Rio Charcoal Grill (Colombian), Wilkes-Barre PA
Right off I-81 exit 165 (Wilkes-Barre/Mountain Top), Wilkes-Barre, PA.
I've been meaning to stop here before this place closed due to horrible location and lousy building (a converted Dunkin' Donuts). I was there around 2PM, and the place was empty. I got my order to go.
The menu is pretty simple: ribs, chicken, sausage. There are some other things, but that's pretty much it. Sides are fried plantains, rice, beans, fries, and mashed potatoes, Colombian potatoes, macaroni and potato salads, and coleslaw.
I ordered the Rio Grill Platter: chicken, ribs, fried plantains, Colombian sausage, and fried pork belly (one of those "other things"), rice, and beans. It came with two BBQ sauces as well, one very sweet and molasses-y, the other very hot, like Scotch Bonnet hot.
From the top:
The ribs were okay, grilled rather than slow-cooked.They were a little chewy, like grilled ribs can be, but they were still ribs, and ribs are good. They were meaty, but bland.
The chicken was good. The breast wasn't dried out at all, and the thigh was juicy. Also a little bland.
Loved the plantains. Plantains are awesome. America should be in love with plantains instead of bananas.
The chorizo was excellent. I would eat this every day. It was spicy and well balanced. It is pretty obviously home made.
The fried pork belly (chicharrón), that was really good. It was chewy and meaty and really tasty.
The rice is decent, the beans are forgettable. And it is a heck of a lot of food for $14, I shared it with two other people.
While I was waiting the owner gave me an empañada to try, it was excellent. No photo. I'd rather have 4 of those empañadas at $1 each than a Big Mac at $3.99.
I hate to go lukewarm on a place that is obviously trying hard, but I don't think that Rio Charcoal Grill is going to make it, and it isn't because of the crappy location and the lousy facility. It's because the food is just okay, not good enough to even come close to overcoming the other two problems. You can't make a living on chorizo and chicharrón. I work about 10 minutes away, and I wouldn't consider it over any number of other choices. It's unusual ethnic food, but it just okay. I can't see myself bringing people here and raving, "You gotta try...." Because then they'd have to go all polite on me.
EDIT: After writing this, I googled "Colombian food", and the first hit was this: Colombian Food: the Worst of the Worst:
I didn’t understand what “bad food” meant until I moved to Colombia. Bad food doesn’t mean unpleasant flavors. It means no flavor. It means flavorless food at every meal. It means meals aren’t a part of the day to look forward to.
Yeah, that's about right.
post edited by Mosca - 2016/05/11 15:20:32