Wednesday, March 17, 2010
2625 Piedmont Rd. NE, Atlanta GA www.cocolocoatlanta.com
Last night my friend Kevin and I had dinner at Coco Loco. Coco Loco opened in 1988 and claims to serve Atlanta's best Cuban food. It's located in a shopping center near the intersection of Piedmont and Sydney Marcus.
I have to begin this review with a story. Several years ago I worked with a guy named Carlos who had recently immigrated from Cuba. I asked him where I could find authentic, delicious Cuban food in Atlanta. He deadpanned, "Miami." I wasn't going to let it go that easily, and said that there must be some place that lived up to his standards, and asked if he had been to Havana Sandwich Shop, formerly on Buford Hwy.
"The Cuban sandwiches are great there," I explained. "They're served with black beans with onions and a side of yellow rice with tomatoes."
"There's no such thing in Cuba as a Cuban sandwich," he replied. "And Cubans would never eat yellow rice with tomatoes on top. Never!" He promptly directed me to a restaurant in Miami and refused to discuss the subject any further.
So in other words, I should have known better than to have great expectations of Coco Loco.
We shared an appetizer of empanadas and croqueta combo. Croqueta are deep fried ham croquettes. They were okay, but should have been removed from the fryer three or four minutes earlier. The empanadas tasted good but were runny. The crust, however, was nice.
Kevin ordered the Cuban sandwich ($5.50). Even though we've now been informed by a native that it's not an authentic dish, we still like it. Kevin was happy.
I ordered the paella. It was full of what I think was yellow rice but was nearly orange, with a smattering of squid, two shrimp, two mussells, three slices of sausage and a lot of sliced, nearly dry chicken ($12.95). It was average at best, which is a sad statement about such a dynamic, meat and shellfish packed dish. The plantains on the side were pretty good though, sweet and brown.
Verdict: Not terrible, but below average. If this is Atlanta's best Cuban food, then Atlanta's in trouble.