WILLIAMSTOWN -- The joke goes like this: The customer is the skinny, or flaco, coyote of Coyote Flaco's namesake, and the restaurant is there to serve up the robust meal these famished folks have in store.
For seven years, Galo Lopez, head chef and owner of the Cold Spring Road eatery has provided just that service, putting together a menu of delectable, ever-evolving takes on classical Spanish, Mexican and Portuguese dishes.
These range from burritos, enchiladas and fajitas to soups, salads and meat-and-bean combinations, all topped with a laundry list of specialties like guacamole and mole sauce. And, of course, margaritas -- a whole separate menu of them to be exact. The drinks feature a multitude of unique tequilas, and are backed up by a growing list of Spanish and Mexican wines.
Lopez, a native of Ecuador, moved to the country at 20 and spent years working his way up the chain in many different restaurants, from "washer, to server, kitchen -- everything."
"When I decided to open the restaurant I talked to my brother -- whose restaurant in New York is called Coyote Flaco -- and said ‘How about another Coyote Flaco,' " Lopez said. "It's like his, but only a little because we have at least five or six items at a time on the menu constantly going through changes."
It's because of this that Lopez recommends specials to the restaurant's "phenomenal" bunch of regulars -- usually made with day-of seafood,
"Mexican food is different cheeses, different beans, meat options, tortilla options, and then sauces and toppings," Lopez said. "So there's a lot to work with creating new dishes. You need to because you always want the customer to come back."
Recent specials include enchilada Cancun: yellow corn tortillas stuffed with lobster, tomatoes and onions, topped with saffron sauce, ripened plantains, beans and guacamole; and pargo ala vinagreta de naranja: grilled red snapper served with arugula salad, yucca frita and an orange vinaigrette.
These dishes can all be finished off on a sweet note with a dessert menu filled with fruit-and-flan combos and dense chocolate cake.
For Lopez, restaurants are the family trade. His two daughters work side-by-side with him at Coyote Flaco, and his wife is running Espana Tapas Bar and Restaurant on State Road in North Adams, the new family business. In addition, Lopez's brother owns three restaurants in New York and his sister owns one.
On a typical day, Lopez begins preparing food for the evening at 10 a.m. and doesn't shut the burners off until near 11 p.m. He picked up much of his cooking technique working at restaurants like La Camelia in Mount Kisco, N.Y., and Espana in White Plains, N.Y.
"It's very good," Lopez said. "Many hours, you know, but if you like it and it's in your heart, all is good."
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