Rio California is one of those I consider a step above the average. I first tried looking for a local place for empanadas. I went looking for it mistakenly at the nearby City Center area. After checking the address again, I found this small isolated area referred to Preservation Park, filled with old restored Victorian buildings from that era. Rio California is located right at the bend of Preservation Park Way by the water fountain. This area resets my mind to be a more pleasant, slow pace of yesteryear time period where things move at a slower, pleasant pace.
Overwhelmed by their busy looking menu, daily specials over the counter person's head. I refocused requesting empanadas, beef, chicken, or spinach. It was after the lunch crowd, the Spinach was sold out for the day, chose the Chicken Empanada for dine in, along with a diet soda imported from Brazil, quite good. My order was heated up, served with a small side salad with a cilantro dressing along with a salsa for the turnover. If you don't care for cilantro, let them know and they will put a balsamic vinegar dressing instead.
The filling was quite tasty, but the dough was too hard, as I prefer a light, flaky crust. The owner started in 1992 with a food cart in Berkeley, is very engaging, friendly, and people oriented. If you feel overwhelmed, ask for what they would recommend.
Food quality good, service very good, atmosphere is very quiet and pleasant (except during the lunch crowd) with dining indoors or outdoor weather permitting, pricing is very reasonable depending on what you order. If you come during their busy lunch period, it's quite hectic and noisy.
Open Monday-Friday 8:30am-3pm, credit cards accepted
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