Because it is large with a wide variety of choices, Paradiso Mexican Restaurant draws customers to South Washington Street. The extensive parking areas along with attractive landscaping make the restaurant especially inviting.

Once inside, the welcome is especially well arranged with a hostess guiding customers to seating.

The menu features an original or mango guacamole among its appetizers. And manager Kelly Eichorst says the burritos featured on Mondays are best sellers.

Eichorst has been with Paradiso since he started as a busboy and dishwasher 25 years ago. He oversees the work in the kitchen and the service in the dining areas.

The Grand Forks Paradiso is one of five in North Dakota operated by Atlas Corp. Others are in Bismarck, Fargo, Minot and Jamestown.

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Quite often, it’s a server who makes or breaks the restaurant visit. This week, my server Elena Bissonette was especially cheery and helpful. This summer she has been one of 96 employees at Paradiso. Soon she will be on her way to college at St. Scholastica in Duluth.

As I was seeking a fine finish to lunch, she guided me to fried ice cream. It came with a crunchy coating. And though it cost $4.99, it was a sweet ending.

If you go

What: Paradiso Mexican Restaurant

Where: 905 S. Washington St.

Call: 701-772-3000

Owner: Atlas Corporation

Manager: Kelly Eichorst

Seating capacity: 368

Hours: 11 a.m. daily with closing at 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday

Report card: Wide variety of Mexican food in large, especially attractive setting. Service is well organized. Welcome area with seating for up to 368 is a plus. The average tab is $14.35.

Cooking 4-H style

Along with the visit to Paradiso, the path of the Eat Beat led to the second annual 4-H Club Battle of the Forks contest.

Three teams demonstrated cooking, budgeting and speaking skills Saturday at the Town Square Farmers’ Market.

First-place winners were the Kitchen Angels, including Rose Kraemer and Michael Komprood. They prepared egg rolls in a bowl.

Second place went to Leah Mehling with an entry of kabobs called Road Kill Grill.

The third-place winners were Linus Carlson, Agnes Carlson and Sam Bussian. They came up with egg rolls.

Reach Marilyn Hagerty at or by telephone at 701-772-1055.