful masks worn by different luchadores… and they are all for sale!  (Yes, I was tempted.  No, I didn’t buy one.  This time.)  I couldn’t help but think of the very cool El Santo Taqueria I visited on Miami’s Calle Ocho, in the heart of Little Havana, back in 2019.   That place was so rad, especially with how hard they went with the lucha libre theming, but I greatly prefer the food at Wako Taco.
Note that the Wako Taco folks also displayed a Masters of the Universe Castle Greyskull on the top left shelf, along with He-Man and Skeletor Funko Pops.  That was never my thing, not as a kid nor as a nerdy adult collector, but I appreciate anyone’s cool collections.

You can read the menu online, but I took shots of the menu on large screens above the counter where you order, in part to show off the continuing lucha libre mask theming.  You can get larger images of the menu if you right-click these photos and open them in new tabs.

Here’s the other side:

On my first visit to Wako Taco (as well as all my subsequent visits, come to think of it), I ordered the finest chimichanga ($13.75) of my life.  Look at this work of art.  Even taken years ago on an older, much crappier phone camera, it’s still beautiful and beguiling.  For the uninitiated, a chimichanga is a deep-fried burrito.  I just love the golden crispiness of the deep-fried flour tortilla that becomes a shell, encasing the meat, beans, cheese, and rice inside.  It is topped with diced tomatoes, queso, and drizzles of guacamole and sour cream.  You can get your choice of meats, and this photo above contained my usual, spicy pulled puerco pibil.

Below you can see my most recent chimichanga.  Better camera, worse photo.  It was totally my mistake for trying ground beef instead of the superb pibil pork this time, and the green bell peppers chopped up on top would have been so much better sautéed, fajita-style, as they have been on all my past visits.  This was an anomaly, I can assure you.  It was still good, don’t get me wrong, but you never forget your first time.

This sandwich below is called the Dirty Concha ($9), and it contains Wako Taco’s outstanding puerco pibil and crunchy, pink pickled red onions on a sweet roll called a concha, kind of a neat alternative to a typical Mexican torta sandwich on a bolillo roll.  Believe it or not, that pink stuff you’re seeing on top of the bun is sweet, sticky sugar stripes.  It was a sandwich full of contrasts, between the piquant pibil, the tangy and slightly sweet pickled onions, the “habanero drizzle” I didn’t realize was there (but it would explain how surprisingly spicy the sandwich was, in a good way), and the sweet bun.   It also came with a side of blue corn chips that could have used a little more salt, but were fine.  I added a few to the sandwich to add a crunch factor to all those other amazing ingenious ingredients.

Below is another favorite I usually add onto my order, the namesake Wako Taco ($3.30), a breaded, fried, cheese-stuffed jalapeño topped with queso, refried beans, pico de gallo salsa, and sliced jalapeño, served in a soft flour tortilla.  I can’t leave without one of these things!

And this is a new discovery, a hibiscus tinga ($4.80).  Forgive the bad lighting, but this is a snack of actual hibiscus flowers, sautéed with onions and tomatoes and served in a soft flour tortilla.  The menu said it would be topped with grilled cactus (nopales, which sound about as weird as eating hibiscus, although both are tasty), but I didn’t notice no nopales.   It is a tasty dish for vegetarians and carnivores alike, though.

Wako Taco also has aguas frescas, those refreshing, non-carbonated, non-alcoholic drinks I love to see at any Mexican restaurant (and judge the ones that don’t have them).  On my most recent visit, they had horchata (creamy rice milk flavored with cinnamon and vanilla, so great for cutting the heat after a spicy bite) and jamaica (pronounced “ha-MY-kuh,” usually a dark red or purplish color, flavored with hibiscus flowers and lots of sugar).  I ordered an horchata, but I was sad they didn’t have piña (pineapple), a favorite flavor from past visits.  Sometimes I would even swing by and grab a piña agua fresca while running errands on hot days when I wasn’t ordering any food.

But those times were few and far between, because I find it hard to be in the neighborhood of Wako Taco (sometimes visiting Acme Superstore, Longwood’s museum-like comic book and collectible toy store) and not stopping by for a snack or a whole damn meal.  Orlando has no shortage of awesome and authentic Mexican restaurants, but if you like Tex-Mex, and especially chimichangas, or if you like hanging out at breweries while you eat, this is definitely the place for you.

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