Tammy Hansen needs a Half Grinder now and then. So she stops by Red Pepper East when she gets into "the Forks'' from nearby Newfolden, Minn. A regular Grinder comes with white sauce, lettuce, hot sauce and a choice of ham, salami or turkey and Swiss cheese.

On a recent visit to Red Pepper East, she was making suggestions to Kari Lindemoen, also of Newfolden. She was helping Lindemoen order a gluten-free lunch-a beef tostada.

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And she pointed out, "Tacos are gluten free."

People looking for a quick meal at Red Pepper East just line up at the counter. They speak their wishes. They pay as they get their food. Then they either take it out or find a place in the large, light and bright room. Here the floor is finished in squares of red and white. There are tables and booths.

And the room is enhanced by cheery paintings on the walls done several years ago by A.J. Rand and Nancy Thompson Froseth of East Grand Forks.

Red Pepper East had its beginnings with the Red Peppers operated by the late Bruce Tellmann and his family in Grand Forks. Later it became a separate entity in East Grand Forks and is owned by Vicki Ryan. Shelley Flaten has been on the job as manager for 25 years.

The menu features Mexican choices of tacos, burritos, tostadas, enchiladas and a taco salad.

Appetizers include nachos and several versions of potato skins. And there are breaded mushrooms and cauliflower along with cheese sticks and corn dog bites.

All of this is listed on the wall behind the counters. Most customers seem to know exactly what they want when they line up at the counter.

Some of them started out as customers when they were attending East Grand Forks Senior High, which is nearby. Now their children are coming in.

On my recent visit I was impressed by the friendly greeting and helpful ways of Ariel Redman at the counter.

She's been on the job for a year, and she said, "I love it here."

Red Pepper East

1504 Central Ave. NE

East Grand Forks, Minn.

Telephone: (218) 773-6344

Report card: Mexican fare in an inviting lunchroom with attractive wall paintings and hanging baskets of permanent greens. Moderate prices for Mexican fare. Top of the line grinders come with white sauce, lettuce, hot sauce and a choice of ham, salami, turkey and Swiss cheese.

Reach Marilyn Hagerty at mhagerty@gra.midco.com or by telephone at (701) 772-1055.