Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Vamos a Sol Rio! in Idaho Falls, Idaho

Real Mexican-Style Food
Brightly colored and decorated outside with umbrellas and tables for your waiting comfort, there was no dining al fresco. Once inside the ambience was lost, the usual strip mall fascade included no ceiling but exposed pipes and duct work. This only added to the reverberations of sound that seemed to gain momentum as the evening worn on. That the diners were celebrating Cinco de Mayo may have added to the festivities and noise.

The staff directed us to the bar area to wait, a small bar with three chairs, one table with three chairs, nestled against a service way. After ducking the service crew and several patrons we finally settled down to a two-foot square table for our dining experience. We were informed it was Margarita night, mass made quantities that seemed to be served faster than they could fill up the two-gallon jug. They were excellent not only in taste but price.

The usual chips and salsa were served. The table salsa is a liquid based cilantro salsa, mild enough for your children. We asked for the hot stuff and were served a mixed black bean salsa with a little bite but not much. The menu was not that of your typical Mexican food restaurant. Appetizers included nachos, prawns, and spinach artichoke dip to name a few. The main fare had chimis and burritos many types and flavors, tacos, chili verde, and molcajete, a thick Mexican stew. Chicken items such as chicken mole, arroz con pollo, nine entrees in all. The seafood offered 11 items, from fish tacos, your choice of salmon, battered cod or sautéd cod served up with mango salsa , black beans and rice. Salmon, shrimp or crab stuffed burritos, fresh talapia, several prawn dishes, and to round it off, your usual combo plate deals, tacos, enchilada, tostada, tamale and chili relleno combos to your choosing. A delightful assortment of salads and soups, and pasta dishes like tequila lime pasta even a Cuban pork sandwich.
I ordered the chili verde, my two companions ordered the supreme burrito, and the seafood B burrito stuffed with crab. The chili verde was a little salty to my taste also a little thin. I am used to a thicker chili. The meat was tender and did have a mild taste. The refried beans left you flat. There was absolutely no taste to them, no salt, not even a bean flavor. A Gerber baby would have found them mild to their pallet. The rice was flavored with a hint of spices, no onion, tomatoes just rice. The servings were ample enough for a normal appetite. Now the supreme burrito was at least 10-inches long about 3-inches wide and at least as high. Stuffed with rice and beans and your choice of meat filling, covered with a combo of red and green sauce and melted cheese, topped off with tomatoes, sour cream, onions and guacamole. I must say it was a delightful presentation, savory, aromatic and tantalized your taste buds. Well worth its modest price, and worthy of a large appetite. The seafood burrito was served in an 8-inch size tortilla, and was a flavorful sautéd crab combo served with melted Monterey Jack Cheese and Verde sauce, rice and beans. The burrito was light and did not have a fishy taste; you could savor the succulent crab morsels as they blended nicely with the sauce and cheese.

A medium priced meal at a strip mall location was well worth the trip. If you are looking for an interesting array of unusual items this might be well worth the dining experience. It offers children’s plates at $3.95 and the most expensive item on the menu is $12.95. If on the other hand you are looking for that snappy, spicy zing of jalapenos, hot red peppers and the zesty taste of garlic and onions this is not the place for you. Sol Rio offers mild flavored Mexican food the entire family can enjoy.

Would I go back? One cannot fully judge an eatery on just a single visit; Sol Rio offers me yet another dining experience.

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