Food & Drink

Rio Grande opens in Fairview Heights with more than 20 margarita flavors on the menu

Rio Grande opens in Fairview Heights

Rio Grande, a new Mexican eatery in Fairview Heights, has opened for business.
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Rio Grande, a new Mexican eatery in Fairview Heights, has opened for business.

One of the newest restaurants in the metro-east has quickly become a popular place to go for authentic Mexican dishes, desserts and margaritas.

Rafael Onale and his partners recently opened Rio Grande in Fairview Heights in the former home of Applebee’s Bar and Grill near the Marcus St. Clair Cine. The restaurant, located at 47 Ludwig Drive, serves lunch and dinner seven days a week.

Here’s everything you need to know about Rio Grande’s menu and makeover:

What’s on the menu?

From cheesy burritos served with a tiny Mexican flag in the center ($9.75) to sweet and sour mango tacos served with rice and beans ($11.75), Rio Grande offers a wide range of traditional and adventurous Mexican cuisine.

Pro tip: The restaurant also has a long list of options for seafood lovers who want to stuff their tacos with fish and shrimp. Chances are your children will easily find something fun on the menu, too. This Mexican eatery has 10 kid friendly-dishes ($5.75) for children under 12.

A look at the sweet and sour tacos from Rio Grande. Cara Anthony

Ready for dessert?

You’ll find fried ice cream ($5.75) and traditional sopapillas ($2.75) on the menu along with flan ($3.75) and chimi cheeescake ($5.75) served with ice cream. If you want to drink your dessert, Rio Grande also serves nine traditional Mexican sodas made with real sugar cane.

Going for margaritas?

The flavor combinations are endless at Rio Grande where you can chose from more than 20 margarita flavors. From strawberry and mango to a spicy jalapeno margarita served with a spicy rim, the restaurant has plenty of flavor options.

A classic margarita served with salt or sugar on the rim goes for $4.50 a glass. If you’re hanging out with a crowd, large pitchers at Rio Grande cost $18.75 for a classic mix. The restaurant has also has a full bar, soft drinks and three lemonade flavors: cherry, blue raspberry and strawberry.

Rio Grande opens in former home of Applebee’s in Fairview Heights. Cara Anthony

What about the atmosphere?

It’s a total gut job inside. The former home to Applebee’s has been flipped into a Mexican oasis from top to bottom. New seating, fresh paint, new floors and mosaic tile will transform the former home of Applebee’s into a Mexican restaurant with a new look and a new vibe.

Want to go?

Rio Grande, located at 47 Ludwig Dr. in Fairview Heights, is open from 11 a.m to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call 618-213-7200.

Cara Anthony covers restaurants and retail for the Belleville News-Democrat, where she works to answer readers’ questions about restaurant openings, business closures and the best new dishes in the metro-east. She attended Althoff Catholic High School in Belleville and grew up in East St. Louis.