Authentic Mexican food a big hit in Fountain eatery

FOUNTAIN, Minn. - Julie Kulsrud didn't know much about Mexican food when she decided to open her Mexican restaurant and cantina in Fountain.

Julie Kulsrud's restaurant, Los Gables, in Fountain will celebrate its five-year anniversary in June.

FOUNTAIN, Minn. - Julie Kulsrud didn't know much about Mexican food when she decided to open her Mexican restaurant and cantina in Fountain.

What she did know from her long career as a local waitress is she wanted to offer people something different.

"I thought Mexican was easier than Chinese," she said with a laugh recently, surrounded by her peach and yellow painted walls.

Even though some in the area doubted the business would make it, people are hooked once they try the food, she said.That has helped Los Gables survive a down economy and slow winter seasons. In June, the restaurant will reach its five-year anniversary.

"There's so many regulars that want us here," Kulsrud said.


The authentic Mexican food is credited to Margarita Gomez, who hails from a Mexican village. She taught Kulsrud how to prepare the cuisine and still works at the restaurant with her husband, Jose.

"She cooks it with love," Kulsrud said.

The two women met before Los Gables opened for business. Kulsrud's carpenter knew a neighbor who was trying to help a Mexican cook find a job. That led Kulsrud to Margarita, who was hired before Kulsrud even tasted her food.

They communicate even though they're not able to speak each other's languages. When needed, they turn to a Spanish-English translation book or call Margarita's daughter for help.

The food is not hot and spicy, unless a customer requests it. The menu offers American breakfasts alongside a breakfast burrito or Mexican-style eggs. Dinner options include tacos, burritos, fajitas, tostadas, enchiladas, chimichangas and quesadillas. Many meals come with a choice of ground beef, shredded beef, shredded pork, chicken, spicy chicken or shredded lamb. Desserts and a full bar are also available.

To please customers who might not want Mexican food, Los Gables' Friday night special is all you can eat barbecue pork ribs with a side of a creamy and cheesy potato, baked beans, rolls, coleslaw and sundae for $10.95.The Saturday night special is Whiskey steak, an 8-ounce marinated beef sirloin served with choice of potato, corn, toast and salad for $10.95.

Food is prepared from scratch, meats are cooked on site, eggs come from a local farmer and ground beef comes from the grass-fed cattle herd Root Prairie Galloways, raised by Brad and Leslea Hodgson of Fountain.

Customers eat in, order take out or grab food through the drive thru. The staff has been noted for being faster than some fast-food establishments, Kulsrud said. Outside seating is seasonally available.


Inside, the restaurant fills with natural light, chairs are painted bright, bold colors and pinatas, pictures, sombreros and marionettes hang from the walls. Customers donated many decorations and Kulsrud gives them credit by displaying their names next to their items. She brought back her own treasures when she made her first visit to Mexico last fall.

Los Gables recently sold T-shirts bearing its logo, beaded jewelry made by Margarita, a CD from The Irish Minstrels of Spring Valley, Minnesota Grown honey and syrup, Mexican vanilla and a book by a local author.

-Heather Thorstensen

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