LIPGLOSS Goes Out: Rio’s Brazilian

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LIPGLOSS is a weekly dating and humor blog. Check back every Thursday for anything from restaurant reviews to dating advice to eclectic lists.

No matter how awesome creative day dates can be, there’s still something special about a nice dinner somewhere.

But falling back on the same restaurants over and over again can get stale. Kerbey Lane pancakes are awesome the first forty times, but I start to crave a little variety. And, living in Austin, there’s pretty much no reason to not venture out and try something different. The possibilities are overwhelming.

So why not Brazilian? If you’re like me, you probably have very few preconceived notions about Brazilian cuisine. And half of these are based on the assumption that it’s something like Mexican food (it isn’t). Not to worry. Rio’s will show you the light.

The atmosphere: This place is adorable. It’s kind of quintessentially Austin in that it’s small, quirky, colorful, and nestled in what is pretty much a residential area off Pleasant Valley. There’s also, like, no parking, as per Austin fashion. But I’m a big girl, and one of these days I’ll learn to parallel park, so whatever.

Once you’re actually inside, or on their patio, the stress of midterms, homework, and Northbound I-35 on a Friday afternoon melts away. You’re in a tiny little Brazilian paradise. All the colors are bright, all the waiters are friendly, and everything on the menu looks delicious. This leaves you in great condition to make lovey eyes at whoever you brought with you.

The date: Rio’s isn’t necessarily a “safe” dinner date choice, which I think is its strength. It’s one significant step past the “Do you like burgers?” stage of a dating relationship, letting you venture into some less common fare. Brazilian flavors might strike some people as strong and unfamiliar, but if someone’s game to try a dish they can barely pronounce, I count that as a plus.

Overall, it’s not as painfully trendy as some of the food trucks I’ve seen around lately; it’s a refreshing break from the pun-y, sort-of-good fusion food that “adventurous eating” usually connotes.

Take someone here and they’ll either be like, “Wow, this restaurant is so hole-in-the-wall-y, this girl/guy must be so cool and hip,” or, “Wow, this restaurant is so hole-in-the-wall-y, this girl/guy is as cool and hip as I am.”

Actually, a third option might be, “Wow, this restaurant is so janky, like, I’m sitting at a table on a gravel patio with mismatched chairs, this is a deal breaker,” in which case that person was boring anyway and you’ll be glad to get rid of them.

The food: Obviously this is the most important part. It’s so good. They’ve got some awesome shellfish appetizer dishes and this spherical cheese bread that even the pickiest eater would like. A lot of their dishes are served with “yucca fries,” made from the root, which are kind of dense but surprisingly good.

Some of the best items are their salgadinhos–savory pastries filled with anything from spicy ground beef to different kinds of cheese. Hearty and satisfying, but totally cute and begging for Instagram. So if you’re into that, it’s a win-win.