This tiny storefront on River Street halfway between Memorial Drive and Central Square is a counter-service-only operation with just 3 stools. Technically, Coast
Café isn't barbecue; it's a soul food place where the friendly staff serves ribs, fried pork chops, grilled and fried fish, and a wide assortment of soulful sides. Parking is next to impossible, but there's a garage on Green Street a few blocks away.
For a late afternoon snack, my wife and I shared a pork rib dinner with collard greens and cabbage, plus a small order of fried chicken wings. The ribs were very large and meaty, and very tender from the heavy coating of brown sauce. They were probably stewed in the sauce after a quick grilling. This wasn't barbecue, but then again, it wasn't passing itself off as such; what it was was good. The meat was of high quality and had a nice flavor.
The highlight of the meal, though, was the chicken, fried to order and well seasoned with salt, black pepper and other spices. It was piping hot and super crisp. I've never tasted fried chicken this good or this light.
The sides were good, though somewhat plain. Collard greens, with smoked turkey instead of pork, had a nice flavor and texture. Perfectly cooked cabbage was velvety, with a nice buttery flavor.
There is a nice array of about a dozen Caribbean themed hot sauces available at the small eating counter. The Baron scotch bonnet sauce was particularly good, somewhat similar to East Coast Grill’s Inner Beauty hot sauce.
We also grabbed a pretty good (and humongous) homemade chocolate chip cookie to go for a mere 75 cents.
Follow-up: I tried the beef ribs on another visit. Not bad, but very fatty. The chicken was as stellar as usual though. I also tried their fried fish, which was good, but I still place their fried chicen at the head of the priority list.
The bottom line: great soul food with some barbecue touches. There might not be a smoker here, but the ribs were decent and these guys sure know how to fry. I look forward to sampling some of their fish dishes and other sides. In fact, I might just stop into Coast Café any time I see that one parking space available.