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Rio Ranch Restaurant: Texas Hill Country Ambiance in Houston

I live in Houston and love writing reviews of the local restaurants I visit with family and friends.

Exterior of Rio Ranch Restaurant in Houston

Exterior of Rio Ranch Restaurant in Houston

Delicious Food in a Charming, Rustic Atmosphere

The Texas Hill Country is alluring for many reasons, and the Rio Ranch Restaurant captures some of those qualities. There are rolling hills, creeks, and lakes that offer much in the way of beauty as well as recreation. Each city or town has its unique qualities drawing people from far and wide.

Texas Hill Country Decor

One does not have to travel to Wimberley, New Braunfels, Fredericksburg, Canyon Lake, or the many other Hill Country locations to be able to appreciate a small sense of what one might find by way of building materials, decor, and atmosphere. It is right here in Houston at the Rio Ranch Restaurant, founded in 1993, and located in the Westchase Hilton Hotel.

There is a beautifully landscaped water feature outside of the restaurant that they call the Rio Ranch Creek.

Lots of cedar trees grow in the Hill Country. Notice the knarled cedar posts utilized as supports outside of this restaurant. I have the cutest photo of my mother hugging one of them when we took a visiting relative from Wisconsin to the Rio Ranch Restaurant many years ago. We wished for Aunt Arry to experience the ambiance and good food in this particular restaurant. She loved it!

Entryway looking towards the bar

Entryway looking towards the bar

Interior Decor

The warm and inviting atmosphere inside the entryway includes comfortable rocking chairs, warm earth-toned walls, and lots of Texana-inspired accent pieces.

Limestone that comes from the Hill Country is used both inside and outside of this establishment. The limestone fireplace is a whopping 30 feet tall! The bar in the “saloon” consists of a long solid piece of mesquite wood, which is another type of tree common to the Hill Country as well as other areas of Texas.

As you can see from my photos, the decor is Western-inspired with a Hill Country twist. From horseshoes to horse saddles, punched tin light fixtures to leather-type table coverings, there is much to admire.

Eye-Catching Chandelier

One of the most eye-catching features is a large chandelier in the main dining room. At first glance, it appears that it consists of a bunch of antlers. With further inspection suddenly other items are also part of its design. Those items include garden rakes, scythes, plows, and more.

Delicious Food

You are probably curious about the food if you are reading about this restaurant for the first time. Let me assure you; it is delicious! The first thing presented to the table is a basket of delicious cornbread and biscuits—housemade, of course.

Chef Hemwattakit

In consulting the Rio Ranch website, I learned that Chef Hemwattakit was one of the restaurant chefs who cooked for President George H.W. Bush and other attendees of the 1990 Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations held here in Houston.

Chef David Wang of Shanghai River Restaurant was also another participant. That alone speaks volumes!

Chicken tortilla soup

Chicken tortilla soup

Weekly Lunch Specials

One of the best deals on the menu is the Monday to Friday "Meat and 3 Sides Lunch Special," currently priced at $13. My husband and I recently ate there on a Friday when the blackened tilapia was the “meat” of the day.

  • Monday: Buttermilk fried chicken breast
  • Tuesday: Beef and sausage brochette
  • Wednesday: Pork chop
  • Thursday: Mesquite savory chicken

One has a choice of these sides for the lunch special:

  • Cup of chicken tortilla Soup (or soup of the day)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Creamed corn
  • Mac and cheese
  • Green beans
  • Side salad

Our Lunch Choices

As you can see from my photos above, we indulged a bit and ordered the mac and cheese as one of our sides. It indeed was loaded with cheese! The green beans still had a bit of crunch, which was perfect, and the tilapia was tender and oh-so delicious! We started with a cup of their tasty tortilla soup. It was a considerable amount of food, and we did not need much more to eat later in the day.

There are many more menu items as well as a couple of private dining rooms at the restaurant. The waitstaff is friendly and attentive.

Where Is It Located?

The Rio Ranch Restaurant is a part of the Westchase Hilton Hotel located at 9999 Westheimer, Houston, Texas 77042. You may enter the restaurant from the free parking out front or via the hotel. The food, ambiance, and service make this a restaurant well worth patronizing. I know that we will be back!


© 2020 Peggy Woods