I grew up for most of my life is a medium-sized town in Southern Minnesota (Mankato ... for those who know their Minnesota locations). About 50-ish thousand people I think. Big university. A couple of high schools. Big enough to not know your neighbor. And, only an hour and a half from the Twin Cities (and an international airport) - thank god.
Mankato has come a long way since I was young, that's for sure. They have more nice restaurants now, to be sure. But when I was growing up, there was the Applebee's, the Red Lobster, and this local place called Mexican Village. For the latter ... think totally over-the-top fake Mexican.
Mexican Village was a fun place to go, a special-occasion place to go. When it was your birthday, they would come around with a sombrero and sing Happy Birthday. You'd put on the sombrero and they would take a Polaroid pic that you got to take home in a little card holder. I have some good memories there. We had a big party there once that had special meaning for my family. We took my grandma and grandpa there when they came to visit from Europe. Etc. Good times.
The other days, thanks to my FB feed and all those people I am friends with from Kato, I found out that Mexican Village is closing in May after 33 years. Sad. I hadn't been there in years, but it felt like the end of something. It got me to thinking about the decor and all my memories.
So, when I went to Kato this past week, we made it to the Village on Friday night. The place was packed! Apparently, this is a result of the closing news ... it had been pretty quiet before that. But the place was just as I remember. Right at the door, in the waiting area, there is this mural of town-center-type scene from Mexico with ALLLLLL sorts of famous people painted in. Hello Kitty. Princess Diana. Captain Jack Sparrow. Austin Powers. Obama. Woody and Buzz Lightyear. Etc.
Once inside, you still have the little courtyard with the fountain and fake trees. All the over the top decor and photos and frames, etc.
And let's not forget the margaritas. Brain freeze!
Keep the chips and salsa coming!
And the food. What can I say? It's food ... it's not great. It's not authentic, but it's about the experience and the memories.