THE EATBEAT: Crookston’s El Metate touts tasty, large portions with pleasant surroundingsLunch specials are served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily at El Metate restaurant in Crookston, and my choice on a recent visit was the “Guadalajara Plate” for $7.75.
By: Marilyn Hagerty, Grand Forks Herald
Lunch specials are served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily at El Metate restaurant in Crookston, and my choice on a recent visit was the “Guadalajara Plate” for $7.75.
This brought me a ground beef burrito and enchilada topped with red sauce, along with a taco and bean chalupa. The food tasted better to me than most mass produced food you get at many Mexican restaurants. It seemed more authentic with servers and kitchen workers who spoke Spanish as well as English.
I drove to Crookston with a granddaughter, Anne Sandstrom (AS), who will be a senior at Century High School in Bismarck. She has always been selective about the food she eats. You might even call it picky.
But she was game to try out El Metate, and she ordered a cheese quesadilla and fries. To her credit, she asked for water — she never has been a fan of fountain drinks.
AS was a happy camper, and I was well-pleased with my meal. The obligatory chips were crisp. The food was mildly flavored, and there was too much. So, I took a box home, thinking it probably would end up in the garbage. Instead, it was so good the second time around that I ate the whole serving. The food passed the test of being tasty in the restaurant and still appealing the next day.
AS noted that the chips that preceded our El Metate meal were not too salty. They were served with little vats of hot sauce — a nice touch. Her fries were a cut above average — better than most.
My Guadalajara plate was a good combination, nicely flavored and easy to eat. The surroundings are inviting and pleasant in a building near the University of Minnesota-Crookston that used to house a Pizza Hut.
Since it has become a Mexican restaurant, it has colorful orange walls with red upholstery here and there. The booths are roomy. There are touches such as Mexican sombreros that help set the scene, but the place maintains an uncluttered feel. The staff is friendly.
The dinner menu has a wide variety of choices including Camaron Al Mojo De Ajo, made with large garlic shrimp and spicy green sauce served with rice and salad for $12.50.
One of the best sellers is called Fajita Vallarta made with spicy chorizo sausage, steak, chicken, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, rice and beans, sour cream, salad and tortillas for $14.
The next time I stop at El Metate, I plan to order a new dinner item, Taco El Metate ($8). It is made with grilled chicken cooked with onion, mushroom and chipotle sauce on a flour tortilla with sour cream, lettuce, guacamole and pico de gallo. All this, with cheese on top.
The restaurant runs specials for children on Sundays. Its busiest day is Friday. There are specials from Sunday through Wednesday.
You wonder: What is a metate? The menu explains it is a type of stone that used to be necessary in Mexico to process corn grains for tortillas and other foods.
El Metate Mexican Restaurant
Owner: Ostodio Martinez
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 9:30 p.m. closing Friday, Saturday
Telephone: (218) 281-9595.
Report card: Wide range of authentic Mexican food served in pleasant, clean feeling, colorful setting. Extensive menu. Staff members speak Spanish as well as English and are very friendly. Prices are reasonable.
Reach Hagerty at email@example.com or at (701) 772-1055.