The Iconic Rio Cristal in Westchester, Florida

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Let’s just jump right into some Rio Cristal (9872 Bird Road) restaurant history.

History of Rio Cristal

In 1961, Jose C. Acosta, known as Pepe to his friends, opened a restaurant in New York named after his sister Lila. At this restaurant, he created his famous palomilla steak covered in a large mound of small french fries.

Three years later, he left Manhattan behind and moved to Miami. There he would reopen his restaurant Lila’s and introduce the famous steak to everyone in Little Havana.

He sold Lila’s in 1972, thinking it was time for him to retire, but he didn’t have it in him. Pepe opened another restaurant in 1974 but a smaller one this time to keep himself entertained.

He would name his new creation after the famous restaurant from the Güines in Cuba, Rio Cristal. Many families, including my own, would have their one weekly dinner outing at the now landmark restaurant in Westchester.

Pepe passed away in 2014, but his legacy lives on at Rio Cristal.

Rio Cristal Food Talk

Walking through the doors at Rio Cristal is exactly like stepping back to a time when waiters remembered you and what you liked to eat. Back then, everyone had a favorite waiter/waitress who took care of them. I don’t think much of the decor has changed in the almost half-century that it’s been open.

There’s even a great picture of the famous Super Rio Cristal Steak that would look great in my kitchen. The steak with the mound of fries is so iconic that when I ran into the late Josh Ozersky a few years back at the Burger Bash in South Beach, he was gushing about “the steak with papitas” from Rio Cristal.

I’m, of course, talking about the #39, but for us folks who live a life of excess, #51 Super Rio Cristal Steak is where it’s at. How Super is it? Scroll down and watch the video.

Your meal at Rio Cristal always ends with a cafecito and a flan. There are no ifs, ands, or buts when it comes to this. Careful consideration must be made when deciding what exactly you’re going to be eating. You do not want to miss out on this flan. In Westchester, it’s considered a crime to skip it.

And in the world of Burger Beast, it’s unacceptable if you haven’t visited Rio Cristal.

Super Rio Cristal Steak Video

courtesy of AbuelaMami

Rio Cristal Food Pictures

Specials Board
The Famous Rio Cristal Steak
Rio Cristal Menu
Buttered Bread
Pan con Bistec
Super Cheeseburger Top Shot
Super Cheeseburger
#51 Super Rio Cristal Steak w/mound of Fries


Rio Cristal will serve its last Super Rio Cristal Steak on August 31st, 2020.

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