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Restaurant review: RIO Eat & Drink slices between spicy, exotic tastes

Aly Mizesko / Lantern reporter

If you’re looking to spice up your restaurant selection, look no further than RIO Eat & Drink.

The restaurant offers dishes from around the globe. Highlighting many different flavors, it features spicier meals, but also offers milder options for those who prefer less of a kick.

RIO, located at 2159 N. High St., is an excellent location on the intersection of Lane Avenue and High St. The sign out front might read “RIO Eat & Drink & Flirt,” but don’t let the “flirt” part keep you from having lunch or dinner there. The restaurant doubles as a nightclub.

As my friend and I walked into the restaurant, it was clear the restaurant’s primary function was as a nightclub, with blue lights shining on the walls and pictures of harlequin women as decorations. The restaurant looks like it could fit about 50 people, and there is a huge bar in the middle of the room. The rest of the space is dedicated to the nightclub facet, with a huge sunken dance floor and a balcony. During the day, however, the atmosphere is welcoming and relaxed.

The menu has a score of options, including traditional choices such as wraps, salads and sandwiches. RIO adds flavors such as ginger and chimichurri to put a new spin on old favorites.

The restaurant also has more exotic choices, such as feijoada (which is a Brazilian stew), fried plantains (it tastes like a mix between potatoes and bananas), lo mein and fried yuca.

Definitely give these more exotic foods a try if you dine here.

The pricing is very reasonable for lunch selections. Most of the more expensive dishes are meant to be shared between two people. There is one rip-off, however: the sword, which was similar to a shish kabob. In RIO’s defense, maybe I was just totally ignorant and didn’t order as much as I could have on a sword, or maybe I did. I have no idea.

Either way, I paid $13 for four tiny pieces of meat, some veggies and two sides (but it did have some really great sauce on the side). When I’m paying that much for a single kabob, it better have more than four measly pieces of meat on it. Yes, it was good, and surprisingly, I was really full after eating that meal. But the two sides were bigger than the entire entrée.

To RIO’s credit, my friend said her meal, a wrap much more reasonably priced at $8, was delicious. It included a Caesar ginger aioli dressing, which was sensational. This price and quality seems to be the standard of the menu, so it’s hard to go wrong with a selection.

The service was excellent, with the small exception of a hostess forgetting to give us silverware, but I won’t hold that against anyone. We were two of about six customers there, but nonetheless, the staff didn’t use that as an excuse to slack off.

Overall, RIO shows a lot of promise if it can gain a loyal customer base. The food and environment are awesome and it exposes customers to international flavors in a simple and innovative way.

Just stay away from the sword.

Grade: B+

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