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Rio Ranch Restaurant: Inspired by Texas Hill Country

Rio Ranch Exterior
Posted: December 21, 2018 at 6:57 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Delicious Food in Charming Rustic Atmosphere: Rio Ranch

The Texas Hill Country is alluring for many reasons. There are rolling hills, creeks, and lakes that offer much in the way of beauty as well as recreation. Each city or town has its unique qualities drawing people from far and wide.

Rio Ranch Exterior

Rio Ranch Exterior

Rio Ranch Exterior with Mural

Rio Ranch Exterior with Mural

One does not have to travel to Wimberley, San Antonio, New Braunfels, Fredericksburg, Canyon Lake or the many other Hill Country locations to be able to appreciate a small sense of what one might find by way of building materials, decor, and atmosphere. It is right here in Houston at the Rio Ranch Restaurant located in the Westchase Hilton Hotel. 1993 was the date of this restaurant’s origin.

There is a beautifully landscaped water feature outside of the restaurant that they call the Rio Ranch Creek.

Rio Ranch Exterior

Rio Ranch Exterior

Lots of cedar trees grow in the Hill Country. Notice the knarled cedar posts utilized as supports outside of this restaurant. I have the cutest photo of my mother hugging one of them when we took a visiting relative from Wisconsin to the Rio Ranch many years ago. We wished for Aunt Arry to experience the ambiance and good food in this particular restaurant. She loved it!

Rio Ranch Entryway Looking Towards the Bar

Rio Ranch Entryway Looking Towards the Bar

The warm and inviting atmosphere inside the entryway includes comfortable rocking chairs, warm earth-toned walls and lots of Texana inspired accent pieces.

Looking into the main dining room from entryway at Rio Ranch

Looking into the main dining room from entryway at Rio Ranch

Rio Ranch Bar Area

Rio Ranch Bar Area

Limestone that comes from the Hill Country is used both inside and outside of this establishment. The limestone fireplace is a whopping 30 feet tall! The bar in the “saloon” consists of a long solid piece of mesquite wood which is another type of tree common to the Hill Country as well as other areas of Texas.

Condiments on tables at Rio Ranch

Condiments on tables at Rio Ranch

Rio Ranch main dining room art

Rio Ranch main dining room art

Rio Ranch main dining room art

Rio Ranch main dining room art

Rio Ranch main dining room

Rio Ranch main dining room

Unique chandelier inside Rio Ranch main dining room

Unique chandelier inside Rio Ranch main dining room

As you can see from my photos, the decor is western inspired with a Hill Country twist. From horseshoes to horse saddles, punched tin light fixtures to leather-type table coverings, there is much to admire.

Rio Ranch Restaurant Main Dining Room

Rio Ranch Restaurant Main Dining Room

One of the most eye-catching features is a large chandelier in the main dining room. At first glance, it appears that it consists of a bunch of antlers. With further inspection suddenly other items are also part of its design. Those items include garden rakes, scythes, plows and more.

Basket of cornbread and biscuits at Rio Ranch

Basket of cornbread and biscuits at Rio Ranch

You are probably curious about the food if you are reading about the Rio Ranch Restaurant for the first time. Let me assure you; it is delicious! The first thing presented to the table is a basket of tasty cornbread and biscuits, house made of course.

Fried Calamari at Rio Ranch...crispy and delicious with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce.

Fried Calamari at Rio Ranch…crispy and delicious with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce.

Smoked Chili Wings at Rio Ranch...tossed in a black sauce and served with a creamy blue cheese dressing. Spicy and good!

Smoked Chili Wings at Rio Ranch…tossed in a black sauce and served with a creamy blue cheese dressing. Spicy and good!

In consulting the Rio Ranch website, I learned that Chef Hemwattakit was one of the restaurant chefs who cooked for President George H.W. Bush and other attendees of the 1990 Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations held here in Houston. Chef David Wang of Shanghai River Restaurant was also another participant. That alone speaks volumes!

Chicken Tortilla Soup at Rio Ranch

Chicken Tortilla Soup at Rio Ranch

One of the best deals on the menu is the Monday to Friday Meat and 3 Sides Lunch Special currently priced at $13. My husband and I recently ate there on a Friday when the Blackened Tilapia was the “meat” of the day.

  • Buttermilk Fried Chicken Breast is the offering on Mondays.
  • Tuesday it is Beef and Sausage Brochette.
  • Pork-Chop takes center stage on Wednesday
  • Mesquite Savory Chicken is the choice on Thursday.
Blackened Tilapia on the plate with 2 of 3 sides at Rio Ranch

Blackened Tilapia on the plate with 2 of 3 sides at Rio Ranch

One has a choice of these sides for the lunch special:

  • Cup of Chicken Tortilla Soup or Soup of the Day
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Creamed Corn
  • Mac and Cheese
  • Green Beans
  • Side Salad
A fork full of delicious blackened tilapia at Rio Ranch

A fork full of delicious blackened tilapia at Rio Ranch

Cheesy Mac and Cheese at Rio Ranch

Cheesy Mac and Cheese at Rio Ranch

As you can see from my photos, we indulged a bit and ordered the Mac & Cheese as one of our sides. It indeed was loaded with cheese! The green beans still had a bit of crunch which was perfect, and the tilapia was tender and oh so delicious! We started with a cup of their tasty tortilla soup. It was a huge amount of food, and we did not need much more to eat later in the day.

Rio Ranch Wine Room

Rio Ranch Wine Room

There are many more menu items as well as a couple of private dining rooms at the Rio Ranch Restaurant. The wait staff is friendly and attentive.

Rio Ranch Lone Star Room

Rio Ranch Lone Star Room

The Rio Ranch Restaurant is a part of the Westchase Hilton Hotel located at 9999 Westheimer, Houston, Texas 77042. Entrance into the restaurant can be from the free parking out front or access from the hotel. The food, ambiance, and service make this a restaurant well worth patronizing. I know that we will be back!