Wahoo’s Fish Taco dives into a refresh for 35th anniversary

Wahoo’s Fish Taco celebrates 35 years in Southern California with a revamped store design and refreshed logo.
(Courtesy of Wahoo’s Fish Taco)

When Wing Lam first launched Wahoo’s Fish Taco in 1988 with his two brothers and business partners Ed Lee and Mingo Lee, there were two destinations surfers cared about.

“The right of passage for surf trips in the ’80s was two destinations: Mexico and Hawaii,” said Lam. “Both of those places had what I call local grub. Mexico having fish tacos and Hawaii having lunch plate specials.”

Their idea was to recreate the food, fun and energy captured before and after surf sessions on these trips. The concept also drew inspiration from the trio’s childhood in Brazil and years spent working in their family’s Chinese restaurant. This year, the Southern California-based legacy chain, known for fish tacos and Pacific-influenced food, celebrates 35 years of business with a refreshed brand image Lam said is more reflective of who they are today.


“We started Wahoo’s when we were much younger, and we’ve come to realize that our original ‘college dorm room’ aesthetic no longer fits the brand,” said Lam.

The restaurant remodel is part of the new image Wahoo’s is cultivating, with fully renovated interiors. Three Orange County locations, including Huntington Beach on Main Street, Costa Mesa on Placentia Avenue and Tustin on Newport Avenue have completed their renovations, and four more are on track to finish renovations by the end of the year. Updated floors and countertops and modern décor are just some of the changes regular diners might notice.

In the past, Wahoo’s depended on surf, skate and other action sports memorabilia to decorate its walls along with haphazardly placed stickers that emulated gear showing off all the places it had been.

“As we would get it, we would throw it up on the wall and find the space for it,” said Lam.

While Lam said the company still values the surf and skate community and the spirit of getting away, the redesign aims to organize some of the chaos.

A renovated Wahoo's Fish Taco location in Orange County.
A renovated Wahoo’s Fish Taco location in Orange County.
(Courtesy of Wahoo’s Fish Taco)

“We still wanted to have this cool, original, authentic stuff people from the action sports industry were bringing to us, but organize it,” said Lam. “I love the word that museums use: curated.”

The logo has also undergone a redesign with a new tagline, “Living the Wahoo’s Way,” a sentiment that marketing manager Cindy Lee said ushers Wahoo’s into the future.

“Led by a more mature brand aesthetic, but underpinned by the same brand spirit, we’re excited to introduce and reintroduce Wahoo’s to current and future generations,” said Lee, who is married to co-founder Mingo Lee.

For those concerned that their favorite menu item might get lost to the revamp, fear not. Items like the Baja Rolls may not be listed on the menu any longer, but Lam said that doesn’t mean they are gone forever.

“Our Baja Rolls, because they take a little bit of time to make and are labor intensive, have gone off the menu, but we have all the ingredients there,” Lam said. “If you call us the day before and let us know you’re coming in for dinner we can make it for you.”

Of course, Lam said, fish taco fans can always explore other parts of the menu to find a new favorite.

“If you like the Baja Rolls, you should try our new potato tacos,” said Lam.