La Feria News

Rio Grande Grill: Where Lunch Becomes an Upbeat Event

Outside wall of restaurant facing La Placita Park in Harlingen, Texas

Outside wall of restaurant facing La Placita Park in Harlingen, Texas

The Rio Grande Grill at 417 West Van Buren in Harlingen is without question the most “up beat” destination for lunch in the mid-Valley. It has become in a very short time, the prime gathering place for the “in” crowd, for business luncheons, for actors and poets, and for just good family dining.

It didn’t just happen. Daniel Wright and his wife Stefania Trimboli became owners of the already existing downtown restaurant four months ago, They brought with them their artistic flair and created an atmosphere that would become a gathering place for area devotees of the arts and good food. They are uniquely qualified for their adventures into the world of gastronomy and the arts.

A table of local businessmen enjoy a business lunch at one of the picnic tables

A table of local businessmen enjoy a business lunch at one of the picnic tables

They are both natives of the Rio Grande Valley, However, their penchant for good food and their love of the theater brought them together.

Stefania studied in Austin, Texas and received her culinary arts degree from Le Cordon Bleu in 2007. With those impressive credentials, she worked at the Ritz-Carlton in Las Vegas, Nevada, and with Chef Henry Hamor from Calesa in Harlingen, Texas. She has a mixed background of Sicilian and Mexican heritage and likes to incorporate these two cultures in her cooking. She has a passion for using fresh, seasonal local ingredients. Stefania has an adventurous spirit and a love of good food. And she likes to blend different cultures and flavors in her cooking. It is her desire to bring the flavors and cultures of different parts of the world to the Rio Grande Valley through her gourmet cooking.

Daniel serves regulars Larry and Francis Keim

Daniel serves regulars Larry and Francis Keim

Daniel Wright is also a lover of fine food and the theater. He works hard to make his family’s dreams come true. Daniel describes himself as completely self-taught and self-made. His imagination extends far and wide. We have here a natural salesman with an artistic flair who will make you a believer in no time. He especially enjoys rounding up and mixing with creative souls.

This artistic flair extends itself to this couple’s restaurant. They want it to be more than just a place to eat and run. They want theirs to be a safe, congenial gathering place for guests to congregate and be themselves and enjoy life and good food.

Speaking of food: Daniel credits their slow, traditional way of cooking his barbecue meats as the reason for the success of their Rio Grande Grill. “For me,” he said, “my way of slow, low-temperature cooking is an art form that brings back my customers time and time again. I call it the ‘Wright way.’”

Front of restaurant facing W. Van Buren St.

Front of restaurant facing W. Van Buren St.

The Wrights specialize in slow-cooked barbecue, Tex-Mex and Southwestern flavors, and all kinds of catering. Stefania is a classically-trained chef and can accommodate any request for a family event. Besides the standard barbecue and Tex-Mex cooking, Stefania can rustle up–authentic international cuisine such as: Spanish, Mexican, Asian, Italian and German dishes. Customer Tudor Uhlhorn said, “I’m still trying to find something I don’t like.”

Jane Lozano and Tina Alejandro enjoy a brief respite at one of the outdoor tables

Jane Lozano and Tina Alejandro enjoy a brief respite at one of the outdoor tables

Wright is also a strong supporter of local businesses and the work of the Chamber of Commerce. “When you support and patronize your local business people, you get an immediate return on your investment,” he said. “The money, the jobs and loyalty stay in the area.”

Stefania and Daniel invite everyone to visit them in their unique, upbeat restaurant. They are open Monday through Saturday from 11:00 am until 3:00 p.m. Enjoy your meal! Y’all! Or is that Buen Provecho! Or is that Bon Appetit? Or is that Guten Appetit? — Whatever, You will enjoy yourself!

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