Photo by Madoline Markham
1212 Cocina Superior
Cocina Superior’s Pomegranate Margarita and Tequila Lime Salmon Salad.
General Manager Jason Politz has big dreams for taking Cocina (pronounced “co-see-na”) Superior to the next level of “modern Tex Mex.”
The Colonial Brookwood Village restaurant opened in 2006 as the first modern Tex Mex concept of restaurateurs Robert Kirchoff and Phil Barbaree. The pair also own Superior Grill on Highway 280 and six restaurants – including three more Superior Grills, Superior Steakhouse and Superior Seafood – all in Louisiana.
Cocina was designed to serve the same fresh, high-quality Mexican food as Superior Grill but with a variation on the “cantina” look of the other locations.
“This place has more of an upscale, South Beach feel,” Politz said. “Our décor is different; there are no neon signs and beer signs.”
In addition to classic Superior fajitas and tacos, the restaurant offers additional entrees like Tequila Lime Salmon Salad, Grilled Oysters and Chargrilled Mahi Mahi or Ribeye, and their presentation exhibits more attention to detail.
Cocina chips are extra thin, their salsa has a deep smoky flavor from roasted tomatoes and jalapeños that’s not too spicy, their Chile Con Queso is thick and cheesy, and their guacamole is filled with the freshness of avocados.
Their tortillas – flour, corn and spinach – are made in-house.
Among Cocina’s popular dishes are Filet Blue Nachos, which top crispy blue corn tortillas with filet mignon and other classic toppings. Filet Tacos Al Carbon are filled with steak and Mahi Mahi tacos with fish, roasted corn and zucchini slaw.
“We try to make you feel like you are not in Birmingham but are in South Beach or a trendy restaurant in New York City,” Politz said.
Homemade Tres Leches Cake, Churros (Mexican doughnuts) and Banana Empanada are popular for dessert.
Politz said Cocina is planning to bring in a new chef in early 2013 to add a more modern, upscale flair to the menu.
“Not everything will come with beans and rice,” Politz said. “We are trying to bring more of a feel like Bobby Flay’s Mason Grill.”
Politz envisions dishes like Roasted Shrimp Tamales, more sauces and relishes made daily and more high-end items like filet mignon and different types of seafood. He wants to use produce from organic Alabama farms and change the menu seasonally.
He also hopes to improve their Saturday and Sunday brunch menu, which is served from 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Over at Cocina’s mahogany bar, Politz wants to develop a high-end tequila bar with whatever kinds of tequila can be bought in the state, as well as add flights of margaritas with samplings of three of their varieties. Cocina will continue to sell its margaritas, which are made with freshly squeezed lime juice either on the rocks or frozen. Frozen pomegranate, peach, mango and strawberry are also available as well as frozen and on-the-rocks mojitos.
In addition to their bar and menu offerings, the patio around the restaurant, which is heated in the winter and cooled in the summer, can be reserved for private parties, rehearsal dinners or showers. Cocina also offers on-site catering, which features, among other items, its popular fajita bar.
But Pollitz said it’s a surprising part of their business that is perhaps most popular with customers: “People love our plastic cups. They have a cult following. We give out clear ones now, but some people have every color we have had since we opened.”