THE EATBEAT: Low prices for good food makes for repeat customers at Mexican Village
The place doesn’t change. And on a recent Wednesday evening, I went to the Mexican Village with my daughter, Gail Hagerty (GH). She was in town from Bismarck.
We talked of the days way back when she was in Red River High School and there were always lines to get into the Mexican Villiage. She would go and stand through the line if I would come join her and pay the bill.
Things haven’t changed all that much.
The lines are no longer a problem, but there sometimes is a brief wait to get in. You sit in a comfortable, entry area where the Mexican theme is well-presented. You enter by one door and exit by another.
We like the booths with arched entries that seat as many as four customers. They are comfortable and provide a place where you can carry on a good conversation.
We like the chips and sauce that arrive promptly.
GH ordered her favorite — El Poco Loco & Taco. It’s a meal of layered corn tortillas filled with beef and topped with gravy and garnished with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and black olives ($8.99).
The consistency of the food over the years is what keeps people coming back. Although I sometimes stray around on the menu, I most often order a beef taco ($2.69) and a cheese tostado ($2.49). Usually, I have eaten all of the chips with tomato sauce that are delivered to the table as customers are seated. The sauce is mild with a nice sharp zing. The chips are crisp and not too salty.
We opted for Diet Pepsi ($2.29 with unlimited refills). But there are other beverages including milk (which we should have been drinking) as well as coffee and hot tea.
Burritos are the signature item — the best sellers on the menu, according to Joey Egstad, the kitchen manager. He operates the business with Angie Green.
It was the first Mexican restaurant in Grand Forks when it was started by the late Robert Mora 50 years ago in a downtown location. Mora had retired from the Air Force after being stationed at the base near Grand Forks.
Business was so brisk that the restaurant soon moved to larger quarters in the Washington Street location. Mora, who is now deceased, sold the restaurant to Ray and Mae Gordon, and they eventually sold it to Angie Green.
People keep coming to the restaurant for various reasons including its stability. You know what you are getting at Mexican Village.
For those who want a full-blown dinner, Mexican Village offers steak, chicken or mixed fajitas ($11.39) and a burrito dinner served with rice and beans ($8.99).
There are specialty burritos including a California Burrito that is a flour tortilla filled with beef, beans, onions and rice. It’s topped with chili and garnished with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and black olives. And it comes in small, medium or large versions.
Among the specialties are Mexican pizza and chimichangas. The Chi-chi is described as a crisp flour tortilla layered with beef and beans and topped with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and sour cream ($6.39).
One item that draws the most attention is the Norwegian Taco. It’s served on a lightly deep fried pita, topped with beef, lettuce, cheese tomatoes and sour cream ($6.39).
It drew the attention of the crew from CBS Sunday Morning in town preparing a Grand Forks segment shown recently.
1218 S. Washington St., Grand Forks
Owners-operators: Angie Green, Joey Egstad.
Hours: 11 a.m. opening daily; closing 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 8:30 p.m. Sunday.
Telephone: (701) 775-3653.
Seating for 90.
Wine, beer available.
Report card: Low prices for good Mexican food bring customers back time and time again. Burritos are top sellers. Arched booths provide privacy. Seven tables in dining room provide seating for groups. Pleasing Mexican decor.
Reach Hagerty at email@example.com or (701) 772-1055.