PAWTUCKET — From breakfast and lunch to dinner and late-night dancing, La Vaca Flaca has it all.
The new, family-owned restaurant at 139 Broad St. has an ambitious plan to be many things to many people, with its first priority being to serve fine quality Mexican and Guatemalan food.
La Vaca Flaca means “The Skinny Cow,” and Isai Diaz, one of the three owners, said he got the inspiration for the name from an American menu. Working as a long-distance truck driver, he said he had stopped at a restaurant in a little town in the middle of the mountains somewhere in Tennessee.
“They had a breakfast on the menu called ‘The Skinny Cow,’ and I said to myself, ‘That will be the name of my new restaurant,” said Diaz.
Diaz, his brother, Elim Diaz, and Elim’s wife, Joanna Melgar, are the owners and hands-on proprietors of La Vaca Flaca. All three are new to the restaurant business, but they have what they believe to be a successful business model, based on places that Diaz has seen and visited in California.
“There are a lot of places out there that are a place to eat and also have a dance floor, so they are a restaurant and a nightclub,” he said.
The space had formerly been a pizza restaurant, but the new owners did some renovations and added a bar and roomy dance floor. The décor features large, decorative hats from Mexico and Guatemala and colorful striped tablecloths.
The three owners are all Guatemalan, so their focus is on serving popular Guatemalan and Mexican dishes. Chef Marvin Pineda, who formerly worked at the Cheesecake Factory, has helped develop a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu that features tacos, tortillas, burritos and creative entrees made with steak, chicken, choriza, beans and fried plantains.
Among some of the signature dishes are La Vaca Flaca steak, choriza and longaniza and Carne Azada, a dish of steak, tortillas, rice and beans. A flavorful breakfast item is Desgono Chapin, featuring eggs, beans, and fried plantains.
La Vaca Flaca is open seven days a week, from 9 a.m. until 1 a.m. They start serving breakfast, then move to lunch and then into dinner, with the kitchen remaining open until 10 p.m. After that, the lights go down and the restaurant turns into a nightclub, with music for listening and dancing, and karaoke on Thursdays and Sundays.
Diaz said he is hoping to add some Mariachi bands in the near future.
Melgar credits her brother-in-law for proposing the restaurant idea.
“We all jumped in and did it. We’re hoping for the best,” she said.