The Coco taco at Coco Bar and Grill in Biddeford, with coconut breaded fried shrimp, pickled red onion and mango-pineapple sauce, garnished with cilantro and radish. Photo by Tim Cebula

BIDDEFORD — Coco Bar and Grill opened on Adams Street in the summer, but I waited until just recently to try it, because Mexican restaurant meals in my life have sometimes been lackluster.

You know the kinds of places I’m referring to, the ones with greasy, under-salted tortilla chips and watery, tinny salsa. The places where every dish seems like a rearrangement of the same handful of insipid starches and vaguely seasoned, dried-out proteins, all draped in a thick layer of melted cheese to hide their sins.

Not so with Coco Bar and Grill, where they serve up Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes that are thoughtfully constructed and well executed. The many raves in the restaurant’s Yelp reviews agree, and tout the generous portions and fair pricing as well.

Located directly across from City Hall, Coco Bar and Grill is nestled below street level at 11 Adams St. Walk down a short flight of stairs into the restaurant, with its bright pink and yellow walls, neon signage and joyful Latino dance music, and take a seat in one of the roomy booths or at the bar counter.

The relatively extensive menu lists a variety of Tex-Mex apps ($5-$12.25) like taquitos, queso and chips, nachos and skillet-seared steak tips; a selection of tacos ($4.25-$5.25), burritos ($10.75-$15), fajitas ($18.95-$21) and quesadillas ($11.25-$12.25); and a variety of bowl dishes as well ($10.50-$12.50).

The quick and efficient servers start you with a basket of warm tortilla chips and house salsa. Coco’s nicely salted chips were crisp and not greasy, while the salsa had good body and its lightly smoky flavor from charred tomato had an almost addictive tang, both harbingers of good things to come.


Coco Bar and Grill’s burrito al pastor, with marinated grilled pork, rice, beans, chipotle mayo and mango pico. Photo by Tim Cebula

I ordered the Coco taco ($5.25) and the burrito al pastor ($13.25). The restaurant’s signature taco features succulent fried shrimp, with a lightly sweet, coconut bread crumb coating, topped with crunchy pickled red onions and a sweet-tart mango-pineapple sauce. Wrapped in a soft flour tortilla, the taco components deliver a range of great textures, with flavor as vibrant as the restaurant’s decor.

The burrito al pastor stars flavorful strips of marinated grilled pork. The meat was moist and abundant in the burrito filling mix, which included rice, beans and chipotle mayo, with a hint of balancing acid and sweetness from mango pico.

The overall effect was like eating a meaty, creamy, cheesy casserole wrapped in a pillowy tortilla that totally satisfies your comfort-food cravings. Coco’s burrito al pastor is billed on the menu as a “both hands” affair, without hyperbole. I was only able to finish half, happy to take the rest home for another complete meal later.

I had no room left to try the churros or tres leches cake, but I have no doubt I’ll be back to dive deeper into the offerings here. I’m kicking myself for waiting this long to try Coco in the first place.

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