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Ole! Vallartas Mexican Grill opens

Pedro Unzueta, who grew up in Mexico, stresses "fresh" foods and customer satisfaction. (Jean Ruzicka / Enterprise)

Vallartas Mexican Grill, opening this week in Armory Square, is satisfying a yearning for south of the border cuisine.

Distinctive, handmade furniture from Guadalajara greets clientele arriving to sample the classic Mexican menu.

Co-owners Pedro Unzueta and Sergio Barajas, who both grew up in Mexico, stress "fresh" as a key component.

"Fresh food is best for the customer. Everything is made here," Unzueta explained - from the chips, to refried beans to rice. "It's all made here."

And that includes their signature Tequila Burrito. "It's the best," Unzueta promises of the "huge burrito" boasting steak, chicken and shrimp, along with veggies, rice and beans. "Everyone loves it."

The menu includes enchiladas, burritos, fajitas, quesadillas and carnitas, with several combinations. Vegetarian options, salads and a kids' menu are available. Ala carte items, appetizers and Americano hamburgers, chicken sandwiches and steaks are also options.

The food, Unzueta said, is tasty, not spicy. "But we can make it spicy."

Vallartas has a full bar, serving margaritas, wine, beer and other libations.

Lunch prices range from $6.75 to $8 and dinners $8 to $13. Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily. Catering and to-go orders are available. Reservations are appreciated.

The "family friendly" restaurants engage spouses - Anai, who's Pedro's wife, and Rosa, Sergio's wife. Lizz Trenkenschuh is manager. The store will employ 13 to 15 "people from the area," with more to be added come summer.

An open kitchen area invites an audience.

The partners are owners of El Tequilas in Baxter, the food earning rave reviews online. They have opened and sold Mexican restaurants in Fergus Falls and Wadena.

"We like this area," Unzueta, the father of four said. "It's safe and friendly. We like it here.

"We want to make sure everyone is happy," said Unzueta, who began cooking and waiting tables at 12, emigrating to the U.S. at 19.

And to that end, they will be at the door "to make sure everything's perfect. If we make a mistake, it will be corrected.

"We want to be here a long time, to make friends," he said.

Phone 237-2380 for reservations.