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Dining Out: Coco’s

One of my favorite places to eat in the Arden area, my home turf, is Coco’s (or, more fully, Coco’s Bakery Restaurant), across from the theater end of the mall complex, in the same parking lot as the new Kohl’s (or the old Mervyns depending on your chronological perspective).  

Coco’s is part of a chain, but not an especially extensive one, with one location in Colorado, eight in Nevada, 13 in Arizona, and 89 in California. But, of the 89 in California, only seven are north of Bakersfield, including the Arden location and another in Citrus Heights. For that reason, for me at least, it ends up feeling more like a local neighborhood restaurant.

But I like it for more reasons than that. I’ve eaten there many times, and I don’t recall ever being disappointed. It has one of those “a little of everything” menus that are typical of many American casual dining restaurants (think Applebees) and consistently pleasant, friendly service. It also served me one of the best tasting and most tender steak filets I’ve ever had – an equal to much higher priced restaurants.  

Since then, they’ve upgraded their beef selection and I’ve been searching for bargain combination meals and they’ve won me over yet again. Coco’s offers four entrees (all for under $10) in what they call their “two course meals” – which is a bit of a misnomer, depending on how you tackle them. In each case you get to pick an appetizer or a slimmed down dessert to accompany the entrée. However, two of the four entrees (a chopped Angus steak dinner and a crusted parmesan chicken with pasta) come with salads already on the plate, so the ½ slice of pie or seasonal dessert essentially transforms the two course meal into a three course meal served in two parts.  All of them allow for add-ons of drinks or additional mini pie slices for $1, so even if you opt for a separate salad with a non-salad bearing entrée, you can still end up with three courses for only a dollar more.

Those desserts are worth adding on, even at full price. The “bakery” in the name is there for a reason. Coco’s is a great place for an eat-in meal and a take-out pie.  

And in a time when far trendier restaurants have sprung up around it, with The Cheesecake Factory commanding waiting times that would suggest the distribution of free appliances with each meal purchased (and, seriously, any restaurant that gives me a buzzer to tell me when my table is ready needs to be prepared for me to leave and keep it as a souvenir), I have never had to wait at Coco’s.  Lack of a crowd is often a bad sign, but at Coco’s it seems to be the simple lack of fashionability that causes the masses to go elsewhere. Maybe it’s different in Southern California?

One of the outcomes of this is that Coco’s is one of the greatest places to have a meeting. Even without needing the banquet room, it’s my first pick for meetings over food at almost any time of the day. I’ve met with builders there and pushed two tables together to roll out full-sized blueprints and have never been hassled or encouraged to eat up and leave. 

Conversely, the relaxed atmosphere leads to quick turnarounds when pushed for time: It’s also my first choice for a sit down meal if I have less than an hour before a movie.

Meanwhile, with a decent breakfast menu, “fit and lively” selections, “Club 55,” and free kids meals after 4pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, it can satisfy more than just the rushed movie watching pie lovers.

Coco’s
1830 Arden Way
916 922-6741
For more information:
www.cocosbakery.com

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