Short ribs make for a meat eater's paradise.
The succulent beef is so achingly tender that after a long, slow roast in the oven, it practically melts on the tongue. Short ribs are just that good - especially if they come from Rio Cafe.
One Food Fight commenter couldn't stop using the exclamation-point key while gushing about the four-year-old eatery that serves up Latin-inspired dishes.
"Rio Cafe without question - slow-roasted, fall-off-the-bone, delicious! Can't be beat!"
The $21 Costillas de Res - as the short ribs are called on the menu - has been a staple since the restaurant opened and is one of Rio's most popular dishes, said co-owner Richard Epling.
"It's very rich and very flavorful," Epling said. "It is comfort food."
Short ribs are one of the richest cuts of beef available, Epling explained.
They're cuts from the underside of the cow's rib cage, where the meat tends to be more tender. They're heftier than spare ribs, which come from the top of the rib cage.
At Rio, chef and co-owner Eduardo Huerta highlights boneless, Certified Angus Beef ribs by searing a dark crust onto them before braising them for hours in a bath that includes spices and orange juice. When the dish comes out of the oven, the sauce is reduced to a thick demi-glace. Before the ribs are served, with poblano mashed potatoes, that sauce is reduced again.
One recent evening, an entire table of four ordered the dish. Each diner fell in love, Epling said.
Pastiche Modern Eatery also earned raves for its Certified Angus Beef short ribs, which pop up regularly as a special or on holiday menus.
"It's kind of old-school," said Pastiche head chef James Walsh.
At Christmas and New Year's, Walsh braised short ribs with beef stock, onions and white wine. He served a pound of bone-in ribs with mashed root vegetables (carrots, and regular and sweet potatoes) and a sinfully rich, cabernet-kissed demi-glace. The dish sells for $27.
"The sauce makes it," Walsh said.
Where to find killer short ribs
• Pastiche Modern Eatery, 3025 N. Campbell Ave.; 325-3333; www.pasticheme.com
• Rio Cafe, 2526 E. Grant Road; 323-5003; www.rio-cafe.com
"Slow-roasted, fall-off-the-bone, delicious. Can't be beat."
Rio Cafe customer