#44 of 52 Taco Challenge/Big Bear/Dam Keeper

12/16/2020 – Today Cafe Rio Mexican Grill Tacos made the cut for my 52 taco challenge – one for each week of the year. Four factors favored in.

It’s winter and it would’ve been cold for me at 52 degrees. Remember we are under a no dining in quarantine on account of covid. Eating outside in Big Bear this afternoon vs outside in 73 degree sunshine weather on a park like Covid-19 free bench by the Cafe Rio Tacos near home.

The freshness of their ingredients; the sweet pork barbacoa ingredient wrapped around homemade extra large tortillas are fantastic.

Forget for a moment that they are a chain. People eat at chains all the time. Why there is even a Taco Bell (chain) In Tijuana and it is also very popular. Taco Bell currently has 6,604 outlets in 22 countries and territories throughout the world.

We’re talking places like Peru, Finland, Sri Lanka, and Romania; even China is in on the taco action. And also on the tiny Micronesian island of Guam. If I recall correctly while I was deployed in Bosnia we even had a Taco Bell, KFC and Baskin Robbins in Tuzla Main. About an hour’s convoy ride away to where I was once deployed.

There is also another pretend Taco Bell not far from the Arch in TJ that subject to Covid 19 may also get my review. Although I’ve already eaten there but, it was too long ago to count. Plus I need pictures for it to count. This place has been around for 7 years and if I recall correctly has only two types of tacos $2 each and cold beer for a $1.

Taco Reviewed: Cafe Rio Mexican Grill

One star is considered poor; two stars is good, three stars is very good, four stars is great, five stars is excellent!

1. Scenic Historic Location – 2 star; nearby the entire area used to be dairy farms; in the summer the flies are still around.

Fairly subjective and a wild card rating

2. Value – 4 star; Fresh, clean and homemade ingredients top the list however, one pays a price for this. At the high end of the value scale i.e. not your local tacos more your yuppie tacos.

Value for your money.

3. Food Flavor and Texture – 5 star- uniqueness of the food and ingredients

4. Food Presentation – 4 star- picture is worth a thousand words here.

5. Service, Setting and Cleanliness – 5 compared to your traditional taco trucks or road side stands, a chain restaurant has people looking over their shoulders to ensure everything is into compliance. You won’t find this score just anywhere.

Cleanliness is also considered a strong factor as we are in a Covid year.

To get here I took a little ride; four hours round trip to enjoy some twisty roads and views that on a clearer day would’ve allowed me to see as far away as Catalina Island. But, truth be told I came up here to visit and hike to the Dam Keepers home. Sort of like a lighthouse keepers home only think dam bursting vs ships grounding. Anyway dam keeping went out of fashion some time ago and the city failed to maintain the historic home. Today it looks like just a rock wall up above the lake. If the dam did burst this dam keeper and his family would be left “high and dry.”