The food plan for this weekend was a takeout run to Namaste India Grill all the way up in Arden Hills. But the crappy weather on Saturday (though my vegetable garden plot appreciated it greatly) put paid to that. So instead of picking up Indian food from the northern suburbs of the Twin Cities to take to our pod friends’ home for dinner we picked up Mexican food right here in our own town. And for a change we did not pick it up from El Triunfo. No, we got it instead from Coco’s Place, a new restaurant located on the town’s main drag, Division Street. This is the spot previously occupied by another Mexican restauant, Kahlo, which I never got around to reviewing before they moved to a less settled situation down the street. Kahlo, by the way, is the venture of the chef/owner who had operated Maria’s at the same location that now houses El Triunfo. Coco’s Place meanwhile is the first official retail location of a food business that has been in operation for a few years now but not previously from a storefront. Well, despite my ongoing loyalty to El Triunfo (for food and extra-food reasons) I am very glad to also have Coco’s Place in town now. Their menu is not identical to that at El Triunfo but the food we got from them was very tasty as well. Herewith the details.
The space is larger and brighter and more attractive than El Triunfo’s. They are currently open for dining in but tables seem well spaced. There is also a small outdoor seating area but with the rain coming down that was obviously not in use. Unlike El Triunfo, Coco’s Place has a website—thought it’s not the easiest to navigate (the ui on the menu is particularly bad). But if you call for a takeout order you really should ask them what their daily specials are. On Saturday they had a bunch of these and I think they mostly constituted our favourite dishes at the meal.
What did we get? Three orders of tacos: carne asada, chicken and one of the specials: tacos de suadero. All were good but the tacos de suadero, made here with pork marinated overnight and cooked in its own juices, was the highlight. We got all the toppings on the side as some of the customers for the tacos were kids who begin to engage in micro-surgery when they find onions or cilantro on top of their meat. Beyond tacos: a torta with lengua/tongue (pronounced very good by the person who ate most of it); quesadillas with al pastor; tostadas with carne asada. The aforementioned were all from the regular menu and were quite good. We also got three more things from the daily specials: chilaquiles; two each of the red and green tamales with pork; and an order of the enchiladas in mole. The tamales were just okay (the masa was just a bit too dry/crumbly) but the chilaquiles and especially the enchiladas were very good indeed. Some jarritos to wash it all down.
To take a look at the space (and the menu) and the food, launch the slideshow below. Scroll down to see how much it all cost and a few more thoughts on value etc.
By the way, though we didn’t get any on this occasion they also have a large selection of helados/ice creams including a number of Mexican fruit flavours as well as some that will be more familiar to mainstream American palates. And they also make a range of fruit juices. I look forward to trying those on a later occasion—the helados probably not till we dine in at some point down the road.
So, price. With tax, 20% tip (and also a small credit card surcharge) the total came to almost exactly $110. That was for 4 adult and 4 children, all of whom ate to satiation. Make that enough food for 6 adults and it would come out to about $17/head. Not bad at all.
The next question you might ask is how the food compares to El Triunfo’s. Well, as noted the menus are not identical. For most of the things that were similar there really wasn’t much to choose between them (though Coco’s Place’s version of the green salsa that is probably El Triunfo’s most iconic dish can’t quite compare). El Triunfo has a bunch of things Coco’s Place doesn’t have (milanesa and arrachera, for example) and Coco’s Place has a bunch of things El Triunfo doesn’t have—of which the rotating specials seem the most compelling. But it really isn’t a competition. I suspect the two places will draw quite different crowds—probably Coco’s Place will attract a lot of people who wouldn’t eat at El Triunfo anyway. But for those of us interested mostly in good Mexican food the good news is we now have another place in town to get it. If you’re in Northfield—or visit often—give them a look, but don’t make up your mind about your order without firs checking out the specials.
Up next in pandemic eating out: the boys have been promised and denied tandoori chicken for two weekends in a row now so I think this weekend it would have to be a tornado or worse to keep me from going up to the Cities to get them some; probably from Namaste in Arden Hills. Before that, however, I’ll also have my roundup of the best dishes eaten in the second quarter of 2021—that’ll be on Sunday, probably.