Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant has the distinction of being one of few tex-mex offerings within walking distance of downtown Athens. Run by a small group of Hispanic people, Rio Grande serves typical dishes as well as a variety of margaritas and other drinks.
Small as it is, Rio Grande offers great service. They’ll refill your drink or complimentary chips before you even know you’re running low. Service is also fast, whether it be during lunch or later in the night, even during peak hours I’ve had some of the fastest service at Rio Grande.
It has to be said, though, that the restaurant suffers a serious flaw in the form of a weak menu. The typical offerings of enchiladas, quesadillas and other such plates are cheap and offer a variety of choices for how they are prepared, but there aren’t any more adventurous dishes coming from the kitchen. Stereotypical tex-mex dishes are all the store has to offer. Even the “specials” are usually just another burrito or enchilada plate.
Don’t get me wrong – the food isn’t bad. Selection good and most of the things offered are very reasonably priced. The margaritas are even good. But in all the dishes I have ordered from Rio Grande suffer from a similar blandness that could be improved with more spices or menu offerings. Anything to give Rio Grande its own flavor as opposed to very generic tastes. Unique tastes and menu options like these are what separate a good restaurant from your average Taco Bell.