Way back in the 1980’s, before there was Taco-anything in Atlanta, the place to go for Tex-Mex was Rio Bravo Cantina. There were Rio Bravos throughout the city, and we spent a lot of time at the Powers Ferry location. Ray Schoenbaum, the chain’s owner, sold out to Applebees, who proceeded to run it all into the ground. Now it’s back, and Schoenbaum is running the show. As we shall see, what’s old is new again.
Tonight, we are at the former location of the Tasty China, which was at the former location of a place called Olives. I don’t think we ate at either one, but here we are in its latest configuration, right down the street from the old Rio Bravo location, which has become a victim of the wrecking ball. The original manager is back, and they even brought one of the original chefs out of retirement to consult on the menu.
It looks like it’s already a big after-work hangout for all of the office buildings in the area. Get them in with cheap booze and they will stay for dinner. Tonight features $5 margaritas and pitchers of Dos Equis for only $10.
We don’t drink a lot of Mexican beer, but this stuff goes good with tonight’s cuisine. So does guacamole. And tortilla chips.
Speaking of tortillas, they make their soft tortillas in the same make of machine that they had in the original locations. Remember this contraption?
Put the balls of flour in…
And voila, out come tortillas.
It’s all the same as the old days, except the newer version has teflon discs that prevent sticking. After watching the machine in action, you know we are going to order something with those tortillas.
I want a burrito, but find out that the burrito shells are not made here. Let’s try the soft tacos.
There’s not really a taco combo on the menu, but they let you mix them up any way you like. From bottom to top, there’s the fish taco, the brisket, and the chicken. They all have a kick and come on those wonderful fresh tortillas, which make the dish. You also get beans and rice. Combined with the beer, guac and chips, this reporter is happily stuffed by the end of this meal.
Eve wants tortillas too.
She should probably order something to put into them. There are a lot of fajitas on the menu. She picks the skirt steak.
You can see the steam coming off the plate, but can you hear the sizzle? The skirt steak is cooked to a nice medium pink. Add the onions, some pico, sour cream, and more guac, and you get a wonderful filling for those tortillas. Eve is full too, and some of this comes home for a future lunch.
We are too full for dessert, but would have loved to try the Mexican Coca-Cola cake. There just isn’t room for it, but it will give us something to shoot for next time. As we finish up our beer, a mariachi band starts playing.
No, not these guys. Take a look at this bass guitar.
Size does matter! Ole!
The bottom like on Rio Bravo Cantina: Rio fresh, Rio fun, Rio Bravo! Anyone remember that jingle? This place is a blast from your past. We think Ray (as in Ray’s on the River, Ray’s Killer Creek and Ray’s in the City) has another hit on his hands. The location is close to a lot of people and they were crowded during our visit. Sure, this isn’t authentic Mexican food, but who cares? It really is a fun place. Just make sure you order something that uses those tortillas.
Disclosure time: Our meal at Rio Bravo was complimentary, but our words are priceless. Thanks to Emily Connolly at Melissa Libby and Associates for the invitation.