Downtown historic Plano has gained some character as of late. While dining at Urban Rio, the subject of this week's review, I talked to Nick Rallo a ton about how Plano has changed since he grew up there. While West Plano had a resurgence that centered around Preston and Park and the Shops at Legacy, East Plano remained relatively dormant. Nick was surprised at how much has changed there in recent years.
While Nathan Shea certainly can't take all the credit for the downtown Plano renaissance, his first restaurant, Urban Crust, certainly had something to do with awakening East 15th Street. Now there are numerous bars and restaurants throughout the historic district, and people park their cars and actually walk around a little.
Shea's second restaurant continues to build on a good thing for the hood. Urban Rio puts together a decent menu featuring Tex-Mex plates that are satisfying in that melted Velveeta cheese kind of way, but the dishes are respectably portioned so you don't have to call in a backhoe to get yourself out of your booth when you're finished. They call the style "Next-Mex."
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Add tortillas made from fresh-ground corn (they use a little flour in the mix) and a lively dining room, and I'd say Plano has a winner. If you disagree, check out the prices. You're paying for Chili's but you're getting a whole lot more.