On Friday night I crossed one of the items off my ‘leaving Auckland’ list: Coco’s Cantina. And boy, do I wish I’d been earlier because it is awesome.

Coco’s has a bit of a rep for being incredibly popular and crowded, even bordering on boisterous. However, we didn’t find it so – we did arrive fairly early by Friday-night-dining standards and easily got a table, despite the warning on the website that you may have to wait for a one. The tables were close together, but not crowded, it was noisy, but not overly loud, and hip, but not pretentious so. It was cosy and comfortable.

I particularly like the way craft beer was presented – they didn’t boast about it, it was just matter-of-factly included because Coco’s is all about taste and therefore they have great tasting beer. On tap was Galbraith’s Munich Lager and West Coast Pale Ale. I immediately ordered the West Coast Pale, it being a contender for my all-time favourite Pale Ale, and nearly as quickly disappointed to discover a lot of the out-there hop flavour missin. But after a few more sips I discovered it was still a lovely beer – just more of an Amber Ale – and thoroughly enjoyable.

The elements that make up a great restaurant experience were there: friendly knowledgeable staff, great food (I can recommend the prawn pasta and the ravioli) and welcoming, relaxing atmosphere. If you haven’t been yet, get down there.

This would be a good time to mention Barb, my dinner companion of the night, has taken over the upkeep of the ‘Auckland Craft Beer on Tap’ website. Barb writes the Beer IQ blog and runs tastings under a company of the same name. The list is now located here – a big thanks to Barb!

Details: Coco’s Cantina, 376 K’Rd, Auckland, http://www.cocoscantina.co.nz