As Orlando's foodie scene has grown, one of the most fun additions has been the explosion in the food truck population. In my limited exploration into gluten-free options in and around town, Wako Taco's rolling taco operation impressed me with their delicious fare, friendly staff, and gluten-free awareness and accommodation.
In my time away from Central Florida this past year, Wako Taco has actually grown up and into a permanent location near Longwood's historic district north of town. Excited at the prospect to get enjoy their tacos whenever I'm craving them (and in air-conditioning too), my mom, sister and I decided to stop by for lunch to celebrate the end of the school year.
Entering, the restaurant has the same distinctive purple and read color scheme that made their truck so distinguishable. The menu, normally restricted to a few items, has expanded in variety, and most items are or can be made gluten-free friendly. The day I visited, the fryer was not a dedicated fryer. I was disappointed I could not try their house blue corn chips or a taquito, but was informed by the manager that they can make one fryer a dedicated one with advance notice. Call ahead the day before, or a couple hours before going to eat if you're in the mood for a fried concoction and they'll start up the dedicated fryer.
Craving their crazy-good tacos, I decided to go with my usual order: chicken tacos. They come in a trio of three and are on special for lunch, which is a great deal. I added on lettuce and pico de gallo, as the cheese and sour cream are off the table for me. As I ordered I asked if they'd use clean gloves and wipe off the tortilla press, and they had already beat me to the punch. Both made-from-scratch hot sauces that can be added after the fact at a sauce station are also gluten-free and dairy-free.
Despite the gulf in time since my last visit, I was pleased to find that the quality of the food has not dipped a bit. The chicken, spiced with adobo and peppers, is juicy and flavorful without being overwhelmingly hot. The lettuce was nice and fresh, and the tortillas (double wrapped- my favorite), were sturdy, yet soft. I tried the pineapple chile hot sauce, but was not really a fan because I have never liked the taste of pineapple. The pico de gallo however deserves extra praise. Fresh, flavorful, and delicious, it stands out as one of the best salsas I've ever encountered (and I've tasted a lot of salsas). It may have been rude, but I was totally sneaking spoonfuls of the salsa alone before my mom and sister dipped their chips in it.
While I enjoyed my meal I was happy to see a steady flow of local high school students, business people, and others streaming in to enjoy lunch. I really hope that Wako Taco continues to keep pace, and will become a long-time resident of Longwood. I know they've earned my family's loyalty on taco Tuesdays, or any other day of the week we want to get fast, fresh, fare. It's small, but committed businesses like this who are putting Orlando on the foodie map.
Update 6/30/2015: On a return visit, I called ahead to request a dedicated gluten-free fryer. When I arrived I took advantage of having the dedicated space and requested the chicken taquitos as well as their signature blue corn chips and pico de gallo. The taquitoes are fried to a crisp, a delicacy I have not enjoyed in a restaurant since going gluten-free. While they were tasty, they were a little heavy on my stomach (not a gluten reaction though). The blue chips are also fried to a perfect crisp, and feature a satisfying crunch and a delicious salty seasoning. The pico is fresh and flavorful, continuing to stand out from my first visit. Definitely don't miss the opportunity to take advantage of the luxury of a dedicated fryer!
Update 8/12/2015: Recently, Wako Taco has introduced a weekly tradition I can really get behind: fish taco Wednesdays. Made from grilled cod and topped with a red cabbage slaw (warning: contains eggs in the form of mayonnaise) the fish tacos come in a trio for $12. The fish, spicy and seasoned, works well with the slaw, which acts as a cooling agent. I normally hate all things mayo, but actually really liked the flavor combination of the tacos. I added on their homemade tomatillo and chili hot sauce for an added kick, which brought the tacos to a delicious new level. Again, Wako Taco earned my seal of approval!
The BasicsAddress: 480 S. Ronald Reagan Blvd, Longwood, FL 32750
Ideal For: Lunch, Dinner
Price: See chalkboard above
Accessibility: Wheelchair access is easy
Special Feature: Need some tacos to jazz up a party or event? Contact them for catering or to have you meal brought to you (see more info here).