You really didn't think that I would be able to write about food near BYU without talking about Cafe Rio, now did you??
Where: Cafe Rio, 2250 N University Ave #16, Provo
Who Went: Everyone in the whole world, practically
Number of Visits: Too many to count...
What We Ordered: Usually we get the Pork Salad and Pork Burrito Smothered with Hot Enchilada Sauce. Other things we've tried: Pork Quesadilla, Chicken Quesadilla, Chicken Burrito, Chicken Enchiladas, Steak Tacos, Mexican Fideo Special, Horchata, and Key Lime Pie
What It Cost: $16.86
What We Thought:
You know, there are a lot of Cafe Rio haters out there, people who mock it for its lack of authenticity, the craziness of their service, and so many other things. But I'm going to come clean. I am a Cafe Rio lover. It's true. I have to admit it. There are days when I crave that sweet sweet heavenly pork so badly that I can't eat anything else (like last Thursday). I have tried SO many copycat recipes for the pork, the salad, the chicken, the dressing, and none of them ever come close! I think that I need to somehow get a job working at Cafe Rio, learn all of their secrets, and then my life will be complete.
The pork salad. This bad boy is award-winning for a very good reason. I can't decide what my favorite part of it is. The fresh, crisp and plentiful lettuce? The crunchy salty tortilla strips? The cilantro lime rice or pinto beans? The tomatillo dressing that ties it all together? It's so hard to decide since it all works so perfectly together. But I think the pork and the tortilla are really what sets Cafe Rio apart. Now, if you do not like sweet meat, then you will probably be disdainful, and not really get what's the big deal about this place (like my mother). But if you do like sweet meat, you will probably crave this at least once a week if you try it. It is so saucy, so perfectly flavored, it's unlike anything I've had anywhere else. Oh my gosh. Just writing about it is making me want some....right now...I also can't get over their huge, fresh, amazing tortillas. I can eat these plain all day long. They are SO much better than anything you can buy in the store, and the great news is that you can just buy them at Cafe Rio. This is a wonderful thing.
Owen swears by the burritos, but I'm pretty sure that the salads fill you up more, and he just doesn't want to feel girly and get a salad. Dear men of the BYU area, these salads are not girly. I will not judge you if you wish to partake of their goodness. But if you get the burrito like my husband always does, then you won't be disappointed, that we can guarantee. They have three different options for enchilada sauce to smother your burrito, but you have to be aware of a couple of things: 1) They charge extra for enchilada style. I always remind Owen of this, but he thinks it's totally worth it, 2) The hot flavor is not that spicy, so you don't have to be scared.
We've tried a lot of other things on the menu, and they are all delicious (those these are our definite stand-bys). I love the quesadillas for days when I'm not as hungry -- you really get to enjoy the wonderful tortillas, meat, and cheese. Mmmm. The tacos and enchiladas aren't very outstanding, just stick with the burritos, salads, and quesadillas here. I do have to admit, the fideo (Mexican pasta) special was pretty awful, so stay away from that!
Lots of people have complained about the "assembly-line" way they prepare your food and get you through the line, but honestly, I think its genius. They usually are so busy that by the time you get to the front of the line, you want your food as fast as possible! And they make it happen. It's kind of a whirlwind, but I think its kind of fun, and there's no waiting around. Just how I like it.
What You Should Do: Go right now. Yes, you will be a stereotypical BYU student, but hey, it's worth it. They get pretty busy, so you're going to have to go during an off-hour (or visit one of their other locations -- the Orem one usually isn't as busy, and there is one in American Fork as well), but if you want fresh Mexican (it is NOT authentic, but it is still delicious), there are no other choices. Make sure to get a meal stamp card so you can get a free meal after purchasing 10 -- trust me, you'll go through it a lot faster than you think you would. Also, you should join me in petitioning BYU to replace Costa Vida with Cafe Rio at BYU football games. Cafe Rio is SO much better!!!!!!
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