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THE EATBEAT: Diners find the new and old appealing at Mexican Village

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Mexican Village is one of those places that's always there. It's been around for decades and is always a good place to meet and eat.

It's the home of the Norwegian taco ($5.59) served on lightly deep-fried pita bread and topped with beef, lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and sour cream. It has a steady following here since it was introduced by Mae and Ray Gordon, who operated the restaurant before selling it to Angie Green 10 years ago. She had worked for them, and with her partner, Joe Egstad, carries on the same traditions as the Gordons.

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Mexican Village is the offshoot of the first Mexican restaurant opened downtown in Grand Forks in the 1960s by Bob Mora, who stayed in this area after retiring from the U.S. Air Force.

My order recently for a late lunch was for a small beef quesadilla ($5.09) and a diet cola in a bottle -- not one of those humongous glasses -- ($1.89).

As I waited, I demolished a half-basket full of chips with some very, very mild salsa. The quesadilla also was mildly flavored with a pleasing combination of lettuce, green pepper, beef, olives and tomato.

The menu said, "Real Mexican foods are not overly hot, just seasoned well enough to satisfy the taste for something very exciting."

That is why many people enjoy the food at Mexican Village. And it also has been the subject of criticism from some who prefer more hot and spicy fare.

The restaurant itself has arched doorways that lead to a series of booths with tables beyond. The booths provide privacy for those who like to carry on a good conversation over a meal. The servers are attentive and move quickly around the restaurant.

Among the specialties is a Mexican pizza. This is a crisp flour tortilla topped with beef, cheese, onions, green peppers, tomatoes and black olives. The small version is $5.49, and the large is $6.49.

Desserts are there for those who want a sweet finish to a meal. They include Mexican fried ice cream, apple cinnamon delight and sopapilla, which is fried bread dough sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar and served with warm maple or chocolate syrup for dipping ($3.19). And then, there's cinnamon ice cream.

Mexican Village has daily lunch specials ranging from $4.09 for a flour tortilla with cheese to a medium burrito for $5.19. A small Mexican pizza is featured for $4.89.

There also are evening specials including el poco loco Wednesday for $7.09, and kids eat free off the children's menu Sundays.

Mexican Village stays pretty much the same from year to year. However, new chicken pepper gravy has taken off on burritos, according to Green.

She said business is better on weekends when September arrives. She, like other restaurateurs, finds weekdays are busier in the summer than on the weekends.

Reach Hagerty at mhagerty@gra.midco.net or call (701) 772-1055.

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