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Marilyn Hagerty, Grand Forks Herald , Published June 27 2012

The Eatbeat: Paradiso's chimichanga more than enough

GRAND FORKS - A giant tortilla stuffed with nicely seasoned and finely ground beef appeared when I ordered a chimichanga at Paradiso Mexican Restaurant.

One of the assistant managers had told me this is a signature item of the large and attractive eatery, which has been a fixture on South Washington Street since 1976.

I chose ground beef for my chimi, but it also comes in versions with shredded beef, shredded chicken or seafood. It was nicely flavored, drizzled with gravy and blended well with the Spanish rice and refried beans and served on a huge plate with a colorful orange border. It was hot, hot, hot.

I enjoyed the chimi and the rice but really didn’t care much for the refried beans. My companion, Sue Huus (SH), reminded me how good they are for me. Still, next time, I will do without them. I would rather eat real beans.

The dinner, overall, was tasty but also far more than the average person would eat. And if they’re like me, they earlier overdid it on chips and sauce.

I ended up taking part of my Mexican meal home in a to-go box. No longer do we have to apologize and giggle and ask for a “doggy bag.”

The chimi dinner is served with shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes and sour cream topping for $11.99. We added a cola for $2.50 — SH and I agree this seems almost necessary — and the cost of the meal went up to about $14.50, without tip. For the customer’s convenience, tips of 15 percent, 18 percent and 20 percent are calculated on the bill.

Paradiso has nightly specials after 9 p.m. Queso Fundido, one of several on the menu, is a cheese dip served hot from the oven. Other specials include mini-superburritos.

The restaurant has a series of seating areas, and with my two granddaughters, I recently sat in the rear of the restaurant where a skylight brightens the serving area. This was pleasant for the two 13-year-old twins from Colorado who tend to keep things simple when they eat out.

Anna Werner ordered a cheese enchilada and Mariah Werner a giant taco. We demolished a bowl or two of the chunky red sauce with chips. The sauce is especially inviting with its chopped tomatoes and mild flavor. It has a tad more personality than the sauce you get at most Mexican restaurants.

Although I never have seen anyone eating a hamburger at Paradiso, the menu lists a burger platter served with fajita fries and a garden salad ($8.99).

The menu is extensive. The restaurant is spacious and inviting with a large waiting area for busy times.

There are pluses and minuses. On one visit, the menu was sticky. On another visit, I felt rushed by a server who came around with the check before we were half finished eating.

Usually, though, visits to Paradiso have more positives. And the loyal following seems to attest to the quality of food and service.

Kai Anderson, an assistant manager, said some customers show up two or three times a week.