Combine the words “cocktail” and “dinner,” and you’re sure to catch our attention. So its no surprise we thoroughly enjoyed Urban Rio‘s recent monthly cocktail dinner. We ate and drank our way through a Texas-themed menu and, in a surprising turn of events, discovered we may like whiskey after all! Not to mention, were reminded to visit the welcoming restaurants of the suburbs that we grew up loving. Although our roots are in the ‘burbs, we’ve found ourselves increasingly sticking to the Dallas “bubble” we currently live in. Anyone familiar with the DFW area understands the concept of that “bubble” and the desire to avoid the construction zones and traffic that fence you in. Unfortunately, becoming too comfortable with our little radius left us missing the impressive (and rapidly growing) restaurant scene of the Dallas suburbs.
Urban Rio is situated in the adorable and historic downtown Plano area and was the perfect setting for a multi-course dinner focused on the flavors and spirits of the Lone Star State. Surrounded by groups of chatty friends at communal tables and double dates in cozy booths, it was clear we were the few new faces in the crowd. The monthly cocktail dinners, each with a special theme, attract regulars, and we can see why they keep coming back.For $35, Urban Rio delivers five courses paired with five cocktails. They don’t skimp on the portions either – so pace yourself, both booze and food-wise. Each dish is presented to the table with its spirited companion and explained by the chef who created it. We loved the personal touch of getting to hear what inspired each bite!We obviously loved the gin and vodka cocktails, dubbed the Texas Rosemary and Dallas Dalmation respectively, but were truly surprised when we each downed the whiskey drink. For those of you who don’t know – Kelsie and I steer clear of brown liquors. We want to like them, we really do, but just can’t seem to train our taste buds. This drink may be a game changer though. It could’ve been the malbec floater that eased us into it with a familiar flavor. Coincidentally, the drink was paired with our favorite plate of the night – a venison empanada with sweet potato mash, crispy kale and roasted salsa.
At every cocktail dinner, Urban Rio sends each guest home with the evening’s menu and cocktail recipes so you can shake up your favorites as expertly as the bartenders did. Which is exactly what we did here with the Downtown Whiskey Sour:The delightful meal wrapped with a chocolate pecan tart and a Cowboy Egg Cream made with rum, Tuaca, half & half and more pecans. We loved our Texas-themed dinner at the precious Plano restaurant and are already impressed by the next few themes lined up. April’s Deep Eddy Vodka dinner has my name written aallll over it.
The friendly, laid-back ambiance combined with delicious food at an accessible price made for such a memorable night. Grab your girls or your guy (I see a couple beer dinners in the near future) and snag a reservation before the next dinner fills up!
- 1.25 oz. whiskey
- 0.75 oz. fresh lemon juice
- 0.75 oz. simple syrup (recipe to follow)
- 0.5 oz. Malbec
- Maraschino cherries for garnish
- 1 C sugar
- 1 C water
- Combine the first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Serve on the rocks in a cocktail glass, top with the Malbec floater and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
- In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil and simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Let the simple syrup completely cool before adding it to the cocktails.