Rio Nuevo in Alpharetta

3 posts in one week, what the hell is going on? I thought the colder weather was going to slow down my posts.

My wife and I were at Northpoint mall last night doing some walking around and I had a hankering for some tequila. Every store I kept dreaming of that sweet juice. In fact we only ended up going into 3 stores and spent the rest of the time walking and driving our hunger from all the pretzel shops…bastards. Last weekend we were buying some booze at Total Wine and noticed a new Mexican ‘rant across the street that looking intriguing. I thought it would be nice to try for some apps, beers and maybe a glass or two of tequila. Last night we actually decided to do it.

This will be a quick review since we didnt have dinner, only drinks and a few tacos. Once again I apologize for the lack of pics. We sat at the bar and the lighting was very dim and thus messed up my pics.

Right when we sat down I knew this would be a place we’d come back to. They have Modelo on draft! both Negro and Especialle. We ordered a round then proceeded to look over the menu. Lots of modern menu choices like ceviche and fish taco’s but they still had lots of traditional items like sopes. Since we were just looking over the selection of tequila at Total Wine we decided to split a glass of Partida Anejo which comes highly recommended from Lippy over at the Tequilawhipserer.com Since we weren’t starving we decided on chips and salsa, the guacamole and two tacos, the mahi and barbacoa.

The chips and salsa were very good. The salsa was a fresh blended red salsa that was pretty mild. I would have preferred it to have a little more bite but at least it was fresh and the chips were good as well. They weren’t your “tostido” bagged variety and had a light and airy feel to them without that dense processed corn texture that most have. We ordered some tableside Guacamole that never made it to the table. I guess they forgot or missed it on the ticket but it worked out since it was probably too much food anyway.

We each ordered a single taco. Amy got the Mahi and I got the Barbacoa. When they came out “hot plate” doesn’t even begin to describe it. I have never had plates come from a kitchen as hot as these. The bonus was that they kept the food hot…for 15 minutes. They were so hot my wife couldn’t hold the taco as the tortilla was too hot as well.

The Mahi was served on a flour tortilla and filled with coarsely shredded lettuce, diced tomato and a very light mayo based sauce with a hint of spice. The mahi was lightly fried and was a decent size. All the flavors worked really well together. It wasn’t the best fish taco I’ve had but it was definitely far from the worst. The lightness of all the ingredients was refreshing and they didn’t douse it with so much sauce you were choking on it. We decided a 3 out of 5 for this one.

My barbacoa was served on a roasted corn tortilla with nothing but a small side of some watery tomato based sauce with onion and cilantro and a slice of lime. The barbacoa was very flavorful and extremely juicy. Lots of cumin and garlic in this one. I tried it with and without the sauce that came with it, both were equally satisfying. A plus was the tortilla wasn’t greasy like other roasted ones I’ve had around Atlanta and they held back the juices from the barbacoa very well. No ripped and mushy tortilla’s here. I’d give this a 3.5 out of 5 chaka’s.

We finished dinner with a glass of Partida Anejo which is definitely one of the nicer higher end tequila’s I’ve had. Lots of caramel and vanilla in the nose, nice legs and pearls, and just enough wood in the finish that really spoke as a great Anejo. My wife didn’t like it as much as the Herradura we had at Cheeky but they served theirs in a slightly chilled glass so it wasn’t apples to apples or agaves to agaves in this case. I did like it enough to warrant purchasing a bottle in the future. The tequila menu was small but enough to cover all the “big boys” and a couple of the lesser knowns.

The place itself was done up in an upscale but rustic feel with plenty of faux finishes on the walls, sparing use of tequila props that were tastefully done and lots of luxurious touches like granite bar tops. The place definitely looked the part. Now I read around and saw many complaints on the service and food prices. Since we sat at the bar all three of the bartenders constantly were asking how we were doing, etc. I had no problems with the service. Keep in mind this place is new so they need some time to work the kinks out. The food prices were on the high side but considering other places around Alpharetta I didn’t think it was too bad. I think people have this notion that Mexican food needs to be really cheap and thats not what its about. There is a finer side to Mexican cuisine its just too bad most think nacho cheese covered enchilada’s and corona’s are that. We’ll definitely be coming back with a emptier stomach and a thirst for agave. So far I’d give it a 3.5 outta 5 and we’ll see how a traditional meal there is in the coming months.

Expect the posts to continue as I have a crock pot filled with a beef roast and my own Machaca recipe stewing on the counter as we speak.

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