Riff Raff on the Rio is a great place to chug beer and hot-as-hell margaritas

by Amanda Push

The Chokecherry Habañero Margarita at Riff Raff on the Rio is one hell of a margarita, but that also means its spices came from the very flames of Hades’ underworld. With each gulp of the pink-power cocktail, our companions have a good laugh at our expense, watching as we try to douse the inferno sizzling down our very thirsty throat. Luckily, our attentive waitress at the Pagosa Springs restaurant and soon-to-be operating brewhouse, which opened in May, is kind enough to notice how red our face gets with each sip. She kindly brings out a Silverado Margarita to end the suffering instead. It was an equally delicious tequila-fueled cocktail, but without the flames.

Other than our sizzling mixed drink (which you should definitely order if you can handle the spice), we can all agree that a late lunch on the outdoor patio of Riff Raff on the Rio is about as relaxing as it can get, especially if you happen to go on a day with beautiful weather, as we did.

Against a fairytale backdrop of a gently trickling San Juan River, we agree that if we are to ever live near Riff Raff with its delicious pours and mouth-watering food, we’ll never have a productive a day in our lives.

We came to Pagosa Springs on this lazy Sunday afternoon with plans to run errands, but decide mid-productivity that we can’t wait another second to eat our (now very late) lunch. Since we have yet to try Riff Raff Brewing Co.’s new restaurant, just down the road from its original location, we decide it is time to change that.

It’s a near perfect day weather-wise for late fall, and we opt for seats on the outdoor patio, with a scenic view of the river, and instantly begin breezing through the drink menu. Plenty of margarita recipes, bulldogs, sangrias, and, course, beer – Riff Raff on the Rio has about anything you could want for your day drinking needs. Aside from the margaritas, we order a couple flights of beer, all of which are quickly drained – the Stepchild American Red and Man’s Best Friend American Kölsch being notable favorites.

Since you really can’t day drink without eating your weight in fried food, we order some of the most perfect-tasting cheese curds you will ever have the pleasure of eating. Crunchy on the outside and heavenly soft, like an angel’s cloud pillow, on the inside, and we chow down the cheese with a healthy side of chipotle aioli dipping sauce. It doesn’t get any better than this.

Our spread includes the Beer-BQ Bacon Cheeseburger, the Homesick Texan Steak Sandwich, the Jalapeño Cream Cheeseburger, and fries. OH, THE FRIES. We can’t stop shoveling those mini-fried potato sticks into our mouths, and soon enough, we got so full that we wonder if we’ll have to be rolled out of the restaurant. What a way to make an exit.

After taste testing one another’s plates, it quickly becomes clear that the Beer-BQ Bacon Cheeseburger is the real winner of this table party. With a perfect amount of grease, gooey cheese, onion ring, and crunchy bacon – the crown jewel of any burger – this cheeseburger is made to melt-in-your-mouth perfection. We all agree that we haven’t tried a burger this delicious in a long time.

Eventually, in our booze and carb-loaded bliss, we realize if we take one more taste of spirits or cram one more fry into our mouths, we are either going to explode or fall asleep at our table. It’s time to leave this riverside paradise and we hope to return again soon.


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