Nestled in the natural tree canopy of Coconut Grove, KoKo by Bakan is soon to become the neighborhood’s go-to spot for authentic Mexican cuisine. Opening Monday, May 15, KoKo is the newest concept from Grupo Bakan, the team behind Bakan in Wynwood and Madrid, Spain, and Talavera Cocina Mexicana in Coral Gables, and promises an upbeat dining experience in a warm, modern environment.
“We wanted to shake up the Grove’s culinary options with something completely different,” shares Lalo Durazo, a Coconut Grove restaurant veteran. “KoKo’s food and decor is designed to heighten the senses, and leave our guests with a dining experience steeped in Mexican culture. We were inspired by traditional recipes as well as the hidden gems that can only be found in Mexican markets and pueblos—allowing us to venture into cultural flavors that have been passed down for generations.”
KoKo is designed to immerse guests in Mexico’s vibrant culture and lush natural environment, starting as soon as guests step into the restaurant. The 6,000-square-foot indoor–outdoor environment is designed to feel organic, not cliché, taking inspiration from Mexico in its earthy green and terracotta colors, designed to mimic the landscape and diverse flora of the country’s desert regions.
Touches of pre-Spanish Mexico are prevalent throughout KoKo’s design, which is replete with artwork, textures, patterns and materials that pay homage to Mexico’s traditions and craftsmanship. A macrame mural by Caralarga, a group of specialized artisans who use ancestral techniques in their work, creates captivating shapes with natural fabrics – mainly raw cotton yarn and discarded textile waste. Another mural represents Otomi embroidery with its colorful shapes, while vibrant interior walls are plastered with diverse patterns in Chukum, a limestone-based stucco mixed with Yucatan Chukum trees’ resin. The venue’s captivating light fixtures are composed mainly from natural fabrics sourced from different regions of Mexico, including Palma and Rattan, while details like handcrafted terracotta flower pots and barro ornaments throughout the space create a truly immersive experience.
Located at the corner of Tigertail Avenue and Mary Street, KoKo’s is positioned steps away from Coconut Grove’s marinas and the shops at CocoWalk. The 170-seat restaurant offers a covered outdoor terrace, allowing guests to enjoy the sights and sounds of Coconut Grove or enjoy libations at the 20-seat bar, made from solid wood, representative of the Yucatan region’s environment and decorated with Alebrijes, brightly colored Mexican folk-art sculptures of fantastical creatures, that wraps around both the indoor and outdoor areas of the restaurant. Inside, chairs and benches are inspired by typical Mexican furniture, made from local leather with traditional embroidery and braiding techniques. An open kitchen allows guests to dine while watching handcrafted tortilla making, as the KoKo team grinds, rolls and prepares tortillas from scratch each day.
KoKo’s authentic menu is centered around three key elements that date back to pre-Hispanic Mexico: Nixtamal, Wood Fire and Mezcal. Nixtamal is an ancient term for the partially cooked corn that is key to KoKo’s tortillas. Artfully handcrafted each day using Criollo, ancestral organic corn imported from Oaxaca, guests enjoy tacos including Carnitas Prensadas made with pork, black beans, guacamole and chicharron; Tacos De Short Rib made with mole de olla au-jus, pickled veggies, cilantro and onion; and Langosta Con Chorizo made with local lobster, sausage, black beans, red onion, hoja santa and guacamole; all served on tortillas plated as they come out of the comal (griddle) for the freshest possible culinary experience.
KoKo also takes cues from traditional Mexican cooking with its wood-fire grill and rotisserie. Powered by cherry wood for the most authentic flavors, KoKo’s Rosticeria de Pollos Organicos, available by whole or half chicken; Huachinango Entero, whole local snapper; and meat dishes, evoke a smoky flavor that pairs perfectly with made-in-house salsas and the expansive mezcal selection.
Mezcaleando at KoKo describes the art of perfectly pairing food with mezcal to create a one-of-a-kind experience. Guests are encouraged to choose from more than 400 mezcals and tequilas—by the sip or the shot—featured on KoKo’s spectacular display wall. Diners can also choose from one of KoKo’s colorful, hand-crafted cocktails, including the Sera Sandia Sera Melon, tequila or mezcal with watermelon, triple sec and lime juice; the Mango Petacon, tequila or mezcal with mango puree, mint triple sec and lime juice, and; the Mayahuel, tequila, mezcal, sotol, rhubarb liqueur, guajillo, cinnamon syrup and lime.
Grupo Bakan’s restaurants have been a fixture in Coconut Grove for nearly two decades, and KoKo is the newest addition to their trendsetting, authentic concepts, which include Bakan in Wynwood, Talavera Cocina Mexicana in Coral Gables and Bakan in Madrid, Spain.
KoKo by Bakan is located at 2856 Tigertail Ave and will be open Sunday to Wednesday from 12 to 10:30 p.m. and Thursday to Saturday from 12 to 11 p.m. For more information, visit http://kokobybakan.com or on Instagram @KoKobyBakan.