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Restaurant Happenings - May 2005

The No Frills Grill
Moab UT 84532

The Rio’s Grill Still Thrills,
Even Without Frills

by Deirdre O. Keating

Dream with me, please, and imagine that the 2005 Chicago Cubs are blessed by whatever curse-breakin’ spirit graced the Boston Red Sox last season. After hiking or biking in Moab on the day of that big game, you don’t want to spend the evening screaming in front of a small TV screen in your hotel room. You want two things: a very cold beer and a very big TV screen, as well as the community that a sports bar & grill provides when you just can’t make it to Wrigleyville that night.

Enter Alan Fogg, who can’t make any promises for the Cubs, but has created the perfect spot to eat well and cheap, while socializing and watching any big game you can imagine. After retiring from UPS in Denver four years ago, Alan “just couldn’t take the big city anymore.” His love of the backcountry brought him to Moab, where he has poured all his energy into creating The Rio’s No Frills Grill. This fun, friendly place is a favorite with many locals, while also welcoming visitors from all over the world.

As a private club, the Rio has been affected by recent changes in Utah’s convoluted liquor laws. Yet Alan has remained committed to keeping the kitchen open. Since family dining at private clubs has been eliminated under the newest laws, Alan has stripped the menu of frills (hence the new name) and gotten it down to the essentials without a lot of high preps. Nevertheless, other than some appetizers, everything is made on site. Allan says confidently, “You always get more than you pay for here.”

The grill still offers a diverse selection of sandwiches, including hamburgers, BLTs, clubs, Italian sausage, and Philly cheese steaks. And their Reuben is made the way a Reuben should be: corn beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Thousand Island dressing on dark rye bread. The menu features an impressive assortment of appetizers. The sample plate, at $6.00, includes Jalapeno poppers with salsa and sour cream, chicken fingers with ranch or blue cheese dressing, cheese sticks with marinara sauce, and a portion of popcorn shrimp and onion rings. There are also Buffalo wings, fried mushrooms, corn dogs, potato skins, and, of course, baskets of French fries.

Is there anywhere else in town where you can fulfill your craving for falafel? Six falafel balls are served in two half pita shells with lettuce, tomato, and your choice of yogurt-cucumber or Tahini-lemon dressing. The vegetarian menu also includes a veggie burger and a mushroom or bean burrito. Alan is best known for his green chili, a past winner at the Grand County Fair, as well as all his Mexican dishes, from chili cheese rellenos to three kinds of quesadillas. The most popular dish, besides his green chili, is the steak and shrimp deal. At only $7.95 a plate, it’s hard to beat!

Alan is proudest of having a “relaxed, friendly place” with an amazing staff, many of whom have been with the Rio for years. “If it wasn’t for my staff, I wouldn’t be here,” says Alan. “We are always striving for perfection, and offering high quality for low cost.” They are also always offering entertainment, via sports or music. “There isn’t a seat in the place that doesn’t have a good view,” Alan observes. With a 70” screen in the center, and several ceiling-mounted TVs throughout the restaurant, you are sure to find whatever team you love whenever they are playing. The Rio has every sports channel conceivable, including ESPN, ESPN2, Fox Sports Net, and the NFL as well as the NHL ticket, supported by satellite as well as cable.

Karaoke is offered Sunday-Thursday from 9:00 pm till 1:00 am, with live music on the weekends. While out of town bands play at times, Alan makes an effort to support local bands like Stonefed. “I spend locally, on everything I buy and do, and try to encourage our local talent,” explains Alan. There is also the opportunity to play pool and foosball, or just enjoy a cold one at the extended bar with a beautiful oak top.

It’s obvious that Alan invests a great deal into constantly updating the No Frills Grill. There are new tables and bar stools, as well as a top-of-the-line Honeywell system to eliminate smoke, allowing smokers and nonsmokers to enjoy the same area comfortably. In addition, the upper patio will be opening soon.

Under the newest Utah laws, you must be 21 years old and either a member or sponsored by a member in order to enter the Rio. Annual membership is $12.00, while out of town guests can pay a reduced $4.00 visitor fee that is good for three weeks. There is no charge if you are accompanied by a friend who is already a member and willing to sponsor you.

Alan stays motivated by always having something new going on at the Rio, such as the recent offering of Saturday lunch. Meanwhile, other things stay traditional, like the extremely cold beer. Alan sums it all up by saying, “Basically I enjoy my job, the people and this town. I am very hands-on, almost always here, so people can talk directly to the owner.” Come in soon and say hi to Alan. And, while you’re there, say a prayer for those Cubbies!


Recipe of the Month

No Frills Grill at The Rio

375° Carrot Cake
Commercial-sized recipe – reduce accordingly

Cake Ingredients:
4 cups flour
4 tsp baking soda (NOT baking powder)
2 tsp salt
5 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
8 eggs
4 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups white sugar
3 cups corn oil
7 cups peeled/shredded carrots

Instructions: Oil and flour a large cake pan. Mix flour, soda, salt, cinnamon and allspice together. In a processor, beat the eggs, vanilla, and white sugar. While the motor is running, slowly add the corn oil. Then mix the dry and wet ingredients. Stir in the carrots. Fill the pan and bake at 375° until the sides pull away from the pan, approximately 45 minutes.

Frosting: Mix 12 oz softened cream cheese with ¾ cup butter/margarine. Add ½ tsp salt, 2 tsp vanilla, 6 Tbsp Half & Half. When well-mixed, gradually add 7 cups of powdered sugar. Do not overbeat. Spread on completely cooled cake.

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