143 W. Mountain Ave.
Hours: Lunch Monday to Thursday: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Dinner Monday to Wednesday: 5 to 10 p.m.; Dinner Thursday: 5 to 10:30pm; Friday to Saturday: 11a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Sunday: 11a.m. to 10 p.m. (Open all day Friday to Sunday).
The Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant has been a staple to the Fort Collins restaurant scene since 1986 when it was founded by Pat McGaughran and Andre and Stephen Mouton. The restaurant has expanded since the beginning to create five other locations across Colorado.
Establishing a name for itself as a Tex Mex cuisine, the restaurant offers a variety of Mexican-style dishes and the Rio prides itself on its well-known margaritas made with a secret recipe.
The margaritas are served as mini or regular, frozen or on the rocks, along with frozen strawberry.
However, the authenticity of this restaurant's food doesn't shine through like it used to.
While the homemade chips and fresh spicy salsa definitely heat up the meal, some of the dishes are a little less flavorful than anticipated.
One of which is the Chalupas (corn tortilla, black beans, lettuce and tomatoes and choice of meat or cheeses including chicken and steak, all of which are served with guacamole, sour cream and/or cheese).
Whether the chef was having an off day or not, the anticipated Chicken Chalupa was served as a rather blandly seasoned dish resembling that of their Tostados Rio Grande (fried flour tortilla, black beans, lettuce, tomatoes and choice of chicken, steak or cheeses all served with either guacamole, sour cream and/or cheese).
Other items on the menu that do, however, have more appeal include the Rio Grande Fajitas (steak, grilled onions, peppers and tomatoes, Spanish rice, black beans, guacamole, sour cream, Pico de Gallo, flour tortillas), which can be served with chicken or veggies that offer bell peppers and yellow squash in addition to the other grilled veggies.
The Rio also offers a variety of burritos and other Tex Mex items including the Breakfast Burrito (scrambled eggs, cheese, flour tortilla and choice of sauce – including hot green chile, veggie green chile, mild ranchero), Flautas de Pollo (chicken, fried corn tortillas, sour cream, guacamole, with Spanish rice and black beans), Mahi Mahi Tacos (mahi mahi fish with spices, mango salsa, soft corn tortillas, steamed vegetables and Spanish rice) and Del Mar Enchiladas (Alaskan snow crab, shrimp baked and smothered with enchilada sauce, cheeses, served with black beans and rice).
The ambience and colorful surroundings of this restaurant along with the tasty margaritas keep this dining staple a favorite watering hole among locals, although the food doesn't quite keep them coming back.