Uniquely Baton Rouge: El Rio Grande, Baton Rouge’s oldest Mexican restaurant

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BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) – Taco man Raul Urdiales has been whipping up authentic Tex Mex dishes for the past 18 years, though El Rio Grande has been in his blood for his entire life.

“This is also my family home. I grew up upstairs… and I didn’t want to see it gone or anything else in it’s place” Urdiales said. “I could have moved across town and made more money but I decided to stick it here because it is my family home” he said.

Urdiales’ parents moved to Baton Rouge in the early 60’s, opening the restaurant along Airline Highway in 1962.

“They struggled. They had three little girls they put in private school. My dad worked on the railroad in Lake Charles; he had $1,200 dollars to make everything work… and $1,200 dollars even though it was a lot back in that day it wasn’t a lot to go around” Urdiales said.

Six decades later, the Urdiales family and the restaurant has seen it all. From celebrities the likes of John Schneider and Steve McQueen, to the transformation of the community around them.

“It’s also the people that come in here” Urdiales said. “We have relationships with them. It’s like we go out to eat with them sometimes, we go to the river it’s great. It’s not just about serving people food”.

While there are other Mexican food spots around town, even within their own family, Urdiales says there aren’t any quite as unique.

“We’re old school Mexican” Urdiales said. “I do everything just like my parents did mostly. We’re mainly south of the border, enchiladas, tamales, good home cooking Mexican food.

El Rio Grande is located at 8334 Airline Highway.

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