Is Rio Cristal Closing After 40 Years?

After 46 years, the majestic Rio Cristal in Westchester will be serving its last meal at the end of August.


I spoke to Ely Acosta, the founder’s daughter, and asked her just that, why is Rio Cristal closing?

She mentioned that her mother and brother who run the day to day operations of the restaurant had tried their best to make it work during these trying times.

Miami city officials have not made it easy on them and every other restaurant in the magic city with the flip-flopping on rules for dining in.

The Acosta family tried to hold on and almost closed in July but decided on riding it out till the end of August.

Since my friend @MiamiStadium & I broke the news of Rio Cristal’s closing I have been inundated with folks wanting to start a GoFundMe page.

I spoke to Ely about it and while she is appreciative of the support, it will not change anything.

They are closing.


Ely Acosta will be buying out her mother and brother.

She will be the sole owner of the landmark.

The decision was made at the end of last week and just went public.

Rio Cristal - Westchester, Florida
Rio Cristal


Rio Cristal [link] served its first Palomilla Steak in its landmark Westchester restaurant back in 1974.

Pepe Acosta founded Rio Cristal a couple of years after he sold his Little Havana restaurant, Lila’s.

The famous papita smothered steak was born at his original Lila’s restaurant in New York.

Rio Cristal will be best remembered for the aforementioned #51 Super Rio Cristal Steak with a mound of thick julienne fries.


I thought that I took the news of the original Morro Castle [link] closing in 2017 relatively well but this one just killed me.

I’m not so sure that the community will be able to get over this.

You have until Monday, August 31st to enjoy this Miami icon.


Rio Cristal #51 Bistec
Rio Cristal #51 Bistec

36 thoughts on “Is Rio Cristal Closing After 40 Years?”

  1. Ely great news we need to support you to continue the tradition
    Thank you
    Miami we need to keep this place open


    …PLEASE …PLEASE … Write a recipe book… With all the history… And its workers… Lots of pictures

    … You will be so greatly missed… I pray you reopen … Either way all of my family will support you and each one of us would purchase a recipe book … Remembering the legacy of RIO CRYSTAL Miami

    … What a blessing… Income for this restaurant was… Not just the food… But the employees as well

    … Thank you for trying to stick it out… Praying you find a remedy and be able to re-open

  3. ¡No cierren, por favor! Rio Cristal es histórico en nuestra familia. Siempre nos atendió Olguita y la señora de la caja para cobrar. Siempre sonriendo, siempre cariñosos todos. Apliquen para un préstamo a los bancos o al gobierno que está ayudando a los negocios por la pandemia Covid. Ustedes son personas de negocio re-que-te probados y comprobados por los varios restaurantes de un gran éxito sostenido por muchos años. La Pandemia es creada y se va a ir después de las elecciones. Traten de sobrevivir para cuando pronto todo se normalice. Iremos a comernos el bistec con papitas y el flan además de un cortadito. NO CIERREN que lo mejor está por venir… the best is yet to come! Nos vemos pronto….

  4. Cierto Hermano a este restaurant voy desde que llegue a Miami es muy familiar la mayoria son Familia yo siempre digo si quieres comer con el sabor de casa ven, mi favorito el Biste empanizado con el sabor unico lo tapan con papitas asadas hechas en casa y un arroz blanco delicioso y los frijoles negros el dueño venis tadas las mañanas a darle el sabor con ajii cachucha y aceite de Oliva mas su secreto que se lo dejo al hijo al morir y si no te comes de postre un Flan Rio Cristal es como si no huvieras ido, mis dos hijas nacierron en este pais y son fans a este restaurant. Mi hija chiquita me mando ayer el mensage y me a dejado con una tristeza increible todavia no lo creo. Todos en el restaurant son mayores de edad y te tratan con un Amor como en familia y este cierre es por la crisis de la hijepita pandemia. Que año Tan dificil. Si tuviera poder o mucho dinero que tambien es Poder Prohibiera que Cierren. Voy a trstar de ir a comer un dia si y uno No o todos los Dias hasta el 31 de Agosto que es el ultimo Dia. Los Invito. QUIEN PUDIERA HACER ALGO. POR FAVOR.

  5. Please, please open again!!
    I have been going there since it opened and ever time my Kenosha family come down to Miami we take them there.
    Please try to reopen some time. Nobody makes those french fries like they do!’ My favorite!!!
    I’m so sad, mad and disappointed!! Please Covid leave us soon so maybe they can reopen!

  6. Been going there for years. The servers have also been there for years. Sad for them and the customers. Great food. We will miss you. Thanks for the memories ☕️

  7. Wowwwww TERRIBLY SADDENED BY THIS NEWS, I have been going there for years, and have taken my children as well. That big palomilla steak with tostones wowwww THE BOMB. I will truly miss them & their wonderful service, you were always treated like family. I truly wish them all the best. So sad to see them go HONESTLY.

  8. This is so sad!!! I was taken their by my parents and now I take my girls. jesus puts in my daughters order right before we even sit. This is real sad

    • Sorry, my man but the location on 7th Street did close. The one from Hialeah is indeed the same family, but the founder of both locations was Alberto Villalobos, who has since passed.

  9. This place was a favorite place for our family. My husband I have moved away. But we go down to see our children and grand children we try to go to this restaurant. I love the food

  10. I am heartbroken to hear about the closing of your families restaurant. I’ve been going there since early 70s when I bought my first house in Village Green down Bird Road in 1971. We moved to California in 1988 but we visit Miami 2-3 times yearly and I always go to Rio Cristal for the #51. My visits to Miami won’t be the same with going to your restaurant.

    Frederick D. Rauch

  11. This is my grandfather’s (Pepe) restaurant. I practically grew up there along with my dad and other family members.

    Yes, they made delicious steaks smothered in fries. But, my favorite were stuffed peppers. Too bad they stopped making them over 10 years ago. I’m vegan now, so I don’t miss the steak.

    I will treasure my family memories at this restaurant. It was a family affair. I had a great childhood. Sorry to see it go.

    I will wish for a great retirement for my dad and grandmother.


  12. My family moved to sw 102 ave and 32nd at in 1971.i van been going to Rio Papita since and have weaned my kids on it along with Frankie’s and Arbetters. What a shame.

  13. My first Lila’s famous steak was in NY back in 196…before they came to Miami, beautiful family and delicious food.

  14. Extremely sad! I used to go when pregnant with my daughter and she is 43! I goxat least twice a month! I will miss them terribly!

  15. The Flan!!!?? What about the delicious, creamy, sweet top of the line dessert, the Flan?? Heaven at the end of a great meal……;

  16. I was taken there by my parents in early 70’s, I have taken my children & grand children there many times to enjoy great home style Cuban cooking. Obviously the best steak and fries anywhere, you will be missed. Thanks for all the good times.
    Our best to all the staff,
    From Ocala

  17. This is heartbreaking!!!! This is where my family & I have celebrated success & soothed our broken hearts my whole life. This is devastating.

  18. This is awful news! Rio Crystal has been a huge part of my family and my life. It has part of so many of my families celebrations and just times to come together. We will no longer be the same once they close their doors

  19. We lived in Miami 35 yrs and enjoyed the food at Rio Crystal many, many times. The best Cuban food ever. So sad to see it close. I wish all the wait staff well.

  20. I definitely have to go Rio Cristal one more time, haven’t been in years. 100% ordering the #51. French dressing on everything!!!

  21. We are devastated to say the least. True Cuban food cannot be duplicated against the menu at this iconic restaurant. Knowing we will never again have the taste fill cuisine and excellent service from our favorite waiter Jesus makes our hearts break. Broken hearted in GA


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