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Rio's Mexican Food

New Buffalo MI

901 w buffalo st, new buffalo MI 49117
open 11am-??

Rio's Mexican Food

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Rating: 78
Price: $$$

While visiting some friends on the southeastern shore of Lake Michigan, we got a hot tip about some pork tamales at Rio's, one of the two local Mexican options. Rio's is a pleasant-looking place with a sweet ghetto blaster playing mariachi music and a bunch of colorful picnic tables outside for sitting, including some epic kids tables.

Their menu has a great variety of taco options, so you can get your meats on flour, soft corn, or crispy corn tortillas. While the prices are pretty high ($2.39 for a soft corn), Rio's is located in a beach town, so cheap tacos aren't really an option. Also, sales tax in Michigan is low (refreshingly so, after leaving Chicago) so you at least feel like you're beating the system in some ways.

I ended up ordering 3 soft corn tacos: steak, spicy pork, and spicy chicken. While looking at my receipt, I got pretty dang excited after seeing the subtext: 'BEST MEXICAN FOOD IN THE WORLD'. Could Rio's live up to their impressive boasting?

My tacos came out fairly rapidly, considering the number of people waiting in line ahead of me. Unfortunately, Rio's hasn't mastered a convenient 'eating in' system, so all the tacos were in a paper bag, individually wrapped in foil, and I got a bunch of small plastic cups of salsa. The tacos themselves were pretty sizable, garnished with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, and cilantro on a thick double-corn tortilla.

On my first taco (steak), the highlight was definitely the hearty tortillas. They had a nice corn flavor, which wasn't too overpowering, and also had a larger radius than a most taco shops. The meat itself was a bit bland, though, and pretty gritty. Not a nice, succulent consumption experience like my recent trip to Tacos Garcia to the west.

The salsas, however, were pretty good in conjunction with the tortillas. The red had a very sharp spice to it, without much underlying flavor. The green was more of a mild with a slight sweetness to it. With a 50/50 combination, you had a delicious topping for any taco.

The spicy pork and spicy chicken were both tender, well spiced (though clearly not marinated) and well-cooked. Nice and squishy between the teeth. They worked better with the salsa than did the carne asada, and the spicy pork was a highlight.

Also, though circumstantial evidence, I did get a stomachache immediately after eating at Rio's, which did not go away until some biking the following morning. While I typically have a stomach of steel, my diet had not been very balanced in the previous days, so Rio's shouldn't take the whole of the blame.

Reports from my colleagues indicate that the pork tamales were very good (as expected; make sure you get them with sour cream), and the spicy pork burrito is hefty and a top choice. Overall, Rio's is a good option if you're hanging out near New Buffalo and looking for a place to grab a few tacos. The only other Mexican option nearby, El Rancho Grande, is more of a sit-down establishment where you can grab a few margaritas.

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