Listen to Austin 360 Radio

One Dish Wonders: Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant

Enchiladas de Espinaca ($11.50), the Rio Marg ($6.50)

Amira Jensen
The Rio Marg is a strong but delicious margarita that complements the Enchiladas de Espinaca, which envelope veggies in blue corn tortillas and creamy tomatillo sauce.

Enchiladas de Espinaca ($11.50), the Rio Marg ($6.50)

By the time you find parking around the buzzing San Jacinto Boulevard district to get to Rio Grande Mexican Restaurant, chances are your hunger will have grown exponentially. You'll be thankful for the chips and salsa immediately brought to your table, and you won't mind that the guitar player covering U2 makes it challenging to hear the person beside you, because after all, your mouth is too full to respond. Rio Grande's decor is lively and full of character, with little pineapple-shaped lamps hanging from the exposed-pipe ceiling to illuminate the bar and cozy booths. The walls are decorated with beautiful Mexican tiles in shades of brown, orange and blue, and above is a large tree branch wrapped with white Christmas lights.

Despite the ornate restaurant, the menu itself is simple. It relies on the quality of the Tex-Mex trifecta: fajitas, enchiladas and tacos. The Enchiladas de Espinaca exemplifies how tasty simplicity can be. The blue corn tortillas are stuffed with spinach, red onion and yellow squash and covered in a creamy tomatillo sauce that adds a tang to each bite. Like most enchiladas, these are cheesy and rich, but the sides of rice and black beans help balance the meal out. The proportion is a little awkward: too little to take leftovers home, but too big for one meal, especially if you opt to have one the restaurant's margaritas. The Rio Marg, served in a goblet-like glass, is strong. Delicious and strong. After having one, you might think that the limit of three is surprisingly generous.

(301 San Jacinto Blvd. 476-8300, www.rioaustin.com)