The small restaurant snagged Scott Linquist as its executive chef. Linquist has more than 20 years' experience, including serving as national executive chef of Dos Caminos Mexican Kitchen and executive chef at Border Grill, co-owned by Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger. The chef has also written a book, Mod Mex: Cooking Vibrant Flavors at Home.
That means budget-conscious (or broke) diners can enjoy the fruits of a well-established toque for less than $20 (including tax and gratuity). Apparently, the word is out, because at any given lunchtime, a line snakes out the door. Of course, if you wait until 3 p.m., you can get your tacos in no time.
Outdoor seating at Coyo.
The restaurant is painted steel blue, with no decorations on the wall. Outdoor patio seating is communal. Like most fast-casual restaurants, you place your order at the counter and your meal is delivered to your table. The menu is taco-forward, although quesadillas and an organic salad are offered.
Tacos are served two per order, and there's a baker's dozen of varieties to choose from, costing $6 to $9 for a matched pair. Convert any taco to a burrito, salad bowl, or burrito bowl for $10. Vegetables are locally sourced, and meat and seafood are naturally raised and humanely treated. All tortillas are made in house except for the flour variety used with seafood tacos. According to a spokesperson for Coyo, a tortillera works on the line at all times, making as many as 1,000 tortillas a day to order.
The restaurant, still in its fledgling stage, has a few kinks to work out, but the staff is diligent. Aguas frescas and horchatas were sold out by midafternoon, and the restaurant was out of frijoles borrachos -- pinto beans made with bacon and beer ($3). Other than that, the tacos came out quickly, a communal picnic table was speedily cleaned as we sat at it, and we were told the restaurant is working on having more aguas frescas available daily.
Carnitas de pato ($8) -- crispy duck tacos with chicharrón, confit-style -- paired with pastor de pollo tacos ($6.5).
Pescado tacos ($8) are made with grilled local mahi-mahi, citrus slaw, and chipotle crema, which gave the fish a cool/hot combo. The tacos are shown with an order of frijoles refritos ($3) -- a generous portion of hand-mashed organic black beans topped with cilantro and sprinkled with cheese -- and a side of guacamole made with hand-smashed Hass avocado, cilantro, and pico de gallo. The guacamole is also available in a sharable portion ($7) or as a guacamole bowl with one taco, rice and beans, and pico de gallo ($12).
Pulpo tacos ($9) are made with very tender charred octopus, salsa Veracruzana, and pickled jalapeños.
The only note? The tortillas didn't hold up in the pulpo tacos. A simple solution would be to serve the salsas on the side.
Though Coyo had run out of aguas frescas, a mango Jarritos ($3.50) proved to be a sweet substitute. Mexican Coke, Sprite, Squirt, Muniel, and Boing are also available, along with bottled and draft beers and a Don Julio margarita. Also, you can spike your soda for an additional $5.
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Coyo Taco is open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., allowing you plenty of off hours to avoid the long lines that form during peak lunchtime.