Rio Grill 101 Crossroads Blvd./Hwy.1, in Crossroads shopping center, (831) 625-5436. L-D daily; $$. Reservations taken.
This bright, airy restaurant is popular with locals who like to hang out in its inviting bar area. It is a reliable workhorse for anything from a snack to a full meal, including American classics (barbecued ribs, a burger) as well as Southwestern/Mexican-style dishes (scrumptious tri-tip empanadas, a poblano pepper stuffed with a creative veggie mix). The house-smoked chicken with luscious chili butter is a favorite, and you absolutely must experience the delicious signature roasted artichoke appetizer. Indeed, the menu begs for repeat visits. Creative, made-from-scratch margaritas include the basic as well as the special—a blood orange version with chili syrup.
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image ©2012 Carole Terwilliger Meyers