A Preview of Forthcoming Houston Tiki Bar The Toasted Coconut
Last August, Eater Houston broke the news that Nobie’s owner and executive chef Martin Stayer was working on a new project called The Toasted Coconut at 1617 Richmond in the former Maria Semla location in Montrose. Details had not been officially released at that point, but now everyone can get a taste of what’s going to be offered. The Nobie’s team, including sommelier (and Martin’s wife) Sara Stayer and bar director Sarah Troxell just started hosting Toasty Tuesdays — previews of what’s to come when The Toasted Coconut opens its doors this June. The first one happened earlier this week and more are planned. (Note that not every Tuesday is a Toasty Tuesday.)
Houston already has a few premiere tiki bars, notably Lei Low and the recently opened Kanaloa, but The Toasted Coconut is going to be distinguishable from the pack in a few ways. First is a bright, warm and welcoming design as opposed to the more traditional, darker environment. The famed Maria Selma palapa was only days away from being torn down before Stayer signed the lease, and the team is very excited that it was saved. The decor will be tropical and beachy, with a ’60s and ’70s art deco vibe and tiki records playing in the background. There is even going to be an adult sandbox designed to make patrons forget they’re in the fourth largest city in the nation.
Another difference is that The Toasted Coconut will have a full kitchen and a wide range of inspiration. “Thailand, Vietnam — basically if it touches the 20th parallel, we’ll work it into the kitchen” says Stayer, as he delivers dishes like the Indonesian “queso” with roti — crispy housemade roti with sweet curry sauce designed to look like chips and queso, and Crispy Rice Salad, a Vietnamese-inspired salad with discs of crispy rice accented with just enough fish sauce to please the palate.
Stayer is also featuring food served on a stick. For the first Toasty Tuesday, he made a trio of skewers — tender Sichuan Cumin Beef, Chili Garlic Shrimp and a wonderfully succulent Reverse al Pastor in which large pieces of pineapple are marinated as al pastor overnight and then grilled to flavorful juicy perfection.
The food options are going to help patrons can enjoy more than one of Troxell’s beautifully balanced tiki drinks. The drink list includes classic cocktails such as the Mai Tai and Planter’s Punch, but there are also remixed versions and plenty of Troxell’s own creations. At the preview, she played with standard spirits such as overproof Jamaican rum and rhum agricole — a Caribbean rum distilled from fresh sugarcane juice instead of molasses. She also flexed her mixologist muscles and created drinks from Japanese gin and a smoky blended scotch.
Nobie’s is known for its constantly revolving food and drink menus and Troxell’s daily cocktail specials. The Toasted Coconut’s offerings will be more stable, with menus changing only quarterly (which is still more frequently than many bars and restaurants).
Josh Armendariz is Houston Food Finder’s lead freelance beer and cocktail writer. He can often be found on a stool at your favorite bar, sipping a hoppy craft beer and talking about the Astros with anyone who’ll lend an ear. Follow him on Instagram at @drinkwithjosh.