Coco Tropical has been a winner for well over 20 years; the ambiance and food mesh to make for a memorable meal. At the helm is Swiss chef, Heinz Reize who brings the bounty of that country and its German, French and Italian heritage to the table. Over a recent chat I asked him why there seemed such a preponderance of Swiss and German chefs in Puerto Vallarta and he told me first they had fallen in love with Mexico, and then they had fallen in love with Mexican women – quite delightful! And quite delightful is the food.
Lunch is a casual affair as one can grab a chair on the beach and a club sandwich or Panini is easy finger food while you lounge. The smoked salmon Panini is super, the baguette pre-baked in Paris and the salmon enlivened with alfalfa sprouts. I recommend the Reuben and hot dog too, if you are feeling especially Teutonic. There are two happy hours, 11 to 12:30 and 5:00 to 6:30 so when you arrive for dinner the place is starting to feel very jovial and myriad glasses of wine on the tables add to the party atmosphere.
Continental delights abound on the dinner menu, the French onion soup is redolent of Les Halles in Paris and as I love chicken livers I usually opt for them prepared here in a port wine sauce. I think I prefer my livers with sherry or marsala as this is certainly not a light appetizer but I’ll take ‘em anyway I can get ‘em. Sr. Reize as I shall refer to him in deference to his adopted land, is very proud of his escargot á la Bourguignonne made with a special Mexican artisanal butter with 30 (!) different sorts of herbs enveloped in a frothy puff pastry.
There is often homemade spaetzle and rӧsti on hand and his signature dish is risotto – he is rightly considered the King of Risotto – indeed he boasted to me that it can make it in his sleep as it has become second nature for him to make it. I adore the stuff and usually order it when I am out as it is a labor intensive dish which requires long stints standing over an oven stirring with a wooden spoon, which I have little patience for.
Probably the most popular choice on the menu is the Osso Bucco, rightly so as it is the non plus ultra of its kind. Sr. Reize is a traditionalist rooted in the classics so there is Chicken Parm, Steak Diane, Steak au Poivre and a very good filet, their meat comes from a special purveyor in Guadalajara. Of course, fish dishes run the gamut – I had an excellent Dorado the other day and other bounty from our piscine shores abound.
As for desserts, Sr. Reize loves his native apple fritters or beignets but I say go with the Chocolate Mousse (refer to photo and prepare to drool). All nations think their chocolate the best (I am rather partial to Cadbury’s) but Switzerland could justly claim the blue ribbon. Milk chocolate was actually invented there; it was made with evaporated milk invented by a certain Henri Nestle. I went to school in Switzerland and cannot hearken back to those days without conjuring up images of steaming bowls of hot chocolate or the giant bars of Lindt or Suchard that I spent all my pocket money on in the days when my duodenum was young and pliant.
So here is our equation: one perfect sunset PLUS consistently excellent food PLUS charming service (I must give a shout out to Jorge and Lupe!) which equals (queue the music …) Some Enchanted Evening!
Coco Tropical: 101 Basilio Badillo @ the beach
By Bronwen White