Bajio, Costa Vida, Cafe Rio

Today I was really craving Costa Vida. It's close to work. And my lunch-default friend, TOWR, inconsiderately made other plans for lunch today. So I had to go alone. I thought I'd beat the lunch rush, but instead managed to get there right at the busiest time. Luckily, I had my bookclub book with me. I hate my bookclub book this month, but I'm reading it anyway, so that I can give an informed opinion when we meet this month. It's just awkward that I was reading the first racy scene I've encountered in the novel when my boss's boss's boss's boss said hello to me and took a moment to chat. I'm really glad that he didn't ask me what I was reading, because I would have had to tell him it was absolute crap. Want proof?

She looked at him intently, perhaps trying to decide how rude his comment had been. There was steel in her blue eyes, steel so cold that it chilled you.

Need I say more? The book is a steaming pile of crap, crap so steaming that it gets into your nostrils and smells like steaming crap.

Anyway. That's all SO off topic. What I wanted to discuss were three restaurants: Bajio, Costa Vida, and Cafe Rio.

Of these three restaurants, Bajio is my favorite. Some people don't understand that you don't order your normal fare at Bajio. If you want a burrito, go to one of the other two. Here are my top three recommendations for Bajio. There's basically no other reason to go.
1) The shrimp tacos. With sweet rice. The shrimp is cooked in honey butter and topped with mango salsa. As you eat them, let the sweet juices drip into the rice. Then eat the rice. It's divine.
2) The green chili chicken quesadilla. Sooooo good.
3) If you're watching what you eat, try the green chili chicken salad. However, unlike salads from most of these places, it doesn't come with rice or beans, so it can be much less filling than the other burrito bar salads.

Costa Vida:
This is my second-favorite restaurant of the three, but it's probably pretty closely tied with Cafe Rio. I think that both restaurants are pretty similar, actually. My recommendations:
1) The sweet pork enchiladas with mango. That is what I am eating RIGHT NOW. It's basically like a meat dessert.
2) The chicken salad with the cilantro vinaigrette. Pretty typical, but pretty good.

Since I imagine most of you are most familiar with Cafe Rio, I won't really put my favorites or anything. I just kindof get what I'm feeling in the mood for there, but I am never really wowed, and I never really crave it.

I'd love to hear about your favorites, though.


brinestone said...

Cafe Rio is by far my favorite of the three. I don't like cilantro much, I do like spiciness, and I never order salads or anything with fish. Also, I tend not to like sweet Mexican foods. I LOVE Cafe Rio's enchilada sauces and black beans.

Jon Boy said...

I also don't like Costa Vida because of the cilantro. Apparently some people think it tastes kind of like soap, and I'm one of them.

I've only had Bajio once, and it was awful. Big hunks of tough, flavorless meat, and instead of regular sour cream they appeared to have given me dill-flavored dip instead. Gross.

I guess I'm not a fan of sweet Mexican food so much either. I didn't like Cafe Rio's pork barbacoa, and those shrimp tacos with sweet rice don't appeal to me in the least.

Janssen said...

Forget the food (I can't believe I just said that); what horrific book is this?

jeri said...

Cafe Rio is my favorite because I like the sweetness of the pork and the spiciness of the dressing. Also their tortillas are the best. That is what I had for lunch today.

Costa Vida is just "meh" for me

I like the green chili chicken salad at Bajio and really nothing else.

And Club Dumas? Dude.... wow. When your main hero is an Ultra-Nerd, looks like a rabbit, and suffers from sexual dysfunction... you have issues. And that doesn't even cover the plot problems.

Hannah said...

I think I am the only one in Utah who is sick of Cafe Rio and anything like it. Bajios is the only one worth going to for me.

Sarah said...

I haven't gotten too far in the bookclub book. Looks like at least it will be a good discussion.
Your recommendations are similar to me:
1 - if you want a salad - go to cafe rio
my favorites are your bajio top two. I heard the costa vida soup is the best. I haven't had to much at costa vida though.

Kiersten said...

I SO agree with you about the book. I don't know how far you are but by the end I was certain that if Corso mentioned the girl's pale green eyes or the way she smelled like "youth and fever," (what does that mean exactly?) I was going to have to destroy it.

...and I like whichever of those three restaurants has the shortest line.

TOWR said...

I'm sorry. I have failed you. :( If it makes you feel better, I made the plans last week!

"...steel so cold that it chilled you." Hahahahahahahahahahahhhahahaha! What rubbish!

My order:
1) Cafe Rio (der) - I only ever get their salad sans rice, with pinto beans, creamy tamatillo dressing. Heaven in an aluminum bowl.
2) Costa Vida - their pork quesadilla should come with a cigarette
3) Bajio. The only thing I've ever liked there is the queso. Deeelish! The rest? Meh.

I'll see you Monday!!!

PS Cilantro tastes just like soapy tin foil. I'm not a fan of the devil weed. And I concur that Cafe Rio has THE best tortillas this side of the Mexican border.

AzĂșcar said...

Bajio? I'm pretty over them. There's something I don't like about that place and I can't quite put my finger on it.

I've only eaten at Costa Vida a few times, it was fine. I do love cilantro.

I've only recently started going to Cafe Rio again, I was so.over.them. for the longest time. I do love their salads.

I have to say, I'm more of a traditional Mexican food person. I like El Azteca, Las Tarascas, and just about every hole in the wall out there. I can't wait to try El Gallo Giro. I found La Taqueria behind Macey's in Orem to be just marvy. Traditional Mexican just speaks to my soul.

girl with freckles said...

El Azteca gave me diarrhea the last last time I went, and made me sick the last time I went. And I don't even eat things there with meat in them, so needless to say I'm not a big fan.

Bajio, on the other hand, big fan. If you go to the one in south Provo (instead of the Riverwoods) they tend to give you more. Also, at that one they have a vegetarian bajio flauta that is heaven on earth.

Cicada said...

I love cilantro any way it comes. They don't even have it in Italy (from what I was aware) and when one day I tasted it for the first time in almost 18 months, I started spontaneously crying tears of joy. It had been brought over from Ecuador that morning by my friend's relative.

El Azteca is a totally different kind of restaurant, but I absolutely must say that their nachos are to die for. And SUCH a cheap dinner, since Murray and I, between the two of us, can't even finish one order of them. If you haven't tried them out, I highly recommend them. And definitely try their salsa. They have different kinds, and I'm sure the one I use is the mildest, but it also has the most surprising taste ever. I love it.

(And sorry for those who've gotten sick there. I maintain that if you do get sick, it's still worth it.)

christovich79 said...

I'm a fan of grilled-chicken salads at Cafe Rio. I tried to get the analog at Costa Vida, and I was sorely disappointed. Yuckitty-yuck-yuck

Rynell said...

Now I am hungry.

Bethany said...

Bajio is my fave as well... I really like the mexican pizza but mix it up with the choice of rice, beans and sauce (I've been having serious heartburn issues so I've been having to settle for weak sauce lately!) I always get the mesquite lime chicken though...mmmmm.

daltongirl said...

Bajio is the best, because of their sweet rice and that chicken with like two cups of sugar per serving. But you should try the salmon salad (secret menu item) at Cafe Rio. It's pretty good. It's very easy to get sick of all these places, but I also have to plug for Cafe Rio b/c they have whole wheat tortillas. Even though I like Bajio best.

Also, how steaming is that pile of crap? DB and I laughed until we wept.

Anonymous said...

I don't think any of you guys know real mexican food, there is no mexican food in this side of the border,period