The Coop, right by the Frontier Relics and Auto Museum, is a chicken worth crossing the road for. In fact, it might be worth crossing the whole state for. The menu is full of Latin American classics inspired by the culinary journey of the Costa Rican owners, but the focus is on rotisserie chicken meals. The restaurant is indeed the size of a coop, but with a welcome nearly as warm as the ovens that cook the birds. After sitting down, you are swiftly greeted by smiling server with a tiny corn muffin amuse bouche. The moist corn cake suggests the high level of cookery here and foreshadows excellent chicken to come.
The chicken has a dark skin that appears burnt, but this is just from the roasting of the sugars in the marinade. It’s actually cooked to succulence. The rub on the bird is boldly salted, but it doesn’t ever overwhelm the flavor of the chicken and spices. This isn’t just great chicken for small town Wyoming. This is great chicken for anywhere.
The rice and black beans here are a feature in themselves. They are flavored distinctly different from those that you’d find at Mexican restaurants. They have a Caribbean profile. The ranchero beans are pure chuckwagon Wyoming, expect for that they featured spicy hotdog like sausage coins instead of chucks of beef or salt pork. The chicken also comes with a basket of corn tortillas made from fresh masa.
As good as the chicken is, the family recipe empanadas are even more special. They are unlike any other we’ve had. The shells are fried crisp, but aren’t too oily. They come to life when dipped into the zesty green salsa that comes with them. They are filled with tender shredded rotisserie chicken and a blend of cheeses. On their own, they eat a bit rich with fat, but when dipped in the acidic green sauce, they are just right.
Given that this is the hottest restaurant in town, there may be a wait for a table, or for the food as they keep up with the rush. Be patient and enjoy a slow meal of slow-cooked bird that might be the best in the Great Plains.