Thursday, June 28, 2012
Photos: Urban Rio in Plano hosts media event and grand opening party
Grand restaurant complex seems poised to give old downtown Plano a boost.
PLANO Urban Rio, the new multi-concept Mexican restaurant-complex in east Plano from Nathan and Bonnie Shea, opened this week with a media dinner on Tuesday and a grand opening event on Wednesday that drew an SRO crowd.
The Sheas have already rejuvenated Old Downtown Plano with their pizzeria Urban Crust, a key opening along with Fillmore Pub and Vickery Park that helped transform 15th Street from a sleepy strip with antique shops to the entertainment destination it is today. Urban Rio seems destined to raise the stakes even further.
The complex is one block away from the main drag, and that's been a liability for failed smaller businesses such as Sheik's and Last Chance Saloon & Restaurant. But Urban Rio has a scale and polish that creates momentum.
At the media dinner, Shea gave tours, pointing out the Fumasa machine that would grind the corn for house-made tortillas; the poster-size photos of the original ice house that was once at this location; the brick construction that paid homage to the ice house's legacy; the lighting fixtures that evoked cubes of ice held by ice tongs; the four tequilas on tap; the third-floor room for cooking classes and special events; and the rooftop patio that afforded views of downtown Dallas on a clear day.
At the media event, plentiful snacks and cocktails were served for free, with chef Ryan Olmos offering descriptions of the "Rio-inspired" Tex-Mex dishes, including kobe beef on skewers; tri-level chicken quesadillas; fish tacos; fajitas; an excellent guacamole with a chip medley that included a pale green cactus-pear; and an orange flan.
The restaurant portion is currently open, soon to be joined by an almost-finished adjacent gelato shop, accessible through the restaurant or via its own entrance.
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