Monday, March 16, 2009

Is it authentic?

This question came up while dining out with friends last Friday. I guess that depends on where you come from...I'm not sure exactly where this place comes from, but I must admit I kind of liked this new restaurant. The other night we drove out to Belgrade to give the Rio Sabinas South Western Grill a try. Always willing to give any new Tex-Mex, Mexican, South Western place a go, I was psyched and ready to dig in. The beans (two posts in a row going on about beans, mind you) were very good and in my opinion were the standout among the chow: fresh cooked pintos with a serious whack of bacon to round out the flavor.

Thankfully, the chaps that run Rio Sabinas have done this once or twice with the successful Rib & Chop House restaurants in Montana and Wyoming. That said, we're clearly a long way from the border, as the chips and salsa took a long time to hit the table; but the wait proved worth it. We were presented with two kinds of salsa, a bright red tomato based salsa that was spicy and good, the second a slightly creamy avocado-based variety with a mellow kick and plenty of cilantro. The chips themselves were thin, salty and warm. Yum.

The menu is huge and varies wildly from burgers (with some creative south-western-y toppings) to lots of Tex-Mex-y items, and a few creole dishes thrown in for good measure. Okay, I guess the logo is starting to make sense now...

I had the brisket Tacos, which were good, but the brisket had been braised. Look, don't get me wrong, the meat was tender and well seasoned, but if you braise a brisket in Texas you might not want to call it Brisket...try: pot roast.

Also around the table a bowl of chile con queso is lapped up with the now flowing baskets of chips. One of the oddball dishes, but quite good in a I-need-2500-calories-right-now kind of way, was a chicken dish (bad blogger, I forgot the name) that served fried cutlets topped with a ranchero sauce and served on a bed a sauteed onions - with beans and rice - and shooter of queso for good measure. Not only did this produce leftovers - but it did so - twice. Three meals, one dish. This is great recession dining.

While I am not going to declare my search for Tex-Mex in Montana over, Rio Sabinas does present a curious and tasty new option when seeking out the requisite chips/salsa/enchilada experience; especially if you have other diners in tow who aren't on the Tex-Mex bus.

Rio Sabinas on Urbanspoon

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