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Bajio, Cafe Rio, or Costa Vida?

It is time for the showdown.  Which one is best: Bajio, Cafe Rio, or Costa Vida?  Or is it (as was my opinion) that they are all exactly the same?

I decided to do a taste test.  Six people participated.  Three were salad testers and three were burrito testers.  None of the people who participated have any food judging experience although a couple of them have competed in cooking contests and have a couple of first place finishes to their name.   Each couple went to a different restaurant and picked up a Sweet Pork Salad and an Steak Burrito to go.  We ordered each salad with black beans and their creamy green dressing (whatever they happened to call it).  The steak burritos were ordered enchilada style with black beans. Then we all met at a central location and judged each dish on the following:

Value Score = Weight (oz)/Cost($)
Overall Appeal (visual appeal, aroma, garnish)
Recipe (Cooking, ingredient combination, too moist or dry)
Taste (Flavor combination, Seasoning, Texture)

This test was conducted on a Friday evening at about 6:30 pm.
Bajio's in Syracuse Utah.  There was not a line at Bajio's.  The place was almost empty.  
Cafe Rio in Layton Utah. The line at Cafe Rio was 4 rows deep but the line moved quickly.  The dining room was full.
Costa Vida in Layton Utah.  The line at Costa Vida had about 4 people in it, but they had a bit slower service than Cafe Rio.  The dining room was about 1/3 full.

Here are pictures of each entree and the judges comments:

Bajio Ensalada with Sweet Pork

Weight = 20.3 oz
Cost = $8.49
Judge's Comments:
- Meat Dry
- Not much flavor
- Tortilla hard
- Meat dry
- Less flavor
- Veggies not as fresh
- No flavor
- Very little meat

Cafe Rio Salad with Pork Barbacoa

Weight = 28 oz
Cost = $7.75
Judge's Comments:
- Best pork
- More meat
- Bigger pieces
- Best Tortilla
- Best presentation
- Best pork
- Less meat (note: meat must not have been divided equally)
- More salty
- Spicier

Costa Vida Sweet Pork Salad

Weight = 24 oz
Cost = $6.99
Judge's Comments:
- Best tortilla
- Best meat, moist
- Best dressing
- Tortilla fluffy (best)
- Better dressing than the others
- Best dressing


Bajio Classico Burrito with Smoked Beef

Weight = 30 oz (Note, they include rice and beans to the side as well as guacamole and sour cream)
Cost = $8.49
Judge's Comments:
- Rice was dry
- Meat was dry
- Very bland
- Dry
- OK flavor
- Steak a bit dry

Cafe Rio Fire Grilled Steak Burrito Enchilada Style

Weight = 25 oz
Cost = $7.50 + .95 to get enchilada style
Judge's Comments:
- Moist rice
- Large chunks of meat
- Spicy, but not hot
- Chili powder flavor
- Well cooked
- Good ingredient combination
- Good Flavor
- Moist and mixed together

Costa Vida Grilled Steak Burrito Enchilada Sauce.

Weight = 25 oz
Cost = $7.49
Judge's Comments:
- Meat moist but chewy
- Rice moist
- Good flavor
- Meat chewy
- More cheese than the others
- Meat a little tough, but moist
- OK flavor, and good texure

Overall Comments:

And the winner is . . .

Cafe Rio came in first with a score of 16 points on the Burrito and 16 points on the Salad.
Costa Vida came in second with a score of 15 points on the burrito and 15.5 points on the salad.
Bajio came in last place with a score of 14 on the burrito and 10 on the salad.

My thoughts:
Almost all of the judges commented that  it was hard to distinguish between Cafe Rio and Costa Vida.  Bajio is a bit of a better value if you want the extras like enchilada style, guacamole and sour cream.  The other two places charge extra for these items.  If you just want the basics, Costa Vida is slightly less expensive.  Cafe Rio and Costa Vida are so close in price, value, and taste that either place you select would be a winner.


  1. Bajios was so amazing!! Maybe you juist didn't put the right ingredients in. Also it might have just been the bajios where you ate at. Some are different. Bajios also has more than two dressings to choose from, so I disagree with this article. No offense, but I have tried Costa Vida and hated the dressings.

  2. I miss Bajios sooo much!!!!!! =(

  3. Bajio's Green Chile Chicken Salad is the most delicious salad out there. If Bajio is leaving, please learn to make this salad at Cafe Rio or Costa Vida. So sad Bajio is slowly disappearing.


  5. Cafe Rio and Costa Vida are my two favorite places to eat. I love them both. I have never tried this Bajio place, probaly because there is not one in Arizona, but these places are the best place to find some good food!

  6. I jizzed in my pant!!!!!!

  7. Café Rio is the best!

  8. I think that Cafe Rio's Tomatillo dressing kicks Costa Vida's vinegar dressing right in the kiester.

  9. I also jizzed in my pant!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. COSTA VIDA 4 life - Love Zach R.


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