A Vietnamese street food restaurant with an upstairs bar is set to open this summer in the Sixth Avenue neighborhood.
La Cà Bar will open at 606 S. Junett. That’s the former home of El Guadalajara.
This is a second restaurant in Tacoma for owner Tuan Nguyen. About 16 years ago, he owned a Vietnamese restaurant called Tay Bac in Tacoma’s Lincoln District (where Hue Ky Mi Gia now operates). He’s 36 now. He moved here from Vietnam at age 15.
He described his two-story Sixth Avenue restaurant as an homage to the street and cafe food he grew up eating in Vietnam. Downstairs will be family friendly with open seating and table service. Upstairs will hold a bar with a menu more focused on food built to pair well with Vietnamese beer and other Southeast Asian spirits.
Nguyen said the restaurant and bar’s name was a nod to a slang term for “hanging out in one place too long.”
He described construction currently underway as comprehensive. When he’s finished, there will be seating for 40 downstairs and another 60 upstairs.
He described the menu as “the food we used to eat back then at home, all the street food.” Nguyen grew up in central Vietnam, known for its bold flavors.
He listed dishes not commonly found on local Vietnamese restaurant menus, such as grilled quail that will come dressed with a garlic-honey sauce flavored with five-spice powder. He also described steamed curry chicken, grilled squid with peppers, fried chicken wings with fish sauce and an array of noodle dishes well beyond pho, the beef noodle soup so many associate with local Vietnamese restaurants.
Nguyen said, “Basically, my food is simple food, traditional style, with traditional flavor.” He said most of the Vietnamese restaurants here have a sameness to the menu, much like Chinese-American restaurants. He intends to stretch what local diners know about Vietnamese food. “I want to cook authentically,” he said.
Also coming to Sixth Avenue this summer is El Borracho, a Seattle-based taqueria known for 20 kinds of a la carte tacos built on handmade corn tortillas, a focus on vegan tacos and $4 margaritas.
La Cà Bar
Where: 606 S. Junett St., Tacoma; facebook.com/lacabar.
Opening: Summer 2017.