The "best" restaurant doesn't have to be the one with the fanciest decor, the frou-frou-est ingredients, or the Frenchest chef. It's the one you're drawn to, over and over and over again. The one where you meet friends, where you take out-of-towners, where you feel the stress ooze out of your body the moment you slide into a booth. Whenever someone suggests, "Let's go to Coconuts," the sun magically shines a little brighter and you hold off on that snack you were about to bite into, knowing that something better — way better — awaits. The food is a mix of familiar comforts (a $13 coconut shrimp appetizer, $5 mac 'n' cheese, $27 strip steak) and little surprises (pigeon peas and rice, $3; bahn mi sandwiches on special). The waterfront setting is not at all pretentious, and the service, usually lovely. (Ask and servers will often provide food to toss to the little fish who swim up to the dock.) Fridays feel like a community gathering when paella is cooked outdoors, and on Monday and Tuesdays, wines from the well-curated list are half-off (though there is blueberry soda and blackberry mojitos, if you prefer). Best of all, you just can't beat the company motto: "Be nice."
Readers' Choice: Steak 954