The deep blue exterior of Coya’s Cafe stood out starkly against the gray Wednesday sky — an unassuming hint at the array of colors filling the restaurant’s dining space.
Owner Blanca Moran stood behind the counter, switching between Spanish and English as she described the menu she, her family and staff have crafted together.
Moran opened the cafe three years ago to honor her mother, who ran her own restaurant in the same space years ago and taught her daughter her recipes.
The food and drinks have evolved as Moran discovered new ways of cooking dishes from different regions of Mexico, putting together an array of traditional and new dishes for customers to enjoy.
“I just want for when people come in here, they feel like they’re in a little part of Mexico for a little while,” Moran said.
Located at 4320 4th Ave. in Moline, Coya’s Cafe is offering different specials every day for QC Restaurant Week, an initiative showcasing different local restaurants through March 27.
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Thursday’s special is $7 Huaraches, a dish made with a fresh corn tortilla, beans, meat, onions, cilantro and cheese. On Friday customers can enjoy a $7 quesadilla, and $7 birria tacos on Saturday. All specials come with a free drink.
Quad-Cities restaurant enthusiasts who stop by participating restaurants like Coya’s Cafe can take a picture of their receipt or take a selfie with their food and submit it online for the chance to win restaurant gift cards.
The most unique item on the Coya’s Cafe menu is also among the most popular. Moran’s 15-year-old son, Pablo, developed the Hot Cheetos and Takis burritos, along with an array of frappes. He works in the restaurant a couple of days a week, and Moran’s 25-year-old daughter, Daisy, helps with marketing.
Beyond meals, the cafe also features coffee, yogurt, desserts and other quick food items people can easily pick up and take with them. Everything is made from scratch.
“Even though our location is really small, I try to have a little bit of everything,” Moran said.
Her food has sparked fond memories shared by customers of cooking and savoring similar dishes with parents and grandparents. It’s those stories and comments from customers that make her job easier, Moran said, even during the hardest of times.
“There are some days that you’re just tired and exhausted,” Moran said. “And, then somebody comes with just a little comment that makes your day. And you’re like, ‘Okay. Yeah, let’s keep doing it.’