Editor's Note: Whether you're a tourist or an office worker in downtown Chicago, you can get sick of eating at chain restaurants all day. So we've started a series to get you the lowdown on where to find a great and affordable lunch.
Before we begin, let me start off by saying: HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY, EVERYBODY! I hope you got your reservations arranged in time. And if you're single, don't fret. There's alway a site like Trek Passions for the Star Trek lover in all of us. So with today being Valentine's Day and all, honestly, what goes better with Cupid than a big pile of deep fried lobster?
Yes, my fellow cubicle jockeys, you read that title right. Deep fried lobster. Also, I really think I should start a series about restaurants around prisons. Because if Mickey's is "prison chicken," then Coco's Famous Deep Fried Lobster is, well, "prison lobster." (And just so you know, I'm not being totally rude; there really is a prison facility across the street.)
What does deep fried lobster ($11.25) look like? It looks sort of like popcorn chicken. The lobster came crusted in a crunchy—but not too thick—outer crust. The inside of each nugget contained an appropriate amount of lobster, and I felt like I was getting a fair deal for $11.25.
But is it good and, um, lobster-y? I have conflicting emotions on this part. It was definitely lobster, but its flavor was very light. The meat was insanely tender, and it pulled apart easily, so it definitely wasn't overcooked, which I imagine could easily have happened. When dipped into the cocktail sauce that comes on the side all I tasted was, well, cocktail sauce. But that's not a completely bad thing! Overall I liked it. Just don't go expecting truffles on the side.
The fried shrimp ($10.50) are a whole different story. They're huge—like two-bite huge—and come with the same crust as the lobster. This time, the shellfish flavor of the shrimp really busted through, and with the crunch of the crust, as well as the zingy cocktail sauce, I was hooked. If I had anything bad to say, it might be that the shrimp were fried a tad too long, but I enjoyed them so much that it was a nonissue. And the fries that come on the side? They're the battered type, but they were crispy, a bit greasy, and addictive. Definitely get the shrimp, and if you want the lobster too, they have a combination plate so you can try both—a pro-tip from yours truly.
The side dishes were also a surprise. The mac and cheese ($2.25) was definitely homemade and had a comforting feel to it. The sweet potatoes ($2.25) were delicious upon first bite, but then they got sweeter...and sweeter. This could have easily passed for dessert.
The collard greens ($2.25) were salty and soft, with a nice smoky backbone from cooking with ham hocks. I could roll with these any day.
If you're like me, you might be daydreaming about a future where you grow up to be famous, rich, and handsome, and you can afford to eat lobster every day. Until then, a plate of deep-fried lobster will do you just fine. And don't worry. We'll all be rich someday.
Coco's Deep Fried Lobster
426 S. Clark, Chicago IL (map)
About the author: After a failed attempt at starqting a chain of theme restaurants called "Smellen Keller," Dennis Lee traveled the world to discover his true passion. Sadly, midwifery didn't pan out. Now he works in a cubicle, and screws around as much as possible. Follow his shenanigans on Twitter.