Rednecks and racists, be warned: stay away from Coco.
Sure, all races and creeds are welcome at this modern, red-velvety chocolate lounge and bistro, but the browns and the blacks rule the place.
Actually, the only real prerequisite to partying at this far-northside racial melting pot is pride in appearance, a passion for pleasure, and tolerance.
The action occurs in three areas:
The lounge: Fridays offer a Latin band and DJ 2leo (pronounced TOO-leo), and Saturdays feature a cover band and 2leo playing Latin and Top 40 hits (by Latin, we mean the usual mix of salsa, merengue, and bachata).
COCO XO: The new club, located right next to the lounge, boasts hip-hop on Wednesdays, electronica on Thursdays, and Top 40 Fridays and Saturdays.
The patio: DJ Citi blasts ’80s and ’90s hip-hop and R&B hits Fridays and Saturdays.
But before the dance craze took over Coco and turned it into a dancer’s mecca, the lounge was known as a top place to eat and drink. The good news: it still is. Closed on Sundays and Mondays, the place is becalmed on Tuesdays, and you can enjoy the mostly French bistro specialties (pasta dishes also available), beer, wine, champagne, and chocolate-based martinis in a romantic setting. These dynamite drinks loosen up the patrons in all the right ways, which comes in handy when Armando hits his flamenco guitar at 7 p.m. the rest of the week.
The big noise doesn’t start until 10 p.m., but when it does, look out. Both the hip-hop and salsa dance floors are the way they should be: packed, sweaty, and tight. On the Latin side, couples somehow still find space to maneuver despite their sardine-like state. Salsa dancing is one of the most sensuous things you can do in life, and the closer, the better.
Make no mistake: The music, food, and drinks are very nice, but what’s absolutely out of this world are the desserts. You can download the complete menu online and see for yourself, but you deserve a lifetime of chocolate martini hangovers if you don’t try Coco’s signature cake, the Kiss. It’s an Ecuadorean chocolate mousse dome with crème brulee, a spiked cherry center, and a chewy chocolate base. It comes with the white crème Anglaise and raspberry coulis* sauce, and it makes Sachertorte taste like a chocolate cake sold at a swap meet.
If I were you, I’d print the menu, study it carefully, and venture out on a Tuesday first (doors open at 4 p.m. every day). Eat peacefully, study the place, and prepare yourself mentally for the lively weekend to come.
COCO Chocolate Lounge and Bistro
18402 US 281 N, Ste. 114
VIBE: Intense, loud, sexy, and as dark as its chocolate.
BEST USE: As a salsa club, a dessert haven, and as a place to get wasted on chocolate-based drinks.
PRICES: Martinis $7-$9, wine by the glass $4-$11, champagne $13.50-$16, beer $4.25-$6.25, desserts $6-$17, food $7-$25
* Changed 5/5.