Five generations of recipes and support have helped make Pablo’s Mexican Restaurant the high-quality family establishment it is today, its co-owner and others say.

Pablo’s has stood in downtown Shakopee for 32 years, churning out enchiladas, tacos, house-made salsa and other Mexican-by-way-of-California fare. Southwest News Media readers named it the top restaurant, top Mexican restaurant and top place to eat gluten-free in the 2018 Best of the Best competition.

Ron Schwaesdall, who co-owns the restaurant with his brother, Ed, thanked the restaurant’s supporters and said his family would keep on doing a great job.

“I take a lot of pride in it,” Schwaesdall said. The two brothers took over for their father, Pablo, in 2015.

Pablo Schwaesdall and his family lived in the San Diego area until he read an entrepreneurship magazine one day that said Minnesota was lacking in the Mexican food department. Within a few months, they set up in Shakopee, surrounded by farmland, Ron Schwaesdall said.

Most of the restaurant’s recipes come from Pablo Schwaesdall’s Latina mother and Mexican grandmother’s traditions, down to the single olive that tops many dishes for luck.

“That’s what I grew up with,” Ron Schwaesdall said.

These days, his wife, Nicole, as well as his brother’s wife and seven children among them all help out at the restaurant, whether it’s running the kitchen or waiting tables. Nicole Schwaesdall said at least one family member is always around to make sure everything’s right.

“We’re all-hands-on-deck, pretty much,” she said.

Ann Schwaesdall, the brothers’ mother, died about seven years ago. But Pablo Schwaesdall still comes around most weekends to visit every table and introduce himself.

The family and staff’s care results in such delectable menu items as carne asada tacos overflowing with guacamole, enchiladas topped with traditional or sour cream-chipotle sauce, and fried ice cream. The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday and also offers catering.

Judy Fournier of Prior Lake has been going to Pablo’s regularly since it opened, always for the lunch-size, enchilada-style grande burrito, she said before digging into one.

Fournier goes each winter to Arizona, no slouch in Mexican food, but “this is better,” she said of Pablo’s.

Ron Schwaesdall recalled working in the kitchen years ago with his brother and both parents, arguing with each other one minute and brushing it off the next to focus on the job.

“Mostly it’s good” working surrounded by family members, he said with a laugh, adding he couldn’t have taken over the restaurant without his brother.

“I take a lot of pride in it,” he said. “I think we do a really good job of it.”

Community editor

Dan Holtmeyer is the community editor for the Prior Lake and Savage papers. He grew up in Nebraska and worked as a journalist in Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas before coming to Minnesota in 2018.

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