Jane Stern: Blue Wave Taco brings 'surfer food' to Darien
Honestly I can’t think of a more unlikely pairing then surfer food in Darien. I am sure there are some surfers on the placid shores of Long Island Sound, but having traveled extensively in Southern California and after living a while on the Mexican border, I can see there is a distinct lack of hardcore “surf culture” here.
Blue Wave Taco tries to fill this gap. I was delighted to momentarily leave the “pink and green” country club vibe of Darien and immerse myself in memories of surf culture. It has been decades since I used the term “hodad” (a non surfer who hangs out at the beach), “sponger” ( a derogatory term for body boarder), “hang 10” (riding with all your toes over the front of the board) and “Men in Gray Suits” (sharks). Surf culture was once a small cultural blip put on the map by late writer Tom Wolfe in his essay, “The Pump House Gang.” It has now become an international big business, yet the surfer lifestyle retains its mystique and allure. Who doesn’t want to be Laird Hamilton, or at least hang out with him?
Blue Wave Taco is in a small, white building with a posted menu and a drive-through window. It is a clean, appetizing place decorated in shades of white and blue with some surfboards and Polynesian statues outside. The basic menu items are tacos, burritos and quesadillas. Unlike the true Mexican food I have tried in SoCal, there are no cow tongues, no tripe or fried grasshoppers, no baby goat and no peppers so hot you fall to your knees in ecstasy or horror.
There are five kinds of tacos to choose from. I ordered one of each. I also asked for them loaded with the array of add-ons: cheddar, guacamole, onion, pico de gallo and sour cream. These are not huge overstuffed tacos. so without the flourishes they seemed rather sparse.
The food items on the menu have cute names. You can try the Bromigo, the Rooster, the Pigdog, the Baja or the Reefer. There is a Big Kahuna Burrito, a Righteous Quesadilla and a “Smoking Bowl,” which is not part of a pipe but your choice of meat over rice. The meat choices are beef, pork, chicken and shrimp. You can get corn or flour tortillas.
I ate here with one of my favorite dining companions, a 6-foot-4 guy who cuts my lawn and also makes some of the best BBQ on the planet. He has never traveled to far flung places nor eaten Mexican food in its indigenous setting, but intuitively he knew the black beans in his burrito were undercooked and under-seasoned. His take was that this was a very “Anglo” version of south-of-the-border cuisine. I agreed with his pronouncement.
In his outsized workingman’s hands, the tacos looked dinky. Worried he would starve to death, I was happy when he unwrapped the Big Kahuna Burrito. This was a better fit. He had ordered pork rolled with rice, pinto beans, cheddar and romaine. As he laid waste to everything set before him I nibbled daintily on my “Veggin’ Out Burrito,” a flour tortilla wrapped around plantains, black beans and pico de gallo. Nostalgically, I remembered the good old days when I could lay waste to a three-course meal and then go out for pizza.
I enjoyed the food at Blue Wave Taco, but I would not recommend it to anyone who likes their Mexican food down and dirty. Blue Wave is more like Taco Bell than the funky carts found in the rougher neighborhoods of SoCal. But not everyone is a purist. There would not be a zillion Taco Bell franchises if this style of low-key Mexican food were not wildly popular.
I went through the takeout window at Blue Wave Taco twice on two different days. Both times I must say that the voice on the other end of the loud speaker was more courteous the many waiters I have encountered in high-end restaurants. The voice was well spoken, polite and helpful. It was a lovely experience except for the fact that everything in the bag that was handed to me when I paid was not what I ordered.
The second time through the drive I got what I asked for. Again the order taker could not have been more well spoken or pleasant. Yes, on my first visit I found it annoying to open the bag and find it filled with the wrong food, but politeness goes a long way in soothing any situation. If a taco place in Darien is not polite, then the world is indeed coming to an end and with that said there are many days I would rather have gracious social interactions then smokin’ hot salsa.
Jane Stern, a Ridgefield resident, coauthored the popular “Roadfood” guidebook series with Michael Stern.
Blue Wave Taco
205 Boston Post Road, Darien