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Mexican Village Restaurant  |  St. Cloud, MN

Mexican Village Restaurant | St. Cloud, MN

Festive and fun spot with Mexican comfort classics

By most any telling, there are many things to love about Mexican Village Restaurant in St. Cloud, Minn. Distinguishing traits have made it a hometown favorite since the 1970s. Its menu of crave-worthy Mexican standards has all the must-haves along with unexpected additions that keep things fresh and lively. Staff turnover is low so chances are very good that diners will see a familiar face or two among the reliably friendly and well-trained service team. Drinks are excellent and prices across the whole menu are carefully set so that guests feel good about the value. But perhaps best of all, says owner Greg Warnert, is that the restaurant is tightly woven into the community, ensuring that a welcoming sense of hospitality colors every transaction.

“I grew up around here. It’s my home and it is important for me that the restaurant feels authentic, true and timeless,” says Warnert, adding that he believes that Mexican Village succeeds on that level. “I run into people all the time that came in as children with their parents and now they’re moms and dads bringing in theirs. There’s great continuity.”

St. Cloud, with a population of about 66,000, serves as an urban hub for the central part of the state and Warnert says that expands the population base to about 200,000 or so. It also is home to St. Cloud State University, the state’s third largest school, bringing with that a sense of vitality and a continual stream of newcomers. The restaurant is in the historic downtown area and that, too, adds vibrancy to the customer base. But even with those inherent locational advantages, Warnert understands the need to stay current and relevant.

“The needs of our customers are constantly evolving. They travel and dine out much more. What they compare us against has changed and we have to be aware of that, making sure they continue to be happy here,” Warnert notes.

Much-loved menu stalwarts such as burritos, chimichangas, fajitas and enchiladas remain high on the hit parade. Warnert says that the much-loved items are better than ever, thanks to the quality of products now available from suppliers. “The freshness and variety today versus even 10 years ago is much improved. Things that used to be out of reach are easily available. It makes a big difference,” he adds.

Staying true to the core Mexican menu is important to Warnert but that still leaves room for innovation. “We add new things to keep interest high,” he says, acknowledging that nothing so far has nudged the top sellers from their perch. “Most guests come in here knowing exactly what they’ll order, their tried-and-true favorite that they had the last time and the time before.”

Warnert posts regular Sunday through Thursday promotions on the restaurant’s website—fajita Tuesdays, top-shelf Thursdays among them. Their main function, he says, is to remind frequent guests that they can come in any night and enjoy good value. By far the most popular offer is the birthday club; members get a free meal on their big day. “They often come in with a large group and celebrate. It’s a lot of fun for them and brings excitement to the dining room,” he says.

And that’s exactly the point; the welcoming sense of fun is something he wants everyone in the community to experience when they are at Mexican Village. Asked to comment on how he’d like guests to describe Mexican Village, Warnert says, “That we’re a consistent and friendly place that serves a high-quality product at a fair value. And that we treat everyone, especially our employees, fairly and well.”

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