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Nautical Cowboy's coconut shrimp 

The other night, my husband and I realized we had visited the Nautical Cowboy so early that we were in the happy hour zone, which consequently is our happy-place zone as well.

Before we shared a bowl of buttery cioppino, we ordered an appetizer of coconut shrimp served with a Thai-style chili dipping sauce. There were six pieces of crispy, sweet, wild Texan coconut shrimp.

I really wished that Nautical Cowboy could have lassoed me at least 20 more so I could have settled with coconut shrimp as my entree. The delicate bites nearly melted in my mouth, and the ambrosial, tropical chili sauce just nailed it as an accompanying flavor burst.

We paired it with a Ramón Bilbao albariño, and sitting there in the beautifully decorated, historic Carlton Hotel, with impeccable service and cool air conditioning, it was worth the stop before seeing the new Pavorotti documentary at the Galaxy.

The Nautical Cowboy is located at 6005 El Camino Real, Atascadero, (805) 461-5100. Happy Hour is daily from 4 to 6 p.m. (each beer, cider, cocktail, food, and wine item is $2 off); coconut shrimp is $14 regularly and $12 for happy hour. Δ

New Times contributor Beth Giuffre loves lassoing shrimp. Send cocktail sauce and Wranglers to

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