Coco's Cantina (2)
376 Karangahape Rd, Newton.
Ph 300-7582, cocoscantina.co.nz.
Dinner Tuesday-Saturday. $$
Runner-up, best casual bistro / Finalist, best service
Five years on and the steak is still one of the best in town. Scotch fillet, served just under medium rare, with the best handcut chips in town and a pile of rocket. Coco’s was one of a few no-bookings restaurants to hit town when sisters Renee and Damaris Coulter opened shop in the middle of the recession: it still defines the genre.
There are red-gingham tablecloths and vintage chairs, family snaps and post-cards on the walls. The music is loud, the waitresses wear bright red lipstick and on Fridays especially, summer or winter, sitting at a table on the pavement is one of our favourite places to be.
The food? Robust flavours, big servings: the pea-and-mint ravioli is a singularly fabulous dish, as is the veal scallopine, which comes and goes on the menu. This year, the Coulters opened Next Door, a separate space for large groups with feast-style dining.
A favourite dish: Spaghetti and meatballs.
Fixed-price meals / Free-range chicken and/or pork / Good seating outside / Private room / Takes large groups / Craft beer selection / Bookings not usually taken
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