That's a Wrap!

Longtime fave World Wide Wrappers serves up well-balanced, healthful fare

I've always felt a bit conflicted about wraps. They're not sandwiches; they're not burros—and all too often, they're packed with filler. And they can be a sloppy mess: The ingredients end up on the plate or, worse, all down the front of you. Finally, they are often built in assembly-line fashion without much care for the product.

But the wraps at World Wide Wrappers are none of those things. At this tiny Fourth Avenue shop, we found quality; healthful ingredients; a warm, friendly atmosphere; and probably the best smoothies we've had in years.

Located at Fourth Avenue and Sixth Street, WWW is currently caught up in all the work for the modern streetcar. Heavy equipment and lots of noise are right outside the front door.

But inside, it's another story. The tiny room is painted in bright colors from floor to ceiling; you feel welcome. There's plenty of free reading material sitting on the window ledge. Grab a window seat if you can, and watch the streetcar crew hard at work. It's pretty entertaining. It should be noted that on both visits, we watched the owners as they took time to water the flowers growing outside of the front door and in window boxes.

The care and attention to detail that is spent on the flowers carries through to the food. We actually had to wait a bit for our order, because the wraps were made one at a time instead of in a slapdash fashion. And I could swear we heard the sizzle of a grill in the back.

At first glance, there don't seem to be many differences among the 21 world-influenced wraps on the menu (all of which are available as bowls, too). Most come with a choice of a protein (chicken, steak or shrimp) and have lettuce, tomatoes, cheddar-jack cheese and either Spanish or jasmine rice.

But upon closer inspection, you notice subtle differences—guacamole in the Santa Fe, mango salsa in the Caribbean, a garlic-yogurt sauce in the Caribbean and the Tuscany. For the BBQ, the meat is simmered in the house barbecue sauce, and the Greek has a feta sauce. The teriyaki has ginger slaw, steamed veggies and the zesty house teriyaki sauce. Black olives can be found in both the Tuscany and Greek wraps. The wraps that come with beans (including the Santa Fe, Louisiana Cajun and Bombay veggie) offer either black beans or pinto beans. There are four veggie wraps. With a choice of four low-fat tortillas—plain, whole wheat, spinach-and-herbs and tomato-and-basil (jalapeño-and-cilantro was recently discontinued)—each wrap can be unique. And if the menu items don't catch your fancy, you can create your own.

There are a dozen smoothies to choose from, as well as fresh fruit and veggie juices (with enrichment powders too, if that's your thing).

We ordered the Santa Fe wrap with steak ($6.95), the Tuscany with shrimp ($7.20), the Louisiana Cajun, also with shrimp ($7.20), and the Caribbean Bowl with chicken ($7). We tried the plain and the spinach tortillas.

Our smoothie choices were the Berry Raspberry, the Citrus Quencher, the Jamaica and the Peachy Thrill (16 ounces, $4.60; 24 ounces, $5.85).

The theme that seems to run throughout at WWW is balance. Wraps are often stuffed with lots of rice, lots of lettuce, and very few of the other ingredients. Not so here. There is just the right amount of everything, from salsa to shrimp, chicken to cheese. And every wrap we had satisfied our hunger.

Then there's the preparation: All the ingredients were seasoned just right. The salsa in the Santa Fe, for example, wasn't so hot as to dominate. The chicken in the Caribbean was seasoned lightly, allowing the flavor of the chicken to come through. The sauces—guacamole and the garlic-yogurt—were mild yet full of flavor. Both types of beans were done just as they should be.

The Santa Fe comes with Spanish rice and a tomato salsa. There's also sour cream, guacamole and cheddar-jack cheese. The sour cream and guacamole were slightly chilled, a good sign that they hadn't been sitting out. Many of the same ingredients can be found in the Louisiana Cajun (all but the guacamole, in fact), but it was definitely different from the former.

The Tuscany has Spanish rice, the garlic-yogurt sauce and black olives. And while the other ingredients (lettuce, tomatoes and cheese) are found in many of the other wraps, this wrap stood on its own.

The Caribbean, which we had in bowl form, has light, jasmine rice; mango salsa; and the garlic-yogurt sauce. Despite the plastic-foam container, this was a pretty dish. Items are layered: lettuce, jasmine rice, protein, garlic-yogurt sauce, mango salsa, tomato and cheddar-jack cheese. I'm not a big fan of mango, but the salsa was a delight and brightened up the flavor of everything else.

The smoothies, too, were in balance. It's obvious that fresh fruit plays a role in the ones we tried. All of the flavors came together, and the texture in each was thick and creamy.

Desserts are limited: chocolate chip cookies ($2) and baklava ($2). The so-so cookies are not made in-house, but the baklava is. The pieces were small and flat, but the flavor popped with nutty, sweet goodness.

On both visits, we received superior service. It's no wonder that World Wide Wrappers has been open for 14 years, probably due to the friendly service and great food.

Sitting at a window table and watching all of the activity outside while eating a great wrap and sipping on a smoothie was dinner and a show—and both the food and the entertainment were fantastic.

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