Cafe Rio is a popular chain of fast-casual Mexican restaurants located in the western United States. It is known for its fresh ingredients and delicious burritos, tacos, and salads. The menu also features a variety of well-known items like quesadillas, enchiladas, and nachos.
In spite of the fact that there is no traditional Cafe Rio secret menu, there are many hacks and customizations you can make to your meal to make it even more delicious. Below are some of our favorite Cafe Rio hacks you can use.
Cafe Rio was started in St. George, Utah, in 1997 by Steve and Tricia Stanley. They aimed to serve dishes inspired by recipes from Northern Mexico’s Rio Grande region, mixing in some hints of Southern Texas and New Mexico cuisine to create a distinctive, delicious taste. Providing customers with “fresh food, made fresh” has always been core to their mission, and to this day they do not use any freezers or microwaves in store. Instead, employees in their 140+ locations across the United States start work early to begin preparing the fresh guacamole and sauces their customers love.
Cafe Rio has recently created a rewards program to recognize their loyal customers. By signing up on the Cafe Rio app, customers can create an account and start earning points every time they eat at the chain. One point is awarded for every dollar spent on food and beverages at the restaurant, and then collectors simply need to scan the barcode on their receipt to add the points to their account. If the order was placed online, it’s even easier: the points will automatically be added to the account of the person placing the order. Customers will get $10 off their order for every 100 points they earn, so fans of Cafe Rio should start collecting points now!
Cafe Rio’s standard nachos are a staple for the restaurant chain, but if you want a bit of variety this hack can really spice things up. Simply ask for a 4oz side of fire roasted habanero sauce to kick up the heat and enjoy a spicy plate of nachos.
Ordering food “Queso Style” at Cafe Rio means getting it with creamy queso both inside and out. You may need a napkin or two, but having double the cheese makes for an extra delicious burrito or enchilada. This menu hack is so good that Cafe Rio has even posted about it themselves, the highest honor a fan-made recipe can get.
Another item that Cafe Rio themselves recommends adding extra queso to is their nachos. The nachos come with shredded cheese, but you can request queso instead, which is extra creamy and delicious!
Cafe Rio’s Tortilla Soup is their signature appetizer, and for great reason! The blend of spices, broth, and crunchy tortilla pieces makes for a great start to a meal. However, with this menu hack you make the soup into a meal in and of itself. Simply ask for some of Cafe Rio’s sweet pork barbacoa to be added into the soup bowl before the rest of the ingredients, and enjoy a hearty, savory cup of soup that is sure to hit the spot.
This menu hack will require some ingredients at home, as Cafe Rio does not currently serve alcohol in their restaurants, but it is still well worth trying. All you have to do is order a Mint Limeade, and save 2 oz of the drink to mix with 2 oz of white rum and 4 oz of sparkling water. Add some ice and you have a refreshing cocktail to go with your meal.
We’ve already shared a couple of hacks that we love, but let’s take a look at some of the amazing menu items from Cafe Rio that don’t require any customization for them to be absolutely amazing.
While you can still customize this dish to your hearts delight, the salad entrée with the sweet pork barbacoa included is a fan-favorite. This salad is fresh and delicious with just the right touch of sweetness from the pork, and makes for an absolutely amazing bite!
Another fan-favorite option is ordering your burrito enchilada style. The sauce itself is already delicious, but adding on shredded cheese and baking it is how Cafe Rio makes an already delicious dish even tastier!
The idea behind Cafe Rio is to prepare your meal as it goes down the line, which allows you to customize the dish as you go. This means that you can have endless customization options, so below are all the ways you can customize your dish.
At Cafe Rio, you can choose from the following entrées: Burrito, salad, tacos, tostada, quesadilla, enchiladas, and nachos.
For all dishes except nachos, you get your choice of tortilla. The standard options available are flour, wheat, and corn. For the tostada, you get the option of a crunchy corn tortilla on the bottom.
Once you have your entrée and tortilla chosen, you can really begin to customize your dish. The proteins available are pollo asado, sweet pork barbacoa, shredded chicken breast, chile roast beef, rice and beans, and for an extra fee, fire-grilled chicken or steak. They also occasionally offer limited-time proteins like beef birria, fire grilled salmon, and pollo asado.
For the next customization option, you can add rice and beans to your meal. The cilantro lime rice that Cafe Rio has perfectly compliments any of their dishes and is a great addition. For the beans, you have a choice of black beans, pinto beans, or half and half of each kind.
Dressing, Salsa, and Guac
Last but not least is the dressing, while there’s only two dressings to choose from, which is the beloved creamy tomatillo dressing, and the cilantro lime vinaigrette, there are also many sauces to choose from that give a delicious twist on your dish. These sauces include the mild roasted tomatillo sauce, the medium hatch green chile sauce, the hot roasted red chile sauce, and finally the hotter roasted habanero sauce.
In addition to the sauces, you can customize your order with guacamole, pico de gallo, salsa fresca, sour cream, cotija or jack cheese, and queso.
In addition to fountain drinks featuring Coca Cola products, bottled water, and iced tea, Cafe Rio offers a variety of specialty drinks. These may vary by location and season. Some of the specialty drinks that Cafe Rio has been known to offer include horchata, mint limeade, mango lemonade, and strawberry lemonade.
You can even satisfy your sweet tooth at Cafe Rio. Offerings may vary by location but some of Cafe Rios desserts have included their famous Tres Leches and Fresh Lime Pie.
Cafe Rio FAQs
Is Cafe Rio open on holidays?
Cafe Rio locations are open on most holidays, but this may vary by location and operating hours may be altered on select holidays. Many Cafe Rio locations are closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and Easter Sunday.
What time does Cafe Rio open?
Most Cafe Rio locations open at 10:30AM.
What time does Cafe Rio close?
Most Cafe Rio locations close at 10PM. Some may stay open until 11PM and some may close as early as 9PM.
Does Cafe Rio serve breakfast?
No, Cafe Rio does not serve breakfast items.
Is there an app for Cafe Rio?
Yes, the Cafe Rio App is available for Apple and Android.
Can you order Cafe Rio online?
You can order pickup through CafeRio.com and their app or order through many popular meal delivery apps such as UberEats and DoorDash.
Does Cafe Rio deliver?
Cafe Rio does not offer delivery, but you can order through third part apps like Postmates and Door Dash for delivery.
Does Cafe Rio have gift cards?
Cafe Rio offers physical and e-gift cards both in store and online. You can check your balance online.
What kind of cheese does Cafe Rio use?
Cafe Rio uses cheddar, jack, or cotija cheese.
Does Cafe Rio have soup?
Yes, Cafe Rio serves Tortilla Soup.
Does Cafe Rio have cauliflower rice?
No, Cafe Rio does not serve cauliflower rice.
Does Cafe Rio serve dessert?
Yes, Cafe Rio has dessert items available.
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Morgan Mulac is a freelance writer who has spent years on the road as a nomad and now has settled back in California with her family. Some of her favorite spots to travel to in California are in Orange County and the many beaches along the coast. She’s an avid writer about her journeys and enjoys sharing the beauty California has to offer.