El Gordito Market carves out a niche, gains a dedicated following

    El Gordito Market is a shining star on Broadway in Crookston. The newer eatery offers more than just a quick lunch. Owner Orlando Carpano cooks up all different kinds of combinations for hungry people and maintains a full convenience-style store.    

    The market first opened in November 2009 on South Broadway next to the old Andy Oman State Farm building after Carpano saw the need for authentic items.    

    "There were people that would come up to me and ask where they could find a certain type of candy or soda and I would get it for them," said Carpano. "After I found that there was a higher demand, I thought about opening a store."   

    Carpano's mother, Julia Menjivar, joined in and they began their adventure.    

    Now at 214 North Broadway, the former Videos on Broadway building, they are bigger and better than ever.
What's cooking   

    El Gordito's menu offers some unique meat choices to go with their burritos or combination plates like cow cheek or tongue.   

    "There are some people that are scared to try it," jokes Carpano. "It's just shredded beef, but from a different part of the animal. It is actually quite good and is a tender choice."   

    Another popular item that comes and goes are tamales.    

    "We offer both Mexican and Salvadorian tamales," said Carpano. "Some times they go really quick and sometimes not."   

    Two items in the store that have "paid the bills" are the authentic candies and sodas.    

    Carpano said, "We have some different flavors and things that people can't get anywhere else."

Ideas for the future   

    While Carpano and his mother have previously partnered with places like Highland Elementary for the PTO Bingo and the Crookston V.F.W., they hope to open their doors to other opportunities.    

    "A neat idea that we have is to make a contest, like a five pound burrito eating contest, at the market," said Carpano. "If the person successfully eats it all, they would get their name on the wall or something. There are a lot of college kids that have said they'd like to try it."    

    Another idea that Carpano is thinking about is creating a "Speed Line" for people who have limited time on their lunch break.    

    "It would be a quick lunch where they would have 5 or 6 different choices of meat with rice and beans to create a burrito or plate," explains Carpano.    

    Whatever they decide to do next, Crookston is lucky to have them.