Vegan at Cafe Rio – The Top Vegan Choices

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Cafe Rio is a favorite in the west of the United States and was founded by Steve and Patricia Stanley in St. George, Utah, in 1997. Serving up dishes inspired by Northern Mexico, Southern Texas, and New Mexico, the chain started out as a family-run restaurant before branching out in 2004 and now has a portfolio of just under 150 restaurants. Priding itself on fresh ingredients, it’s most well-known for its sweet pork barbacoa. Although this doesn’t sound too vegan-friendly, the chain has a reasonable selection of plant-based plates, and at Cafe Rio, you can enjoy a tostada, burrito, taco, or bowl of nachos without having to compromise too much. At Vegan Unlocked, with our full menu, secret menu, and editor’s picks, whether you’re looking to grab a salad or try something a little spicy. 

The Vegan Unlocked Research Team combed through all the vegan options on the Cafe Rio menu and found a couple of delectable custom creations and five delightful on-menu items that will curb your hunger and not your enthusiasm. 

Cafe Rio scores 2.0 out of 5 stars with few vegan options. So this means while there aren’t a ton of options up for grabs, you’ll still be able to satisfy your hunger when visiting this dining establishment.

This score is calculated based on the number of vegan offerings on Cafe Rio menu “as is” or with an easy substitution, a restaurant vegan customizability score and finally, the number of vegan options vs non-vegan options. Learn more about Vegan Unlocked Ratings.

Secret Menu

Mexican cuisine is well-known for being a more vegan-friendly choice for those following a plant-based lifestyle. Bountiful beans, glorious guacamole, spicy, flavorful salsas, it’s got it all. So, that means when dining out at a Mexican-inspired restaurant like Cafe Rio, you’ll know there’s going to be something delicious for you to enjoy. However, at Vegan Unlocked, we upped the ante and sent in our team of vegan researchers to find even more lip-smacking custom creations that you can take inspiration from. They came up with the goods with two delightful inventions. And don’t worry, custom creations don’t have to be totally out there; sometimes, they just require a little thinking outside of the box, like adding some extra spice or texture. 

Not in the mood to try out one of our custom creations? Scroll on to find the Cafe Rio vegan menu items and our editors’ top picks just below this section.

Extra Spicy Double Bean Burrito

Order the Vegetarian Burrito without sauce or cheese, then load it with pinto and black beans, guacamole, salsa, pico de gallo, and jalapenos to give the burrito a little zing and crunch.

Loaded chips 

There’s nothing quite like loaded chips to hit the spot when you fancy something a little bit naughty. To order this, get the chips and salsa, and request the addition of guacamole, jalapenos and pico de gallo.

All the Vegan Options at Cafe Rio


  • Vegetarian Burrito: To enjoy this plant-based deliciousness, make sure to order it without the sauce, or cheese and sub in some Salsa Fresca. 
  • Vegetarian Salad with Salsa Fresca for Dressing: Packed with beans, guacamole, and Salsa Fresca, ordered without cheese, it’s completely vegan-friendly. Why not throw on some chip strips, too?
  • Vegetarian Tostada with Salsa Fresca for Dressing: Load all of your favorites on top of this tostada, and order it without cheese to make it packed full of plant-based power. 
  • Vegetarian Taco: With a delightful crunch, pack this taco full of veggies, beans and salsa and remove the cheese to make it vegan.
  • Vegetarian Nachos: Loaded nachos are an American favorite, and when ordered without cheese or sour cream, they’re a vegan-friendly option, too. 


  • Chips and salsa
  • Chips and guacamole

Sauces, Add Ons, Toppings

  • Flour tortillas
  • Wheat tortillas
  • Vegetarian protein
  • Pinto beans
  • Black beans
  • Jalapenos
  • Salsa Fresca
  • Guacamole
  • Corn tortillas
  • Crunchy corn tortilla
  • Pico de gallo
  • Chips strips
  • Lime wedges
  • Cilantro

Editor’s Picks: What Are the Top Vegan Meals at Cafe Rio?

Beans are often a staple in plant-based diets, and for good reason, they’re nutritionally dense and deliciously filling. It’s no wonder why so many vegans love them, then. For those bonkers for beans, order the Extra Spicy Double Bean Burrito.

While there are an array of delicious carb-based offerings at Cafe Rio, that’s not always what you fancy. If you’re in the mood for something fresh and less dense, order the Vegetarian Salad with Salsa Fresca for Dressing, it’s the best light bite on the menu

There’s something so decadent about loaded chips, and they’re enjoyable all year round, whether you’re looking for a winter comfort or a summer snack. They’re our pick for the best naughty treat on the menu.

Note: Vegan Unlocked is a tool dedicated to helping people find plant-based options. We are not an allergen resource, and want to encourage our friends with allergies to proceed with caution. We cannot control and don’t always know when cross contamination takes place. See the Cafe Rio allergen menu here. As far as cross-contamination of vegan foods with animal products, this is completely up to your comfort level as an individual. Read our stance on cross contamination.

Frequently Asked Cafe Rio Questions

Is Cafe Rio Rice Vegan?

No, unfortunately, according to the company’s allergen page, its lime rice contains dairy and is not vegan-friendly.

Are Cafe Rio Tortillas Vegan?

Cafe Rio corn tortillas are indeed vegan, however, when ordering the other tortillas on the menu, request that they are not prepared with margarine or butter (the former also contains dairy).

Does Cafe Rio Have Vegan Cheese?

For the time being, at least, Cafe Rio does not offer vegan cheese.

You can find out more information on Cafe Rio by visiting their website here.

Planning on visiting Cafe Rio soon?

Be sure to tag Vegan Unlocked and share your vegan meal or custom creation to be entered into our monthly giveaway!

The Cafe Rio Vegan Menu Was Brought to You by…

Madaline Dunn

Madaline is a vegan journalist, writer, and editor specializing in sustainability, current affairs, and social justice and the ways in which they intersect. Her work focuses on innovation and progress, prioritizing rigorous investigation. When she’s not writing, she’s in the kitchen experimenting with new plant-based recipes, reading a good book, or thinking about her next cup of coffee.

Cristina Garrido

Cristina is a vegan cook and recipe developer. She’s worked in several vegan kitchens, as a collaborator for different cooking blogs and now works as a consultant helping restaurants interested in making their menus more vegan-friendly. She’s passionate about cultural foods and culinary innovations. Her non-food related interests include thrifting, sustainability and exploring her new adoptive country, Portugal.

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