Review: The Happy Hooker serves fresh fish tacos from a seafood shack on Dundas West

Review: The Happy Hooker serves fresh fish tacos from a seafood shack on Dundas West

(Image: Gizelle Lau)
Review: The Happy Hooker (Image: Gizelle Lau)
 

The Happy Hooker ★½
887 Dundas St. W., 647-769-4243

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Chef Attilio Pugliese has opened a new seafood shack specializing in fish tacos—perfect, plump fish tacos. He piles soft corn tortillas with crisp beer-battered grouper, breaded baja or grilled shrimp and tops them with lime crèma, smoky house chipotle sauce and bright, crunchy shredded cabbage. The chalkboard menu—branded with Ocean Wise’s stamp of sustainability—has a few other options, too, like an ersatz corn dog made of breaded, fried ground shrimp and served with sweet-and-sour fish sauce. It’s a cheeky combination of a fairground snack and Vietnamese sugarcane shrimp. Fish and chip brings an astonishingly tender hunk of fried grouper, but the thin-cut fries alongside are burnt. Marlin shows up both taxidermied outside the door and chopped into a lime-zinged patty for a fine fish sandwich. The room resembles a beach-side surf hut, with plywood tables, chem-lab stools and ’90s R&B on the stereo; it’s the sort of place where it’s not only okay to have taco grease dribbling down your chin, but expected. Unlicensed.