When you walk through the door of Destin’s newest Mexican restaurant, Coco’s, you can’t help but smile, immediately you feel like family among the Reyes and Dimas families, who are playing and drawing on a chalkboard with the youngest Coco’s “employees” – your stomach and heart seem to start acting as one.

In recent months, family-oriented restaurants seem to have become popular again, with every member of the family having an important role in the business. Coco's Mexican Restaurant is a prime example of a family-run establishment; everyone has a hand in the success of the business.

Although it's only been open a week, the restaurant is clearly thriving already. This family-owned and operated restaurant might look a bit unassuming from the outside, but don't let the exterior fool you — once you step inside you're warmly greeted not only by delicious aromas but members of the Dimas and Reyes families, including their adorable daughters Ximena, 3, and Camila, 4.

Owner and operator Cesar Reyes, along with his wife Adriana, both originally from Mexico City, spoke to The Destin Log about their motivation behind opening Coco's, "I opened this restaurant for my family," Reyes says. "This is the first time we've all worked together."

Chef Jose Dimas and his twin sons, Henry and Erick, originally from El Salvador, are the second family who are part of Coco's. Dimas has been cooking for around 10 years and he describes the fare at Coco's as "Mexican and Central American, mostly family recipes."

Their menu has a wide variety of items ranging from well-known choices like guacamole and cheese dip, quesadillas and fajitas to seafood and vegetarian dishes that are seen less-often on the menu of new eateries.

One particularly intriguing seafood entrée that can be found on the menu of Coco’s is their “Camarones Diabla or Mejicana” – 12 shrimp served with pico de gallo, rice, beans, tortillas, sour cream, guacamole, then the whole dish is finished with a generous topping of cheese sauce.

For the veggie-lovers there’s a spinach quesadilla packed with the iron-rich, Popeye-approved, leafy-greens, pico de gallo and beans, not to mention the veggie fajitas with onions, bell peppers, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, rice, beans and cheese sauce.

In the short week that Coco's has been open they've had more than one repeat customer; Barbara Poythress, of Destin, could easily be called a "Coco-holic."

Poythress, who works next door, says she's been in twice since the restaurant has opened and she will keep coming back because "I've been to Mexico quite a few times and this is the most authentic food I've had outside of there; it's not a fast-food knockoff. Everything is very good and the portions are large, and at a fair price."

Coco's Mexican Restaurant is open daily from 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. for lunch and dinner and also provides to-go orders. They are located at 14091 Emerald Coast Parkway, Unit C and can be reached at 424-7944.