Coco’s Paradise! An adventure in Honduras Cuisine.

My husband took our daughter out for a date, so I was left with a Friday evening alone. JACKPOT!! So I took myself out to dinner to a little place around the corner I have been dying to try, Cocos Paradise. The exterior is lovely, island themed and inside I found beautiful wooden floors with red and white table cloths and charming decorations.

A hostess greeted me with a smile, and seated me at a charming table by the window.

The menu was diverse including seafood, chicken, pork beef, appetizers, lunch specials, kids meals, and desserts. Everything sounded really delicious and I was impressed that a traditonal paella was one of the options. I asked the server what was some of the most Authentic Honduran dishes they had, she directed me to the lunch menu, and told me I could order them anytime of day. Score! I asked her which was her favorite and she immediately said the SOPA DE MARISCOS. The description was simple: seafood soup. I told her I would have that. She then offered me a seasonal coconut, I could drink the water and then they would cut it open for me to eat the fresh meat. I gladly accepted.

She promptly grabbed a large power drill from behind the bar and headed to the kitchen. Drilling noises were followed by her returning to my table with a large green coconut pierced by a straw. Announcement! : I do not like coconut water! At least not the kind at the store,  and I do not like coconut flavored anything. But this was the most refreshing delicious water I have ever had. I was so delighted in the simple cool sweet water. She was cracking up at how surprised and pleased I was with this coconut. After tipping it all different ways and holding it up to my ear several times to shake it and check that I had gotten it all, she took it back to the kitchen to crack it open. The loud banging coming from the back gave me comical mental images of a large Samoan man beating the coconut against the stainless steel counter. What she brought back was a halved coconut, and a small scraping tool.

Like I said, I don’t like coconut. But I have never had the meat fresh either. The texture was unique. It was not at all dry, nor was it mushy. It was very dense and creamy, yet it carved away like clay. The tool she gave me was a close resemblance to something from high school ceramics class. I loved it. It was so mild in flavor compared to anything “coconut” I had ever had before. This was a great appetizer and something to keep me busy while I waited on my entree.

It wasn’t long before my Sopa was ready. It arrived piping hot and absolutely beautiful. It came with a side of rice and home made from scratch corn tortillas. First, the soup. This soup was so full of flavor, and freshness, yet something was so comforting. The broth was creamy, but not thick. Buttery, but not too rich. It was spicy but not overpowering. It was perfect. I literally burnt my tongue over and over again because I couldn’t stop myself from trying to eat it before it was cool. It was a enormous portion, that I will enjoy the rest of later tonight, something this good won’t last in my house until tomorrow. It was filled with crab, mussels, jumbo shrimp, firm white fish, potatoes, carrots, minced celery, onions, scallions, bay leaves, and parsley. It was heaven. I am not usually the person who orders seafood. I don’t usually enjoy scraping out mussels. I devoured this.

The rice it was paired with was possibly jasmine rice, it was white, slightly sticky, not sweet, and cooked perfectly. It paired beautifully with the soup, but was also delicious all on its own.

I had been so engrossed in the soup that I had forgotten about the tortillas. I saw them and was a little perplexed, usually tortillas are just the holder or vehicle for the good stuff. This was not the case with these tortillas. They were a little fluffier and thicker than typical store bough tortillas, almost like a thin pancake. The were warm, and obviously very freshly made. I didn’t know what else to do but eat them plain. They were so good. I don’t like corn tortillas, but the flavor was so different than usual corn tortillas, and the slight saltiness with fluffy texture went together well with the hearty soup. I told the server I could eat those everyday for breakfast.

I was completely stuffed about halfway through the soup and rice, but I was curious about the yuka I had seen through out the menu. I asked her what it was like and she offered to get me a sample! A SAMPLE!! Who was this goddess server from heaven? She brought me a sample of not only the yuka, but the cabbage and plantains!! I was beyond impressed. How sweet of her to indulge in my culinary curiosity. The cabbage was crisp with a tangy, but not vinegary, more sweet and sour type sauce. I really liked that. The Yukas were more like potatoes that had been dredged, and not at all dry on the inside like potatoes. Lastly the plantains: So, I don’t like bananas, like at all. So here was one more thing I was stepping out of my comfort zone on and they weren’t bad! I didn’t love the them, but they were tasty! They had a banana feel but a completely different flavor, and the char really helped them stand out from your common banana.

I was so impressed with this tiny restaurant. The service, the food, the vibe its incredible. A hidden gem in my small town that is begging for some variety and culture. I can’t wait to back and next time bring my whole family.

Thank you Cocos Paradise!