Puffin Cafe serves taste of the tropics
Why: The Puffin Cafe has been in business since 2002. The restaurant is on the water by the boat launch in Washougal and operates year-round. Menu options are named with a tropical theme and offer mainly tacos, burgers, salads and sandwiches.Atmosphere: The restaurant resembles a house on the water decked out in an ocean theme. The main dining room has a big ship wheel incorporated into the space alongside a free-standing fireplace. Windows are similar to what one might find on an old flagship and the walls are painted in bright, cheerful, tropical colors. Walls are decorated with all manner of ocean-related items. Seating consists of tables topped with pennies under a gloss finish and basic, comfortable chairs.What I tried: My dining companion and I tried the fish tacos, jerk chicken tacos, and garlic pork tacos. All of the tacos came with a portion of fried okra and a homemade salsa to add to the tacos. We also sampled the tortilla chips with mango salsa and to drink, I had the Caribbean Cooler made with spiced and coconut rums, blue Curacao, creme de banana and pineapple juice, and my dining companion had the Suffering Bastard made with spiced rum, gin, vodka, tequila, blue Curacao, blackberry liqueur, sweet & sour and orange juice. We finished our meal with the key lime pie.Of the tacos, we enjoyed the fish tacos the most, followed by the jerk chicken and then the garlic pork. The fish tacos contained halibut, battered and fried, and pepper jack cheese, lettuce and a house garlic-lime cream sauce. A sweet and tangy housemade blackberry salsa was served alongside. The jerk chicken tacos were quite spicy and generously filled with shredded meat. These were served with a pineapple coconut salsa which complemented the spicy meat in the tacos. The shredded garlic pork tacos were also generously filled with meat, which had a subtle garlic presence. They were accompanied by a black bean salsa.Fried okra was exactly as I remember it from the last time I tried it.The mango salsa served with the tortilla chips contained large chopped ingredients not well-suited for dipping and the level of spice somewhat eclipsed the sweet of the mango. The key lime pie was a 50/50 experience — the filling tasted authentic but the crust did not have that classic graham cracker flavor.