jasonc

Uncle Julio's Rio Grande Cafe - Texas-Based Tex-Mex Chain in Several Area Locations

71 posts in this topic

I have a pretty interesting story about Rio Grande.

You see, there was this guy, pretty average in most respects. He was hungry one day and happened to stop into Rio Grande. He ordered a meal and consumed it, it doesn't really matter what it was. It wasn't the best meal he had ever had and it certainly wasn't the worst. It got the job done, though. The waitstaff was quick - not overly fast or anything and not too slow. They were also fairly pleasant. Nothing over the top, just pleasant. The man paid with his credit card and exited the restaurant. Three weeks later he received his credit card bill, which included the purchase at Rio Grande. He then paid his credit card bill, thus completing the transaction.

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I have had a similiar experience there. But when I went the beer was really cold and served with a frosty mug and was not Corona.

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I have a pretty interesting story about Rio Grande.

You see, there was this guy, pretty average in most respects.  He was hungry one day and happened to stop into Rio Grande.  He ordered a meal and consumed it, it doesn't really matter what it was.  It wasn't the best meal he had ever had and it certainly wasn't the worst.  It got the job done, though.  The waitstaff was quick - not overly fast or anything and not too slow.  They were also fairly pleasant.  Nothing over the top, just pleasant.  The man paid with his credit card and exited the restaurant.  Three weeks later he received his credit card bill, which included the purchase at Rio Grande.  He then paid his credit card bill, thus completing the transaction.

And I suppose they filled his water glass when it was empty, no?

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And I recall that the margaritas are cold enough go give you "brain freeze" on a hot day. devil10.gif

edited to experiment with external smilies.

Edited by Jacques Gastreaux

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I have a pretty interesting story about Rio Grande.

You see, there was this guy, pretty average in most respects.  He was hungry one day and happened to stop into Rio Grande.  He ordered a meal and consumed it, it doesn't really matter what it was.  It wasn't the best meal he had ever had and it certainly wasn't the worst.  It got the job done, though.  The waitstaff was quick - not overly fast or anything and not too slow.  They were also fairly pleasant.  Nothing over the top, just pleasant.  The man paid with his credit card and exited the restaurant.  Three weeks later he received his credit card bill, which included the purchase at Rio Grande.  He then paid his credit card bill, thus completing the transaction.

:P

You captured it perfectly.

:wub:

Post of the month nominee.

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Rio Grande is good, man!

Good?

I think "competent" is the adjective you're looking for.

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I'm a fan of their fajitas, but not of the 45 minute waits that occur at lunchtime at the Reston Town Center location.

RG fits in that group of places like Clydes and the Great American places. They do a (mostly) good job turning out mainstream, middle-of-the-road, crowd-pleasing food.

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Rio Grande is good, man!

Have you guys seen that Uncle Julio truck driving around town?

I have a thing for their salsa and chips. On a hot day, with a cold beer and good company it's not a bad way to spend an hour. The camarones diablo 'aint to bad either.

I worked at the old Bethesda location as a hostess about 12 years ago (for two weeks) and it was amazing how quickly one masters the art of sneaking chips and salsa during a long shift.

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RG fits in that group of places like Clydes and the Great American places.  They do a (mostly) good job turning out mainstream, middle-of-the-road, crowd-pleasing food.

It's where we take the kids sometimes. Their kids menu is more interesting than most places, and mine love the tortilla machine.

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Yes Rio Grande is... well what it is. Acceptable TexMex. Highly popular with the tell-tale longish wait for a table on wkends and sometimes other nights. Cold beer and frosty margaritas. I enjoy the fajitas. Nuf said? scratchchin.gif

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Great, now I've got a craving for Texidorean food. I should stop reading this forum, its making me fat.

Wait, no, that's the eating. Sorry. Mixing up potential fooding with actual again.

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My Dad likes to go every year for his Bday, but it has to be on a Thursday 'cuz that's the only day they serve goat. (at least in Bethesda) From what I understand, the rest of the menu is pretty much run of the mill. Has anyone else tried the goat?

Edited by squidsdc

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I like their nachos because they're individually topped, not a big pile where the chips underneath get no cheese.

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... not a big pile where the chips underneath get no cheese.

Like the icky ones at Merkado.

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I have only been once. The food was fine, inoffensive, but I didn't get the fuss over the frozen sangria. Ick.

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My Dad likes to go every year for his Bday, but it has to be on a Thursday 'cuz that's the only day they serve goat. (at least in Bethesda) From what I understand, the rest of the menu is pretty much run of the mill. Has anyone else tried the goat?

We were there a few months back, and the Thursday goat was no longer on the menu. Don't know if that was a temporary thing, but you might want to call first.

In the past, the goat was very very good. In fact, it was the only thing that differentiated Rio Grande from any of the other chain Tex Mex places in the area, IMHO.

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No one has mentioned Rio Grande.....is that it?

I forgot about Rio Grande - we haven't been there in so long. Not as good as Austin Grill, in my wife's opinion, but back when they used to serve Cabrito (baby goat) on a regular basis, it was on our dinner rotation.

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I have sworn off eating at Rio Grande... I've never had anything above mediocre there, and one bad meal (well just cold) pushed me over the edge. Same meal, my vegetarian friend got chicken in her spinach enchilada...

I like Guajillo... for the mini-chains, I've always liked Guapo's.

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I find the newish Rio Grande in Fairfax Corner to perform better than some of the others. Then again, I pretty much only eat there after 10PM after I've been stuck in my "real" job very late.

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I eat lunch at the one at Rio in Gaithersburg from time to time. Never great, but invariably competent, with good lunch specials. I can still remember years ago, when it was reportedly George HW Bush's go-to place for Tex-Mex and it had a semi-permanent spot in the Washingtonian's Top 100.

The food seems pretty much the same to me as it was then, but there are now places that are better.

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I had lunch at the Balston Rio Grande today, and it was pretty good. Excellent, thin, crisp tortilla chips with so-so salsa. I was astonished to see "Herschel's Platter" on the menu (my name being Herschel), so I simply had to order it. Way too much food, but mostly quite good. A chicken enchilada, a chile relleno, a pork tamal, a soft grilled beef taco (the taco was soft; the beef was chewy but fine), a mound of pretty good guacamole, some indifferent rice, pico de gallo. The enchilada and the chile relleno were both nicely done and very tasty. I chose the green sauce, which was spicy and tangy and good. The one clear dog on the plate was the tamal, which was a heavy, doughy, tough, leaden disaster. So does anybody know who Herschel is, in the Uncle Julio world? There aren't many of us with the name out there, and even fewer, I would think, with a connection to Mexican food.

One annoying thing about this place: The staff seems to be trained not merely to address guests as "guys", but to do so relentlessly. My party was one man (me) and one woman, and our server added "guys" at the end of every single sentence that she addressed to us. We spent about an hour and a half over lunch, and we must have been called "guys" at least thirty times. Then as we were leaving, as we passed the hostess's station by the front door, she said "bye, guys". Do these poor folks get fined if they forget to say "guys" every three seconds?

But all in all, not a bad place for a chain. A whole lot better than Guapo's, nowadays.

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Rio Grande is to Tex-Mex what Cracker Barrel is to Southern food.

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Rio Grande is to Tex-Mex what Cracker Barrel is to Southern food.

Of course because we have so many other better selections out there, like "On the Border" or "Chevy's". No, Rio Grande is not then end all be all of Tex-Mex, but it is much better than most of the other crap that is available. And the tortilla chips are much better than most places.

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Rio Grande is to Tex-Mex what Cracker Barrel is to Southern food.

I strongly disagree with this. The Dallas Morning News gives Uncle Julio's (Rio Grande in Texas where it originated) three stars which is the second highest rating of the Tex Mex restaurants in Dallas. Ciudad which has four and is indeed excellent is "authentic" Mexican. This is the link for the Dallas Morning News capsule review: http://www.guidelive.com/portal/page?_page...L&item_id=10372 Uncle Julio's and Pappasito's which are both enormously popular in Texas are very, very good for what they are: fajitas, excellent chips, good Margueritas and some specials. They are not mom and pop neighborhood places (which may be the best of all but there are only a handful of these around anymore); rather they are seemingly cavernous eating halls piling huge amounts of good to very good food (fajitas are very good) on plates to crowds that still wait an hour or more for a table after over twenty plus years of operation.

When the Austin Grill opened on Wisconsin Avenue in the early '80's it was outstanding. Of course then there were only a couple of Rio Grandes and Washingtonian-even then-regarded Rio Grande as better. Today, Rio Grande is 90% as good as it was then. The Rio Grandes in D. C. are comparable to the Uncle Julios in Texas which have the identical menu. The Austin Grill which may now be a larger chain has little in common with the original.

I stand by my comments about Guajillo as D. C.'s best Tex Mex. GO FOR THE DAILY SPECIALS. ANY daily special and order that. For me Guajillo is a special restaurant which we (or someone in, say, Dallas) would be lucky to have.

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