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The Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant - 31 Reviews - 301 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701, Austin, TX - Restaurants Reviews - Phone (512) 476-8300

The Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant

301 San Jacinto Blvd, Austin, TX 78701
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 476-8300
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I am normally the BIG MEXICAN that eveyone ask where to go eat. I made the call RIO GRANDE and I should had ran for the BORDER. Let me start with the positive: the drinks...stro...



Margaritas were STRONG & the queso was HOT! 10/13/2009

Went here with a large group for a work happy hour. Had a good time, great drinks, plenty of food options that were great for sharing. Pros: Great place for groups! Cons: Lack of street parking but valet is ok for $6 more

Awesome Margarita's 10/12/2009

I went to Rio and took them up on the margarita coupon they have listed on Citysearch and was not disappointed at all! VERY good margarita's and good happy hour pricing on food. Definantely going to be of my spots to hit for happy hour from now on! Pros: Great Margarita's more

Great Margaritas, Close to Downtown 10/12/2009

Pay attention to the warning on the menu because their margaritas don't mess around. I had 2 and definitely got my money's worth. LOVE IT and love their location in the middle of downtown Austin. This is a great spot to grab a drink with friends after work or before a night on the town - especially with their close vicinity to 6th St and the Warehouse District. We ordered both the Chile Con Queso and the Scratch Guacamole which were both good. My only suggestion would be to give their salsa a little more kick. Overall, nice atmosphere, good service, and some tasty drinks and Mexican food. more

Great Happy Hour 10/11/2009

Great Margaritas and beer prices. I had a Rio Grande house margarita. It was perhaps the best I have ever had. Be careful. they are strong and can sneak up on you. Pros: Appetzers more

Great Place 4/25/2009

Great GreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreatGreat Great Pros: Best Cons: Simply Nothing more

Horrible 4/15/2009

The first time I had dinner at this place it was ok.. so I went back to give it another try. First the service was horrible! The waiters are very very slow to bring out food and drinks. We waited 45min to get our food they never brought out water and chips we had to ask for it. We had to ask for our bill.. Boy they were quick to bring us our check though I will never go back there again! Pros: no good customer service and pricey more

Wood-fired Grill is an interesting addition 12/8/2008

I've lived in Texas all of my life and have had my share of "Tex-Mex" and what I've found in my experiences is that places either execute poorly and sloppy, or they keep the par. What makes places stick out is their twist on the menu. Let's face it, Tex-Mex is simple. The plates should be as well. There's nothing spectacular about the cuisine and I think that's why it appeals to so many people. I usually just cook the stuff at home, but if I DO go out, I go to a specific place for a specific thing. And with the Rio, I go for the atmosphere and clean, fresh food, and of course, the booze. I go there before bouncing around other places to put some grub and drink and enjoy the company I'm in. I like their beer selection--nothing crazy--the bar has what it needs to satisfy any palate. I don't like how the liquor is limited to tequila, but hey, when in Rome...Now, margaritas are fine for hanging around in the summer, but when it's cold out, i'll go for the good stuff "neat" and sip. I think they have something like 15 or so quality blue agave tequilas so the hardest part is choosing which one. I don't know about the no Grand Ma in the Top Shelf issue though but I was taught: never ASSuME. Ask for it. The staff for the most part is extremely friendly and seem to really enjoy showing you a decent time! As for the food, I like the wood-fired grill--it's a change from Austin standard. I think it's the wood that you're tasting, NOT liquid smoke or "burn". The salsa is simple, tasty and gets the job done, if not you can get the spicier one. Tex-mex in Austin loves crazy sauces & melted cheese. The Rio doesn't fall into that mess and I like that--it's their twist. You're not tasting sauce, you're tasting the food. I think the way to go at this place are knife-n-fork burritos, seafood ench, or smoked tacos.Judging Tex-Mex by fajitas is lame since the cut is horrible anyway. The best are done at home. I say: go in grab a bite and enjoy yourself more

THEY USED TO BE GOOD - New Mgmt? 11/6/2008

This place had good food once upon a time. Maybe the management has changed - I'm not sure. However, I there in October 2008 and was hugely disappointed. I intended to take 8 co-workers from Chicago out for "authentic Tex-Mex" and what I got was anything but authentic. The beans were completely inedible. The flavor, texture and even smell was disgusting. I couldn't touch them. In a previous review someone said the Fajitas had a ?burnt? flavor. I know exactly what he mean but I?ll go one step further. That flavor he was describing is ?Liquid-Smoke?. It made the fajitas taste burnt and chemically unnatural. NO ONE liked their food. Honestly, I?ve only had worse Mexican food once in my life and that was in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania at a restaurant that was once a McDonald?s. HOW CAN THIS PLACE HAVE A 4.5 STAR RATING? Just look at the combined reviews. There are more ratings below 3 Start than anything else. It?s a City-Search conspiracy :-0 Pros: If all you want is an $8 margarita this would be suitable. Cons: Everything else more

Good servers! 8/11/2008

I've lived in Austin a little over a year but have had little time to dine out. This past week a friend of mine was visiting town so I finally got an excuse to venture out and do some exploring. The concierge at my friend's hotel recommended 'the Rio" to him, so we decided to grab a bite before heading out on the town. When we arrived I immediately noticed the large number of beautiful women working at the restaurant. Even the manager was cute. Whoever is doing the hiring at this place, keep it up! We grabbed a seat near the bar and ordered a couple of margaritas and some 'surf and turf' tacos. Our drinks arrived quickly and were surprisingly strong. The food arrived shortly thereafter. I was impressed by the quality of the shrimp and tenderloin and enjoyed the fresh flour tortillas immensely. We ended up sticking around for a few more drinks so we could enjoy the 'scenery'. The food and drinks were good enough to bring me back to the Rio by themselves, but the quality of the staff sealed the deal for me. I will most definitely be back again soon. more

What A Joke! 6/22/2008

This place is as terrible as it is gimmicky! They are very proud of their mediocre food and charge unreasonably for it ( $17 for 6 shrimp, $15 for two tacos- okay if they're good, but they're not). The service is terrible, and the margaritas... how they were voted the BEST alludes me. A top shelf margarita has Grand Marnier... it just does. Everywhere you go that's what "top shelf" means. Not here. These cheapies just give you a "better tequilla." Really it's already supposed to have a better tequilla. They cut corners wherever they can (food, service, drinks, etc.) and it is apparent. This place is a joke. Pros: building is intersting Cons: you can't eat the building more

Mexican Food? 4/29/2008

I went to this place thinking, "I've heard it advertised as pretty good, let me go check it out." Keep in mind, that this was my 4th option on what was a very busy Wednesday afternoon lunch hour. I waited about 15 minutes to be seated. I ordered the chicken burrito and my girlfriend ordered the chicken fajitas. This food wouldn't even pass for mexican food if you didn't even know what mexican food was... call me spolied, or call it that I've had better quality food off of construction site taco trailers. It was definitely a white-person attempt at mexican food (no offense, I am white myself). It remined me of what my parents would pass off as mexican food in northern Michigan. Although my burrito was rather large, it was very sloppy and soggy-almost watery. The fajitas had what totaled 5 small strips of chicken- they reminded me of the generic pre-made fajita strips you can buy at HEB. And the taste was awful... another reviewer put it best that they tasted like a smokey Worchestershire sauce. The tortillas were okay, but seemed like the kind you would buy in the store, not the homemade version that so many of the mexican restuarants in Austin use. And what they tried to pass off as sopapillas were just awful. I will admit that the waitstaff was curtious. My girlfriend had casually made a comment that her food was awful as one passed by, and they promptly had a manager come speak to us about our experience. Luckily they have a money-back guarantee on the quality of their food. Needless to say, we did not have to pay the nearly $11 for her food. All in all, the food was awful. This place is more about the experience of being in the "old Real World House" than it is about the food. With so many other Mexican places with WAY better food at WAY better prices, I will never have a need or a desire to return here... unless it is a weekend evening to have a drink, then they may get a second chance, but it defintely won't be for the food! more

This place is for Drunk party goers, that don't know or care about good Food! 4/13/2008

I am normally the BIG MEXICAN that eveyone ask where to go eat. I made the call RIO GRANDE and I should had ran for the BORDER. Let me start with the positive: the drinks...strong and pretty good. Ok now for the problems. Food: Very expensive for what you get. We ordered the Mixed fajitas, one plate wtih shrimp and beef the other with chicken and beef. Not only was there a lovely burnt flavor but the tenederness of cardboard. The rice and beans were fine just like at most places simple and not much to them. The portion was small for the price. $17+ for get 3 shrimp and enough meat to fill a TACO BELL taco. I can't make this stuff up!...The server spent more time hanging out with the other tables about 4 other large table through out had hot girls going to party that night so maybe the looser thought he had a chance? The queso was as good as the Cinemarks nachos and the Salsa was a snooze fest also. I know i was not looking for REAL mexican food cause i would have gone to like POLVOS or El RINCONCITO LA MICHOACANA, but this stuff was down right bad even for you white Folks that love TEX MEX. When we complained we did not get the food compt even though we left half of it and i never leave food. What we did get is $10 each to come back and eat more rubber dog food at RIO GRANDE! yeah no thanks...anyone want $10 gift card for $5? Pros: Drinks were very Strong and Good Cons: Food was burnet, very expensive, small portions, very bland and just bad! more

Good TexMex, good prices 12/10/2007

This place is all right, easy to walk to from a couple hotels near the Convention Center, able to seat small or large groups, and provides good-tasting TexMex food at reasonable prices. The bar has televisions to catch the latest on ESPN, the main dining area is spacious. The chips were fresh and crisp; the salsa had a good kick. I like how they offer mini margaritas for those who just wanted a little nip with the food. I ordered an entree salad and substituted in marinated steak which had a great flavor on its own. It was Sunday evening, while there was a large private party in the private room, there weren't too many other patrons, so service was prompt and efficient. A decent place for the business traveler. Pros: Location, food, prices more

A welcome contribution to downtown 10/19/2007

Seeing such strongly worded for-and-against arguments for this restaurant has led me to sign up and post the first of my own. I am a long-time downtown resident who loves to cook and eat out and besides experiencing pretty much every downtown restaurant, I have visited Rio several times since they opened over a year ago. They had good food but some of the other elements were shaky when they began but have happily improved steadily. If you visited a year ago and didn't care for the soundtrack or thought their wait-staff was a bunch of newbies, I'd suggest giving them another shot because they really do have excellent margaritas and a refreshingly relaxed vibe for a downtown restaurant. A couple of other notes is that they're active in the neigborhood and that counts for a lot in my book. People knock the place because Rio got their start in Colorado and then they walk down the street to P.F. Chang's or something. To me, being local is a mindset more than an address (though my understanding is the the owners are originally from Austin). Second, is that the place is big which can mean with a normal crowd it can still feel empty and with a capacity crowd on Friday or Saturday it can get loud. Someone mentioned or else implied that it's popular with women - I don't know if it is or isn't (I'm a guy) but it's popular with birthday parties and bachelorette parties because it can accomodate people...and yes I guess they're mostly girls. Third is that they have a good private room in the back if you need it for meetings, etc... and don't want to go to someplace so formal as Louie's 106's downstairs or something similar. I'm in several organizations and have used them at different times and it has always went over well with attendees. So in conclusion...I give it four stars because this is Austin and competition is stiff. Bright points are the Margaritas and Sunday brunch. If you haven't been in a while - you should check it out again. more

Awful Place! 8/11/2007

Previous reviews were either 5 stars or 1 star. Seems the 5 stars were a fake review by employees, or some one else with a vested interest. We found the place to be nicely decorated, in fact we though it pretty cool. We sat in the bar, while waiting for the rest of our party to arrive. We found the bar to be very nice, however quite empty. I ordered a Vodka soda. The bartender snapped that they didint serve vodka, all they had was tequila and beer, which did I want? Well franky, I didnt want either. I am not much of a tequila drinker, and I didnt feel like a beer. My group (including myself) are big drinkers, and we are not kids. We apriciate good liquer and fine wines. I wasnt looking for fine wine in this place, but I did expect a full bar. Let me say that we did try the margaritas, and they were less than average. I moved on to a Mexican martini, that was just plain bad! They served it in the normal shaker that you normally get with a mexican martini, it was all ice. There was about 1.25 glasses of mixed drink in it. The waiter told me that it was mesured, and that is all that is what I was supposed to get. Here is my comment on the bar: The owner/manegement left a lot of money on the table, by not serving us what we wanted. Our bar tab was probebly 1/4 of what it could have been, if they had allowed us what we prefered to drink. If they were going to encourage people to drink margeritas or other tequila drinks, they should make them exceptional, not batch mixed, as they were. I think its poor business, to jump through the hoops to get a full bar permit, then not use it. Now for the food: The chips were served in a (dinner) salad bowl, so they ended up all over the table. The queso reminded me of the stuff from Sam's Club in the big one gallon cans that says Nacho cheese sauce (only thinner) My origanal review ran over by 1200 charicters. This is the condensed version. Bad food, Bad overpriced drinks, bad service, all a great looking place! more

Unimpressive and slightly sweet mexican food from Colorad... 7/4/2007

LaurenCarter Provided by Partner
Unimpressive and slightly sweet mexican food from Colorado. Incredibly potent margaritas. Ecclectic furnishings built by the owner. more

Best happy hour 7/1/2007

This place is great!! I went with a group of 10 girls after work, and the happy hour was fabulous! The food is delish and the margaritas are yummy. The service was great too, everyone was attentive making sure we had drinks and water and chips and salsa. They were friendly and I will definitely go back! Oh, I have also been here for dinner and the Enchildas del Mar were delicious. I need to go back for that, but I highly reccomend this place for Happy hours. Pros: food, drinks, service Cons: can be pricey more

Still Great For Vegetarians 6/2/2007

"fake review by employees" ..??? I am not an employee and I don't have a clue who owns The Rio Grande. What I am is a vegetarian who enjoys seeing a large and clearly outlined vegetarian selection on a menu. I wish they had vodka too, but I'm fine drinking a margarita because it's MEXICAN FOOD! If you didn't like the bar selection, why didn't you just leave? I wouldn't stick around somewhere just to complain later. Regardless, I think you either love Rio or hate it. If you hate it, fine with me. Stay away. I won't have to wait to be seated. Pros: Large Menu Selection, Vegetarian Cons: Still No Full Bar more

Good Happy Hour 4/16/2007

The restaurant decor feels slapped together from different worlds (including MTV's Real World). The food is so-so, but the drinks are good and the bar area is bright and fun, and a good place to meet friends for happy hour. Pros: Downtown Cons: Downtown more
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