Casa Rio (San Antonio, TX)
On our drive into San Antonio, Edie solicited a few restaurant recommendations from one of our friends who had recently visited the city. (Sometimes we’re lucky enough to stumble upon great hole-in-the-wall spots, but it never hurts to get a reference when you can!) Although she couldn’t remember the name, our friend Julie (thank you!) gave us a great description – “oldest Mexican place on the River Walk, with brightly colored umbrellas outside.” Turns out, that spot was Casa Rio.
Casa Rio was first established back in 1946 and was “the first San Antonio business to open its doors to the River.” Its great location off Commerce Street along the River Walk makes it a prime lunch and dinner spot. Unlike many of the restaurants in the area, the prices aren’t designed to gouge the many tourists coming through the city. Casa Rio serves a great variety of Mexican food in ample portion sizes and at reasonable prices.
Casa Rio Deluxe Dinner
Described by the menu as the restaurant’s best seller, this large meal comes with a cheese enchilada, a tamale, a crispy beef taco, chili con carne, guacamole salad, chili con queso, Mexican rice, and refried beans. A good variety of food and PLENTY to share!
The chili con carne was our vote for standout in this meal. Big chunks of tender, moist beef covered in a smokey tomato sauce. Absolutely incredible.
The cheese enchilada was great too – lots of sharp cheese stuffed into a red tortilla and covered with a thick red sauce and even more cheese. The taco and tamale were also good, though not as exceptional as the enchilada and chili con carne.
Edie likes to describe Sangria as nectar of the gods. The sweet concoction made of wine and garnished with fruit is often found on menus at Mexican restaurants, and Casa Rio was no exception. Except here, a glass was only $3.85.
Their Sangria was thankfully not too syrupy sweet, and was garnished with wedges of orange, lemon & lime plus a cherry. It was the perfect drink to sip while people-watching along the River Walk.
While trying to decide what meal to split, we ordered an appetizer of guacamole. Had we known that our eventual entree selection would also come with guac, we probably could have skipped the appetizer. But really, can you ever have too much of this green goodness?
Casa Rio serves its guacamole with a small amount of what we think is chili oil drizzled on top. The extra heat was an awesome addition to the flavorful dip.
Chili Con Queso
Who doesn’t love some thick, spicy, melted cheese? Lactose-intolerant folks aside, queso is usually a favorite at Mexican restaurants, and the small amount that came with the Casa Rio Deluxe Dinner was certainly well received by us. It had a nice amount of kick and flavor. The only thing that could have made it better? A larger quantity!
Mexican Rice and Refried Beans
There was nothing particularly exceptional about the rice and beans, but they were good. The rice was moist, and the beans had great flavor.
Chips & Salsa
During the almost two hour period we spent sitting at an outdoor table at Casa Rio, watching the boats and people travel along the River Walk, we went through 3 bowls of chips and 3 bowls of salsa. To say we enjoyed this accompaniment to our meal is a major understatement!
The salsa was thick and flavorful. It was spicy without being too overpoweringly hot. And the chips were fresh and hot. Your hands weren’t greasy and salty after eating them either.
Our server was Sergio, a very soft-spoken older gentleman, but he clearly knew what he was doing. We never needed to ask for anything. Chips or salsa low? They were refilled before we ate the last chip or were scraping the bottom of the salsa bowl. He was also great at suggesting additional glasses of Sangria without being pushy. An excellent server across the board!
For a total bill of $36, including tax & tip, we had a meal that kept us full (very, very FULL!) until a BBQ lunch the next day. 3 baskets of chips helped with that, but the portion sizes were big anyway, and the food is very inexpensive. Had we skipped the Sangria, our bill would have been under $20. Considering this restaurant is on the River Walk (i.e. a very touristy area!), the value is even more incredible!
The Doggy Bag, By Knox
Finally, a restaurant where I can be part of the experience instead of getting left in the truck! Although being made to sit underneath the table wasn’t exactly a shining moment in my life, I at least got to have bites of fresh, warm food instead of gobbling leftovers from a Styrofoam container. But enough about my plight and on to the food…
Yum! Melted cheese on corn chips, chunks of spicy beef, and good sized bites of tamale. I was in heaven. No complaints here…well, almost. The damn ducks that swooped in to fight me for the tortilla chips were a bit annoying. I think the folks at Casa Rio need to turn those pesky birds into enchilada filling!