The Menus of Madison County: Rio Grande Tex-Mex Grill



Jen Lauro

This week’s culinary exploration brought us to Rio Grande Tex-Mex Grill (3913 Oneida Street, Washington Mills, NY), a restaurant proclaiming homemade Texas-style Mexican food. After a technical glitch with the GPS (the numbers on Oneida Street change direction once you leave New Hartford) tacked on an extra fifteen minutes to the drive, we rolled up to a restaurant that closely resembled a gas station. While my roommates were initially horrified by the sight of this facade, I optimistically took this as an authentic indication of the “Tex” in Tex-Mex.

Despite the drab exterior, the inside of Rio Grande is resplendent with red and yellow walls, colorful flags, murals of various cowboy scenes and even a Selena poster. There is no table service at Rio Grande, so we each ordered separately at the counter and took our number to a table.

And what did we order? you might ask. The menu at Rio Grande is extensive, with every kind of Mexican and Tex-Mex specialty you could imagine. However, our hunger overtook us after the forty-five minute drive and we all settled on the One Pound Burrito. Any food that is described by weight on a restaurant’s menu is immediately appealing, and we could not resist the promise of a mammoth burrito.

We had hardly settled ourselves in after ravaging the help-yourself chips and salsa bar (excellent crispy tortilla chips, fresh tomato salsa and a still unknown deliciously spicy red dip), when our burritos began arriving at our table, one by one. These huge flour tortillas came stuffed with rice, refried beans and sour cream (two of us chose grilled chicken and one chose shredded chicken, but chorizo, carnitas and pulled pork include some of the more exotic filling options), smothered in melted cheese and a tomato sauce. This was strictly a fork and knife affair, and we had our work cut out for us.

Stopping for air only to add more guacamole or hot sauce to our burritos, we plowed through our giant-size meals. This place is not for the faint of heart, and from what I could see around me it seemed like all of the plates being brought out did not skimp on the size either (I found out later that you could make your burrito “monster” super-size for an extra $3.75).

None of us had any real complaints about our meal – one of my dining companions found the cheese and tomato sauce a little overwhelming, while my other friend found it complimentary. Our chicken was tender. The salsas were flavorful and fresh, and the burrito (as you might well imagine) was well-endowed with all of the appropriate fillings. In the end, though, if you’ve had a good but not great burrito, you know what this one tastes like (for those of you from Boston, it does not even come close to the glory of Ana’s Taqueria).

Painfully full, we waddled back to the car and quietly digested during the thirty minute drive back to Colgate. All in all, we drove a total of one hour and fifteen minutes only to spend a grand total of thirty-five minutes eating at Rio Grande. While this expediency would be welcomed in Hamilton, Rio Grande is too far away and too fast to make the drive really worthwhile. On the other hand, the speedy service and generous portions would be heartily welcomed after an exhausting afternoon spent at Target, in nearby New Hartford.