The Crookston Area Chamber Ambassadors gathered to recognize and congratulate a very exceptional business in the Crookston community, El Gordito, an authentic Mexican restaurant. Julia Mejia, co-owner, greeted the ambassadors with a smile, and a very important question, “hard shell or soft shell?” Following the photo for the news release, she got down to what she does best, delivering delicious dishes.

The family restaurant is a sure win when looking for authentic cuisine, which goes far beyond tacos and burritos. Julia along with co-owner and son, Orlando Carpano, make quite the duo when bringing a taste of Mexico to Crookston. The atmosphere is bright and colorful and full of genuine smells from the kitchen. Julia and Orlando have been partners since 2009. They shut down the Crookston location due to COVID and a shortage of workers. Orlando tried to manage whatever he could to re-open; it’s a smaller version of what they used to be, but the same great food. They were happy to re-open their doors and are trying to do the best they can. Orlando shared in a telephone conversation, “we are happy to be back in Crookston. This is our community; we are hard at it and will keep going. It’s a struggle, but we are still here.” Their Facebook page is El Gordito Market, and their phone number is 218-470-1099. Stop in for the dine-in option or take advantage of their in-store pickup.

If you are interested in becoming a member of the Ambassador Team, please contact Mark Landa at or 218-281-4320.

Pictured in front left to right is: Dana Jonsson (First Community Credit Union/Chamber), Julia Mejia (El Gordito), Mark Landa (Chamber Executive Director), Sherry Coauette (LeBlanc Realty). Back row: Shayla Solberg (Altru Health System), Brooke Novak (University of Minnesota Crookston/Chamber), Andy Hall (Sweetlight Gallery/Chamber), Christine Anderson (University of Minnesota Crookston), Lindsey Erdman (Benedictine Living Community Crookston), Lance Norman (RiverView Health/Chamber).