El Paraiso recalls the sounds and flavors of Mexico.
Here’s a weird story. My husband and I spent a couple of nights at the super-comfy Inn at Tomichi Village on the east end of Gunnison. We ate in the inn’s Blue Mesa Grill the first night. The next morning, as we were driving to Crested Butte — just before the right turn onto Highway 135 — I said, “Look there’s a Mexican restaurant.” My husband, always on the hunt for south-of-the-border fare, saw it too — there on the left side of US 50. When we returned from skiing, we somehow missed it. That evening, we looked for it again, and it wasn’t there. When I later told a local friend about the vanished restaurant, she said, “There used to be one there.” Had we driven through a few yards of The Twilight Zone?
One way or another, we were in the mood for Mexican. I was almost deterred by the words “Family Mexican Restaurant” on El Paraiso’s sign, because “family restaurant” usually mens bland, flavor-deprived food. But we decided to give it a try. Happily, it turns out. Located just off the main drag, it looked like a former house. Inside, it is tricked out with serapes and other Mexicana. Cheerful Mexican music is piped into the dining room, and the welcome was hearty. We slipped into a booth, started munching on complimentary chips and salsa as we waited for our margaritas (a happy hour steal at $5, because we ordered before 6). The food was really good, the portions really generous and the prices really reasonable.
Time to eat. The crisp chips and the Guadalajara-style salsa are a really good start to a Mexican meal, especially with a tasty margarita.
There is also a sister Paraiso Restaurant in Buena Vista, which urbanspoon.com does know about. They haven’t yet discovered the one in Gunnison that is at 112 South Main Street; 970-641-4957.