First Bite: Toasted Coconut Melds Vibrant Tiki Style With a Full Menu
It seems like just yesterday when the team from Nobie’s was hosting Toasty Tuesdays — previews of what was to come at the forthcoming Tiki-inspired “barstaurant,” The Toasted Coconut. Fast-forward seven months and the doors are now open in the former Maria Selma space at 1617 Richmond.
When the team of chef Martin Stayer, wife and sommelier Sara Stayer and bar director Sarah Troxell chose the location, the famed giant palapa out front was one of the selling points. There’s also a small waterfall and “adult sandbox.” In other words, this isn’t your standard deck-with-tables patio. The inside is bright, which is a nice change from a typical, dimly-lit Tiki bar. One wall is covered in a palm tree mural, while others are painted in bright colors, which lend an energetic feel.
The menu is full of shareable plates such as Jerk Chicharones, Sichuan Pork dumplings and varieties of “Skewerz“, such as Thai Beef Tenderloin or our personal favorite, Reverse Pastor: al pastor-style marinated chunks of pineapple wrapped in bacon. Larger plates include a Whole Fish with Mala Sauce, Baja-Style Mussels with guajillo chili and either a half or whole order of Grandma’s Hot Chicken. “Thailand, Vietnam—basically if it touches the 20th parallel, we’ll work it into the kitchen,” said Stayer.
Troxell’s cocktail menu is split into three categories—Refreshing & Slam-able, Tropical & Bright and Big N’ Boozy — and includes classic cocktails as well as remixed versions and plenty of original creations. The Vamos A La Playa combines Del Maguey Vida mezcal, Uruapan Charanda blended rum, pineapple shrub and lime juice (and went down entirely too easily on a warm summer evening). The Seaward will grab your attention from across the restaurant. It’s a mix of Rhum J.M. blanc, coconut water, lime juice, mint and falernum (a Caribbean liqueur) served in a coconut.
Music is key to the vibe, and audiophiles will be happy to hear that the vintage speakers and large vinyl collection for which Nobie’s is known have made their way to Toasted Coconut as well. Expect to hear a fun mix of Exotica Tiki music with plenty of reggae and, of course, Phish.
Nobie’s is also 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).
The Toasted Coconut opens at 4 p.m. daily and closes at midnight. Hours are extended until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and it’s closed on Tuesdays. More information is available at its website or by following restaurant hashtags #gettoastedhtx and #gethighandstoponby
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.