Sisters is Shouting Ole! to Rio, a New South of the Border Dining Spot in the FivePine Campus


Restaurant owner and chef Roberto Cardenas, who also runs Rio in Madras, is thrilled to deliver delicious, distinctive Mexican cuisine to hungry Sisters Country residents.  

“I was the executive chef and general manager at La Rosa in Bend from 2005 to 2009 before branching out on my own and opening Rio in Madras in July 2011,” said Cardenas. “We’re really excited to be here in Sisters and looking forward to being a memorable culinary experience for everyone.”

The food from the eclectic menu generally hails from the Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan regions of Mexico, which is traditional Mexican fare paired with fresh seafood and tongue-teasing flavor combinations blending tart citrus and spices.

“All selections out of the kitchen are our own creations and not one of our dishes can you find in any other place,” said Cardenas, welcoming new friends as they settled into their tables opening day. “Our salsas and sauces are carefully made with different ingredients from age-old recipes belonging to my family for generations.”

Besides basic Mexican staples like spicy enchilada combo plates, sizzling fajitas and Build Your Own burritos, Rio presents something for the more exotic and adventurous tastes.

One of the standout dishes showcased on the colorful menu is the Rio Callo Y Camaron, lemon-marinated tiger prawns served over a seven pepper mole with sautéed fresh spinach and mushrooms, paired with the pan-seared scallops resting over a spinach cream sauce, accompanied by beans and rice.

Another of Cardenas’ favorites is the Vegetarian Chile Relleno, a blend of homemade cheeses and shredded monterey jack with organic zucchini and sweet corn stuffed inside a chile relleno, served over a chipotle cream sauce and beet reduction.

While Cardenas is saying Rio is different, he doesn’t want to imply they’re necessarily better than other Mexican restaurants, simply that they take pride in being distinct.

He and his partner Rocio Villalobos have been working together for over a year and a half and compliment each other with a harmonious variety of food and finance skills.

“She’s great,” he commented. “A very family-oriented person who has a true vision for the restaurant business.  Clean and professional and well organized in the kitchen.”

How does Rio expect to co-habitate in a tiny town with existing Mexican restaurants of Los Agaves and El Rancho Viejo?

“I truly respect the other two restaurants,” he said. “I think they are great people and have an excellent product and I’m excited to do business alongside them.”

Cardenas plans to develop a loyal customer base before the busy warmer months arrive next year.

“We can accommodate large parties and do cater parties, birthdays, weddings and receptions.  We offer family holiday packages for 15 percent off special events. And for our grand opening, kids 12 and under eat free through all of December.”

Being a seasoned chef and restaurant entrepreneur, Cardenas realizes how difficult it is starting a new restaurant in mid- December.

“It’s going to be a challenge but I’m not afraid,” he added. “In addition to our line of fine Mexican dishes we also stock a full bar. We’re proud to, whenever possible, use fresh juices in our cocktails and never pour pre-made margarita mix. We work as a team to treat each customer as a family member. I hope people stop by to say hello, stay and share a meal with us.”

Rio is located in the FivePine Campus on Highway 20, beside Sisters Athletic Club. It’s open for lunch and dinner 11am to close Tuesday through Sunday.

541-549-6118. Facebook at Rio Restaurant.


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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