Rio Ranch Restaurant: Inspired by Texas Hill Country
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.
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.
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!
The warm and inviting atmosphere inside the entryway includes comfortable rocking chairs, warm earth-toned walls and lots of Texana inspired accent pieces.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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.
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.
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!