Homestyle Mexican Food: Rio Grande Cafe

img_0634Set in the the repurposed old Rio Grande Train Station, the Rio Grande Cafe serves up some mean carnitas and a whole lot of other good foods.  It's sometimes overlooked with so many mexican food restaurants popping up around town, but the Rio Grande has the type of good solid menu that can keep you busy visit after visit.  I could write all day about how great their rellenos, chimichangas, and enchiladas are, but there are some other subtle reasons why the Rio Grande is a great choice for lunch or dinner.

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The Wait: If you know dining in Utah, you know that an hour wait at 7 pm on Friday or img_0643Saturday night is a standard deal.  I have never waited longer than 15 minutes at Rio Grande even on the busiest nights.  Plain and simple, they turn tables.

The Location: Rio Grande is located 1 block away from the Gateway downtown.  That means that on a Friday night, you can walk there and be seated faster than most Gateway restaurants. (Not a bad plan?)

img_0635The Atmosphere/Service: I have a hard time separating atmosphere and service.  I don't like to feel uncomfortable in even the fanciest restaurant.  Rio Grande has a nice outdoor area to sit and eat on a cool autumn evening, or the inside still has the same decor from the old train station.  The original counter and woodwork give the restaurant a lot of character.  You'll enjoy the laid back attitudes of the hostess and servers.  It's obvious they have been doing this a long time, because the never appear over rushed or pushy even on a busy night.  I never could get the full story on the life sized lady wrapped up in a taco.

Local Tip: Get the pollo cilantro.  You won't be sorry.  You can always get the carnitas next time.  You'll be back.

Details: Rio Grande Cafe | (801) 386-7185 | 270 S Rio Grande St (at W 300 S) SLC | Mon-Thurs: 11am-2:30pm & 5pm-9:30pm, Fri & Sat: 11:30am-2:30pm & 5pm-10:30pm, Sun: 4pm-9pm  Cost: $12-$17 per person