Local Bites: O Cocina

Nestled away in a not-often-visited part of South Tampa, O Cocina shines bright, with its cozy, gorgeous interior, savory modern Mexican fare and delicious libations. I'd heard from friends about O Cocina's beautiful faux succulent wall, but not a whole lot about its food offerings - I decided to check it out for myself during a last-minute get-together with some of my family.

O Cocina does not disappoint when it comes to first impressions - dreamy globe-encapsulated Edison lightbulbs float from the ceiling, while its much-lauded faux succulent wall frames the spotlighted bar.

Our server greeted us and dropped off some corn tortilla chips and salsa while we decided what we wanted to order. We weren't extremely hungry, so opted for some lighter bites off the menu. I can't go anywhere that offers tableside guacamole without at least trying it - the guacamole was good, but, disappointingly, not actually made table-side.

My sister's fiance ordered The Abigail to drink - a gin cocktail a beautiful shade of lavender, featuring Plymouth gin, Rothman & Winters Crème de Violette, lemon, blueberries, rosemary and egg white. It's a light and refreshing drink - I personally enjoyed it, while the men of the table jokingly referred to it as "spa water."

Tableside Guacamole

The Abigail: Plymouth Gin, Rothman & Winters Crème de Violette, lemon, blueberries, rosemary, egg white

My sisters and I have been on a major scallop kick lately. I was never a huge fan of scallops, but lately, I've been realizing that if they're prepared the way they should be, they're absolutely delicious. O Cocina didn't disappoint - we tried both the appetizer and main course versions of its diver scallops: while the appetizer pan-seared diver scallops were lighter, paired with a sweet corn emulsion and drizzled with a chorizo oil, the entree version of the pan-seared diver scallops was more hearty, paired with a bacon and lump crab risotto, sweet green peas and a chile de arbol oil. 

Appetizer Pan Seared Diver Scallops: Sweet corn emulsion, wilted pea tendrils, chorizo oil

Entree Pan-Seared Diver Scallops: Sweet green pea, bacon and lump crab risotto, chile de arbol oil (Note: Picture is of a half-portion; the server split the entree for us prior to serving)

Pork belly is another dish I'm weird about - I'm super sensitive to the texture and taste of fat. Most people enjoy it, but again, if it's not prepared a certain way, I'm not fond of it - at all. O Cocina does a fantastic job with its Guajillo Pork Belly appetizer - the pork belly is melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness, and the fatty texture is masked by the savoriness of the dish. 

I also ordered the Chef's Soup of the Day, which happened to be chicken tortilla, and Off-the-Cob Mexican Street Corn. While pH really enjoyed the soup, it unfortunately did not suit my palate, and tasted more like a warm salsa with shredded chicken compared to what I was expecting/hoping for. The corn was yummy, but there's just something about eating corn right off the cob that is all the more appealing to me. I have child-like eating tendencies, I know.

Guajillo Pork Belly: Crispy Duroc pork, habañero crema, pickled red onion

Sopa del Dia: Chicken Tortilla Soup | Off-the-Cob Mexican Street Corn

Despite some minor disappointments, I was overall very taken with my experience at O Cocina - I love the cozy vibe and the gorgeous interior doesn't hurt. The service was excellent and the food and company even more so - I will definitely be back to explore the menu further!

O Cocina is located at 4110 Henderson Boulevard in South Tampa. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday for brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can view the menu here. To stay updated on the latest happenings at O Cocina, follow along on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.