Friday Feature: Restaurant Spotlight – Cafe Rio

Who does not LOVE Cafe Rio, or a restaurant similar in nature (Costa Vida, Bajio’s, Chipotle, etc.)?  If you find someone who doesn’t love these places, let me know because they would come from a rare and unique breed!

One of the most common questions that come from my clients is, “where can I eat out and what can I order.”  While I’ve given pretty good (well, maybe GREAT) guidelines in a previous post, most of my clients will specifically ask for instructions on how to order at Cafe Rio (or similar places).  I finally decided that, due to the abundant questions in similar nature, this was blog worthy.

Did you know that a typical, full-size salad will be over 1200 calories at these places?!  Holy moly!  That’s practically an entire day’s worth of calories for a lot of people.   Well, I’ve figured out a way to order a tasty salad, and I’ve cut more than half of those calories out!  Here’s how you do it, folks!

Remember, we’re looking for a balanced meal of a lean protein, one serving of a complex carbohydrate, and veggies.  Here’s how we get it!

Instead of ordering a full salad, you’re going to order a Grilled Chicken Tostada Salad with a soft shell tortilla (order wheat if they have wheat ones…most locations do) and no cheese.  You will need to choose rice or black beans as we don’t need multiple complex carbohydrates in one meal, so you get to choose one.  If interested, black beans will be a more nutritious choice.  Now, veggies are “free” (so-to-speak) so load up on the lettuce and the pico (I often times ask for an extra scoop of pico de gallo).  As you wrap up your salad order you’ll want to ensure you don’t get the sour cream or the tortilla strips.  Order the vinaigrette dressing (cilantro-lime dressing = YUM) and NOT the creamy tomatillo dressing.  They usually put the dressing on the side for you, so you shouldn’t have to ask them to do that.  And, when you actually go to eat your salad, you should only need about half of it (the dressing, that is!).

This will put you in the 400-500 calorie range.  Now, that’s some serious calorie cutting right there!

If you want to further cut calories, you can also cut out the tortilla altogether and eat none of the dressing.  I actually find that if I order extra pico, the flavor is enhanced enough that I enjoy the salad perfectly without the dressing!

So, in summary . . . We are going to go from a 1200+ calorie entree to a 400-500 calorie entree by ordering:

A Grilled Chicken Tostada Salad,
On a soft-wheat tortilla,
No Cheese,
Black Beans,
No Rice,
Lots of lettuce,
Lots of Pico de Gallo
and Cilantro-Lime Dressing on the Side

Deeeeeeeelish, if you ask me!  And, you don’t have to feel like you’re ever deprived from eating at one of your most favorite places!  Anyone want to meet me for lunch?  Let’s go!


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