The year was 1997. The place, a little town in southern Utah called St. George. A beautiful couple named Steve and Patricia Stanley started a cafe or restaurant called Cafe Rio Mexican Grill. Cafe Rio served authentic dishes derived from inspired recipes and traditional cooking of Northern Mexico’s Rio Grande region, Southern Texas, and New Mexico. Central to every bite was the belief that each ingredient should be fresh and made fresh to order. And you know what? People loved it. They couldn’t get enough of it. So much so, that one restaurant became six. In 2004, all six of these little restaurants caught the eye of a fine gentleman named Bob Nilsen. He purchased Cafe Rio Menu 2020 from the Stanleys with the concept of spreading the passion for making this fresh Mexican food to everyone in and around Utah and beyond.
He ensured to keep the mantra of “fresh food, made fresh” on the very core from the brand. No freezers. No microwaves. Nothing premade. Our staff begins each day, bright and early, hand-squeezing limes, hand-scooping avocados, simmering sauces and preparing desserts. The crowds that line up at our over 125 Cafe Rio locations today, aren’t the only ones to consider notice. We’ve won over 100 awards, from the very best of City Search and the Oxnard Salsa Festival to the Inc. 500 and also the Alfred P. Sloan Award. And you know what else? We’re just getting started.
Cafe Rio opened in 1997 in six Utah locations. Currently, you can find fifty-seven locations in ten states: Arizona, California, Montana, Wyoming. Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, and Utah in the West and then in Maryland and Virginia on the East Coast. A list of locations may be found at http://www.caferio.com/locations.
The VRG spoke with Aubrie within the Support Center at Cafe Rio. She told us that neither the black beans, the pinto beans nor the rice contain any animal flavors or broths. None of the bread products were made with L-cysteine being a dough conditioner. The guacamole will not contain gelatin. A soybean-based shortening can be used in your kitchen where vegetarian and vegan menu items are prepared separately from meat products.
Aubrie told us that Cafe Rio’s purchasing director is a vegetarian and so understands many of the ingredient concerns of vegetarians and vegans. She has created lists (previously available on the web) of menu items that are vegetarian or vegan and it is currently updating them. In mid-March 2013, Aubrie stated that “the [updated] vegan and vegetarian information needs to be seen on our website shortly.”
The update was needed because of a recent ingredient change. Aubrie informed The VRG that
There is a change made recently with the margarine that is used within our California, Maryland, and Virginia locations. Previously the margarine was dairy-free, but with the change made the brand new margarine does contain dairy…If you are searching for vegan or animal-free products within the California, Maryland, and Virginia markets here is a listing of things that are secure:
* black beans
* pinto beans
* flour tortillas
* corn tortillas
* corn chips
* corn strips for salads
* tostada shells
* Pico de Gallo sauce
* Salsa Fresca
* romaine lettuce
To explain the margarine change, we asked Aubrie if Cafe Rio restaurants in other states use margarine containing dairy. She replied by stating that “all of our other markets do not use dairy-free margarine and we do not anticipate that any changes will be made soon.”
On its website, Cafe Rio states that all of the food is “fresh and made daily. There aren’t any microwaves or freezers in almost any in our locations. Nothing is premade. We don’t have mechanized processed food.” Readers interested in mkxorn more about Cafe Rio Mexican Grill may visit its website: http://www.caferio.com/
The contents of this short article, our website, and our other publications, including The Vegetarian Journal, are certainly not meant to provide personal health advice. Medical advice needs to be obtained from a qualified health professional. We quite often rely on product and ingredient information from company employees or company statements. Information does change and mistakes will always be possible. Please make use of your own best judgment about whether a product is acceptable for you. Further research or confirmation may be warranted.