I never thought that I would ever experience a reggae, salsa, and calypso fiesta in my mouth all at the same time…until my friends and I discovered Coconuts Caribbean Restaurant and Bar, a feisty restaurant tucked away in downtown Palo Alto, yesterday evening.
The eatery, which easily stands out due to its vibrantly colored walls and lively music, features a plethora of flavorful island specialties, including curried chicken, “melt-in-your-mouth” boneless jerk pork, and slow cooked BBQ beef short ribs with Appleton rum BBQ sauce. The menu itself reflects the fun-loving, playful nature of the place: it was divided into five sections, including “Di Small Tings,” “Di Big Tings,” the “Deluxe Menu,” “Di Sweet Things,” and the “Bar Menu.”
Being especially hungry college students, we decided to immediately delve into “Di Big Tings,” ordering the Pumpkin Crab Soup, Slow Cooked Jerk Chicken, and Chicken Shrimp Pelau to share. Not soon afterwards, Sheila, our incredibly friendly waitress, brought us the pumpkin crab soup on a curvy white ceramic dish – a most scrumptious start!
Wow. Can I say that this was absolutely delicious? Smooth. Sweet. Light. Refreshing – all words that only begin to describe this little culinary delight. The pumpkin flavor was subtle, but yet perfect. I only had two spoonfuls of the soup, but it was enough for me to admire its sweet and savory nature. Little did I know, though, this appetizer was only a sample of the revolutionary wonders to come – our actual dishes!
And boy, did they make an appearance! The slow cooked jerk chicken and chicken shrimp pelau both arrived sizzling hot on two wooden pans, causing our mouths to literally water with a fervent, almost feverish anticipation. What an exquisite aroma! The sheer intensity of the spices filled the atmosphere around us, and was so deliciously appetizing that it took all of our combined discipline to not devour both dishes within a matter of seconds (which, I ensure you, we were totally capable of, considering our skyscraper-high hunger levels).
I began first with the Slow Cooked Jerk Chicken: chicken smoked over allspice wood, and then brushed with Coconut’s popular jerk sauce.
To say the absolute truth, this dish was honestly one of the best chicken dishes that I have ever had. Ever. Yes, it was just that incredible. The medley of spices and flavors was absolutely thrilling – I literally felt as if there were fireworks going off in my mouth. There seemingly were so many spices present that my mind was whirling from trying to figure out them all – and yet, at the same time, the flavors worked so harmoniously together that it felt as if the chicken happened to be only flavored with a “Super Spice” that mankind had yet to discover. This dish honestly reminded me of all that was beautiful, fun, and exciting in the world – exotic beaches, turquoise waves, animated parties, dynamic conversations, and exuberant festivals under the sun. Mmm.
Then, there was the Chicken Shrimp Pelau: a “classic Trinidadian rice dish” with “caramelized chicken, shrimp, and pigeon peas.”
One word: phenomenal. An absolute bomb explosion of zesty flavors, diverse textures, meat, seafood, and tender veggies. Words really cannot explain the feeling that one gets from taking a bite out of this medley of island influences – it was as if I, again, had somehow manage to stumble into a world where an assortment of flavors existed, but worked together perfectly for the greater good (a.k.a. the pleasing of our eager taste buds).
So. so. so. delicious. This, I will say, I shameless devoured in a matter of minutes.
Clearly, we had done a pretty good job ordering: the jerk chicken and chicken shrimp pelau couldn’t have made a more perfect combo – and after stuffing ourselves with pure island goodness, we had only one thought left on our minds: time for a siesta!
Restaurant Summary: Coconuts Caribbean Restaurant and Bar
Atmosphere: Lively, fun-loving, energetic, vibrant, casual, pretty busy
Quality of Food: Excellente!
Service: Super friendly, warm, and welcoming
Price for each person, including tip: $12-13
Overall Rating (out of 5): 4.5
Recommend for a newbie? Definitely!