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 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 idea that each and every ingredient must 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, these six little restaurants caught the attention of a fine gentleman named Bob Nilsen. He purchased Cafe Rio from the Stanleys with the idea of spreading the love of making this fresh Mexican food to everyone in and around Utah and beyond.
He made certain to maintain 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 real ones to consider notice. We’ve won over 100 awards, from the Best of City Search and also the Oxnard Salsa Festival for the Inc. 500 and also the Alfred P. Sloan Award. And you also know what else? We’re just how to get started.
Cafe Rio opened in 1997 in six Utah locations. Currently, there are fifty-seven locations in ten states: Arizona, California, Montana, Wyoming. Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, and Utah within the West as well as in Maryland and Virginia on the East Coast. A summary of locations may be found at http://www.caferio.com/locations.
The VRG spoke with Aubrie inside 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 their bread products were made out of L-cysteine as a dough conditioner. The guacamole fails to contain gelatin. A soybean-based shortening is used in the kitchen where vegetarian and vegan menu merchandise is prepared separately from meat products.
Aubrie told us that Cafe Rio’s purchasing director is a vegetarian and so is aware of most of the ingredient concerns of vegetarians and vegans. She has developed lists (previously available online) of menu items that are vegetarian or vegan and is currently updating them. In mid-March 2013, Aubrie said that “the [updated] vegan and vegetarian information needs to be on our website shortly.”
The update was needed because of recent ingredient change. Aubrie informed The VRG that
There was a change made recently using the margarine that is utilized inside our California, Maryland, and Virginia locations. Previously the margarine was dairy-free, but with the change made the newest margarine does contain dairy…If you are looking for vegan or animal-free products within the California, Maryland, and Virginia markets here is a list of items that are safe:
* 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 own other markets do not use dairy-free margarine and that we usually do not anticipate that any changes will likely be made in the near future.”
On its website, Cafe Rio states that most of its 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 considering mkxorn more about Cafe Rio Specials may visit its website: http://www.caferio.com/
The contents of this article, our website, and our other publications, like the Vegetarian Journal, are certainly not designed to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice ought to be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company employees or company statements. Information does change and mistakes are usually possible. Please use your own best judgment about whether an item would work to suit your needs. Further research or confirmation may be warranted.