Driving along Atchison Street in Riverbank there is a Mexican restaurant that has a large coffee cup on the front that was once called La Salsa Fresh and has been renamed to El Rio Café. Owners Sal and Maria Becerra have owned the restaurant for five years at its current location. Previously they had a restaurant in Modesto that was a success; however, it was a bit too small for the business that they were getting. They looked for a larger restaurant and found a nice building with a large dining room, nice size kitchen, and an outdoor patio in Riverbank.
Due to another business that owned the name La Salsa Fresh they had to change their name. They selected the name El Rio Café after meeting the restaurant’s previous owner that explained that in the ‘30s the restaurant was called El Rio Café.
Maria has been making homemade tortillas since she could barely reach the counter standing on a stepping stool. All her recipes are made from scratch whether it is the sauces, the tortillas, or the salads. The recipes come from either a family recipe or one of her own creations that she has perfected throughout the years.
“Everything is made by my wife,” added Sal. “Our chili verde is like no other with homemade corn tortillas that are made fresh. We have been told by many customers that we have the best grilled fish tacos.”
“I have been coming here for the past few months and I love the food,” stated customer, Linda Miller. “They have really good friendly service, nice clean restrooms, and a homemade ranch dressing that is really good which you don’t see in many restaurants. You can taste the difference.”
Some of the items you can find on the menu are the customer favorite grilled shrimp or grilled fish tacos, a variety of salads like the taco salad, chicken salad and shrimp salad, menudo on Saturday and Sunday, carne asada fries, tostadas, chile rellenos, carnitas, tilapia, chicken Monterey, sopes, Molcajete, and other savory items.
“The food is excellent,” added Miller. “I personally like their grilled shrimp and fish tacos. They have tripas, tongue, chivo, and birria which are usually found on taco trucks but not at typical Mexican restaurants.”
To quench that thirst at the El Rio Café they offer a mega michelada, with a beer of your choice like Modelo, Corona, Dos Equis, Pacifico, or Victoria to name a few. This monster of a beverage comes with grilled shrimp and cucumber slices with your choice of beer and as spicy as you desire. They also offer wine, wine margaritas, Jarritos, and an assortment of sodas.
For the past three years, throughout the summer the restaurant has hosted Friday night Karaoke on the patio from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Guests are invited to sing and enjoy $2 tacos, draft beers, raffle prizes and family fun. This will continue until the end of September.
“The people are fun,” stated Miller. “The people that do it sing really well themselves so they are really entertaining.”
“We hope to be around for a while,” said Sal. “We love Riverbank and our customers.”
Guests can dine in or take out at the El Rio Café, 3543 Atchison St., Riverbank and they also offer catering.
For more information, call 209-863-9000.