El Coqui-Santa Rosa Puerto Rican
Just a brief note, which I hope to add to later when I have more time.
Four of us had dinner at the newly opened El Coqui at 400 Mendocino (NE corner of 5th) last night. I had some concerns due to reviews on Bite Club complaining of long waits, poor service, cold and substandard food, etc, but decided to check it out. Glad I did!
This is the real deal. La deal real! Yay!
I'll skip the room and decor and just go for the food for now.
We had the Pollo al Horno, Palomilla Encebollado, Arroz con Huevos, and the Chuletas. We all opted for fried sweet plantains (you have your choice of that or fried green plantains) and black beans, instead of red. We had a split decision or yellow v. white rice.
The Pollo was tender and flavorful. I didn't taste the steak or pork, but they were big hits. I had the eggs, which were wonderful. Perfectly fried. I cut them up and mixed them into the garlic scented white rice and went to heaven. I have never had such fabulous black beans. There was a small portion of marinated tomatoes, avocados, and onions on the plate. Very fresh and clean tasting. I had cerveza (Corona) and one of us had the molasses soda, which I loved. Prices were very reasonable.
We had a perfect time, but if you need a guarantee of reasonable wait, good service, and hot food, you may want to wait a few weeks until things settle down to be on the safe side, as things seem a bit hit and miss this early in the game judging by BC comments.
But do go!
PS: I can't make the link thing work. I'm in spazz mode. Can someone else do it? Thanks.
re: Melanie Wong
I think part of the build up is because we've never had a Puerto Rican restaurant, at least not in the years I've been here. As you know, we're lucky to have so many good, and a few great, places up, but after you've lived here for a year or two, it gets repetitive and the number of types of cuisines is fairly limited.
I'm happy Abbysinia seems to be doing well. I hope El Coqui thrives here too. Have you been to the Turkish place in Petaluma? Real Donor is the name, if I recall correctly. THAT was HEAVEN.
Went back again tonight. Food was fabulous and the crew had definitely gotten over the opening glitches.
Husband and I had the special. A slow roasted pork shoulder served with a Puerto Rican style tamale called a pastel. The dough is not made from corn but plaintain flour if I remember correctly. As the Spanish chef (can never remember his name-NOT the dry ice one) says, "A-wow!" Also on the plate was a yellow rice/beans/olives serving and a few fried sweet plantains.
For dessert I had coconut pudding and husband had coconut ice cream over carmelized bananas. "Very nice!"
We got there at 7 pm and had no wait for a table. The wait staff is in the swing. No long waits or pauses. Everything smooth.
Whoa Nelly! This was one of the worst meals I have ever had served to me! My girlfriends was equally bad. Finally made it over to El Coqui last night, checked CH before hand, looked like a good bet but whoa was it BAD! Am a big fan of Sol Food in San Rafael and was looking forward to something a bit closer to home. Had the chicken sandwich which was flavorless with unripe tomato and a bread roll so white and wonderbreadish it scared me. GF had the vegetarian plate, beans tasted canned, were cold and again flavorless, rice was blah and the onion avacado stuff was blah. Not a splash of pique to be seen anywhere. The plantins were pre-cooked and reheated before serving and tasted like it. All this at a price more than Sol Food?? WTF? There were four tables seated and a couple people at the bar Friday at about 5pm. Fairly empty and still the wait service was inept and faltering. I can easily forgive almost any service and surroundings for good food but the basics of something yummy happening here just don't exist. I am very disappointed as I was looking forward to having another great ethnic option in the area. Not this one.
El Coqui definitely seems to have an evil twin! Our best friends have now gone four or five times and love it. I've been twice, as noted above. And yet, judging from Bite Club, some people go to the evil twin of El Coqui. Very mysterious. Don't give up though. Maybe you should come with us???? We seem to have good mojo with it.