Happiness is a hot plate of food for $5 at lunchtime. Especially when it’s prepared with fresh ingredients and served in a cozy family-run establishment.
Poco’s Latin Cuisine is one of the best midday meals in the metro because it feels like eating at Grandma’s house: You don’t know what you’re going to get, but you know you’re in good hands.
Now that Nichol’s Lunch, Sanderson’s Lunch and the Woolworth’s lunch counter are no more, it’s a welcome development that a Latin restaurant is bringing back the all-American concept of the blue-plate special.
One day you might get a grande burrito, another tostadas, enchiladas, gorditas or fajitas. Lunch is always served with creamy homemade refried beans and Mexican rice studded with carrots and peas for the ridiculous price of $5.
“I like to mix it up. I like to surprise people,” says Claudia Endicott, the owner who often can be found mingling with guests or tending the well-stocked bar, which offers refreshing tropical cocktails.
Poco’s is the legacy of Endicott’s mother, Lorenza Gutierrez, whose nickname was Poco. Gutierrez died in May after a three-year battle with cancer, leaving Endicott with a crowd of loyal patrons to continue feeding in her mother’s honor.
The innovative, Mexican-with-a-twist dishes on Poco’s menu resulted from a creative mother-daughter collaboration.
Endicott loves to travel and would often eat at fine restaurants. She’d then bring back menu descriptions of innovative Latin dishes and ask Gutierrez to come up with her own versions of them.
The results will make your mouth do a happy dance. Try the mahi-mahi tacos in blue corn hard shell tacos with mango barbecue marinade or the Cuban sandwich of roasted pork, ham and swiss on a grilled baguette.
Poco’s also serves a wide-ranging breakfast menu of American and Latin dishes, including my favorite, the humorously named huevos divorciados: two corn tortillas with eggs on top, one with green and one with red salsa, served with a side of black beans.
But my favorite dish of all is the $5 lunch plate, enjoyed at the counter with a heaping helping of chitchat from Claudia and her sister, Dana. The hospitable young women do the widely beloved Lorenza proud.