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Published October 07, 2013, 10:00 PM

Review: Valley City house-turned-cafe offers Mexican standards with a twist

VALLEY CITY, N.D. - Abel Turrubiates is adding a little spice to the Valley City dining scene. While the dominant taste associated with the town remains Pizza Corner, the frozen pie manufactured here, Turrubiates serves savory dishes from his native Mexico at Another Time.

By: John Lamb, INFORUM

VALLEY CITY, N.D. - Abel Turrubiates is adding a little spice to the Valley City dining scene.

While the dominant taste associated with the town remains Pizza Corner, the frozen pie manufactured here, Turrubiates serves savory dishes from his native Mexico at Another Time.

The chef took over the house-turned-café at 106 5th Ave. S., earlier this year and in June switched to a full Mexican menu.

The menu is limited, but there is enough variety in the options, ensuring you’ll want to come back.

Most of the nine entrees served the night I was there were under $10, encouraging adventurous (and hungry) eaters to try more than one.

“It’s all based on what my mom cooked for me,” Turrubiates says.

His mother is from Guanajuato in North-Central Mexico. Bordered by the states of Jalisco to the west, Zacatecas to the northwest, fares of both regions crept into Mama Turrubiates’ cooking.

The chef himself comes from Tampico, Mexico, but moved to Texas when he was 9. He worked his way up to Moorhead, then Valley City where he worked blue-collar jobs before he finally took a chance on his dream to open a restaurant, a family affair with his teenage daughter Marisa working as a waitress.

“Either I’m going to make a catastrophe of this, or this is going to be fun,” he recalls thinking.

Luckily for Valley City diners, it was the latter that won out as his mother’s food scored on the Northern Plains. His acceptance by Valley City is reflected in his affectionate name for the eatery, Mi Pueblito, or “my little town.”

The Aztec Tortillas were his mother’s favorite, and it’s easy to see why. For $7 you get a homemade corn tortilla topped with chorizo sauce, butter, sour cream, and crumbly Mexican cheese.

The chorizo gives it a little buzz on the lips, but nothing too hot, unlike the green salsa, made with green jalapenos, fried onion with a little vinegar. Have a cool drink prepared to chase it down.

Until recently, the restaurant didn’t have a liquor license, meaning you’d have to wash down the green salsa with a soda, lemonade or water, all served in Mason jars. They now serve Corona and Pacifico beer.

Another Time is full of charming quirks. Most of the main floor is now spotted with tables, creating a cozy, perhaps cramped dining area.

If it’s nice out, the best seats are on a screened-in side porch, where the ceiling and railings are painted lime green. The side of the house a bright red matching some table covers which alternate between red and yellow, for an atmosphere as colorful as the menu.

There are standards, like tacos, burritos and quesadillas, but all with a twist. Tacos are filled with barbacoa (barbecued), slow-roasted and flavorful meat, while Texas tacos and burritos are packed with fajita fixings.

Turrubiates says Taco Jalisco remains the menu favorite with its mix of rice and beans, slices of fajita skirt steak, lettuce and tomato.

Try something different, like Zopez, and you won’t likely be disappointed. The $8-dish features two homemade tortilla cups, mounded with chicken or shredded beef, refried beans and topped with sour cream, white Mexican cheese, salsa, lettuce, tomato and onion.

Even the chips, free with an entrée, are a pleasant surprise. Made fresh from homemade corn tortillas, they are big and sturdy and not too salty.

If possible, save room for dessert. Turrubiates serves up a fine flan, but consider one of his homemade ice cream options. The night I was there, banana nut won over the cantaloupe flavor, a fulfilling (and filling) topper for the night.

“Everything I’ve eaten there is really good,” says Mary Ann Sheets, a regular, adding that the beef burrito is a favorite. “I think it’s a great addition to the city, and the food there is wonderful.”

“It’s been amazing,” Turrubiates says of the support he’s felt. “It seems like everyone embraced me as their own.”

He would like to expand to another location, but knows that will take a little while. For now, he’s happy making the most of his small space.

“I think it’s a gift from God,” Turrubiates says. “He wanted me to do this.”

Business Profile

What: Another Time

Owner: Abel Turrubiates

Where: 106, 5th Ave., S., Valley City, N.D.

Hours: 11 a.m. - 8:30 p.m., Tuesday - Saturday

Contact: (701) 845-3171


Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533

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