La Cocina – Raising the Bar AND the Grill
Story by Sarah Murphy Robertson
When a restaurant commits to using incredibly fresh ingredients and preparing virtually every component from scratch, the results are undeniably exceptional. La Cocina Mexican Grill and Bar in Seacrest has been serving Tex Mex favorites with a distinctly coastal flare since 2009, and this family-friendly institution’s screaming success rests in the time and effort exerted daily to make their menu shine.
“We slow-cook our beef brisket in a 250 degree oven overnight with peppers and garlic and onions. By morning it is falling apart and ready to be used in our enchiladas, tacos and quesadillas” explains Bar Manager, Danice Gomez. This careful attention to detail is evident and the result is meat wonderfully tender and flavorful. The decadent enchiladas are filled with generous amounts of the brisket and are really something special.
Scratch made elements like the roasted poblano lime tartar sauce elevate the gulf-fresh red snapper tacos from a tasty dish, to a superior plate. The Tacos de Camarones are a stand out surprise too. They are also served with that tangy house made tartar and the shrimp are fried in the lightest tempura-like batter with a clever secret to their airy quality: Dos Equis beer. Drizzled with a cilantro lime bbq sauce and nestled among a jalapeno slaw seals the deal. This item is simply a winner.
At La Cocina care is taken at each turn – salsa and guacamole are made every day in house from tomatoes and avocados delivered early each morning from local purveyors. These are then accompanied by freshly-fried perfection: thin, warm, salty tortilla chips. Even the refried beans, a well-known Mexican side dish staple, are slow cooked with rendered bacon, adding an interesting and smoky depth. Craving some dessert? The Apple Pie Empanadas start with tender scratch made dough and the filling is lovely: both sweet and tart.
Many of La Cocina’s beverage offerings start with fresh ingredients like berries, citrus juices, and mint. New concepts are being created all the time and result in quick customer favorites like the jalapeno pineapple and watermelon margaritas. Infusing spirits in-house to innovate hand crafted beverages is yet another exciting component of their menu.
Spring 2015 will bring a new bar menu. Think shrimp or scallop chilled ceviche and red snapper sliders. With these additional fresh and flavorful options, La Cocina’s customers will be tasked with even more delicious decisions to make. Danice frequently finds herself recommending some of the lesser-known sides like the grilled street corn with chipotle aioli or the yucca fries sprinkled with cumin. That kind of well-informed and well-intentioned service is an amenity in and of itself.
La Cocina’s knowledgeable staff happily welcomes back visitors year in and year out and these folks quickly become less like guests and more like friends and family. “We are definitely an affordable option; a really great choice for groups with kids” discloses General Manager, Burns Paterson. La Cocina is certainly reasonably priced, with the biggest evidence of their value being the outstanding food and customer service they consistently provide.
In addition to daily hours of 11-3 for lunch and 5-9 for dinner, La Cocina welcomes larger groups for rehearsal dinners and holiday gatherings. The atmosphere is always warm, cheerful, and inviting and their carefully crafted stellar menu guarantees something everyone will love.