Urban Rio's Next-Mex

Finally, A Tex-Mex meal that doesn't require expandable pants.

The chicken chimichurri torta should be called a "tortette," but the modest size of the sandwich highlights Urban Rio's greatest strength. It's not often you can eat a plate of enchiladas flanked with black beans and rice without feeling like your sides may split. Sure, there's an endless procession of store-bought chips you can dip in a tomato-heavy salsa or runny black beans, but most of the plates at Urban Rio show refreshing restraint.

A double-stacked quesadilla seems Texas-sized (and isn't crisp like the menu promises) and desserts are huge, but other plates are just large enough to satisfy a hungry diner, and they look pretty nice too. When was the last time you had an Tex-Mex plate garnished with micro cilantro? When was the last time a plate like that cost you less than 10 bucks?

While Shea and Olmos nail the value play, the décor sometimes leaves a bit to be desired. A few of the booths along one side of the restaurant are too long and narrow, and the bar at the front looks empty and uninviting for dining, though a massive open kitchen running the length of the dining room provides a nice focal point for diners.

The chile relleno was overwhelmed by cheese.
Lori Bandi
The chile relleno was overwhelmed by cheese.
The jangly upstairs bar.
Lori Bandi
The jangly upstairs bar.

Location Info

Map

Urban Rio Cantina & Grill

1000 14th St., 100
Plano, TX 75074

Category: Restaurant > Mexican

Region: Plano

Details

Urban Rio

1000 E. 14th St. No. 100, 972-422-4466,

urbanrio.com. 11 a.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Sunday. $$

Tacos $6.75 to $8.75

Empanadas $6.25, $ 7.75

Chicken torta $7.75

Corn and crab enchiladas $9.50

Beef chile relleno $10.25

Meanwhile, the upstairs bar feels jangly. A color-shifting, brightly lit glass bar is out of synch with the antique ice box and rusting ice hooks on display. Outdoor tables seem like they were chosen at the last second (the layout is strange) and the bar stools feel light enough to blow away, and many are shaky.

Not that anyone seems to mind. There's live music playing loudly and a fall breeze cools the outdoor space and diners can wrap up a meal and drinks with something sweet from the gelato bar downstairs. Shea didn't have a great answer for why gelato belongs in a Next-Mex restaurant other than it's fun. He has a point — while Urban Rio may not offer enough to bring customers from afar, locals may find something to celebrate. Compared with what was available in downtown Plano a decade ago, this place is a hoot.

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