Every once in a while you run into one of those places that you’ve passed by a gazillion times, every time vowing that next time you’ll actually go in and check it out? Well, in Montreal’s Plateau neighborhood, one such place is Rotisserie Coco Rico. We first noticed, not because of the food, but because Coco Rico has a long tradition of having elaborate graffiti-style wall murals. I no longer remember what the mural was like the first time I saw in in 2002 (on the way to Schwartz’s down the street), but by 2007 it involved a simple spraypainted chicken adorned with hearts. By 2010, it involved a group of singing chickens. And by 2013, that had been in turn replaced by an elaborate “Conquistador Chicken” mural. But that’s not what made us stop. No, lingering to look at the mural also immerses you in the intense aroma wafting out of the store, of multiple marinated chickens roasting away on their rotisseries. So on this visit in 2015… we finally had a chance to stop in and visit.
Walking inside? Coco Rico is your basic Portuguese-style chicken joint (there are several in the area, including the well-regarded Romado’s down the way, which is also on my list). And it’s not an elaborate menu, it’s basically roasted Portuguese chicken, pork ribs, pork loin, and the occasional ham. There are a few options, both in quantity (quart and half chickens), service style (they offer sandwiches), and sides (mostly potatoes and pasta salad). But in that simplicity lies some excellent chicken. We both ordered half chickens with potatoes, the latter served up with some pleasant hot sauce.
How was it? Well, this was some really good roasted chicken. Not quite to the level of my favorites, like, say, the Peruvian chicken of El Pollo Rico, but this was a seriously good bird. The marinade was lightly spicy, the roast just to the point of crispy skin without drying out the meat, and the interior of the bird was tender, juicy, and flavorful. The potatoes? Good, but mostly just a nice way to round out the chicken. I’m certainly glad we stopped by, it’s one of the better, and cheaper, places to get a good, satisfying lunch in that part of the plateau. I’m sure we’ll be back.