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Rico’s Mexican Food opens in Citrus Heights shopping center

A plate of carne asada with sides of salad, rice and beans, is shown at Rico’s Mexican Food, which opened in the Grand Oaks Shopping Center in Citrus Heights last month. // CH Sentinel

Updated 4:52 p.m., Feb. 11–
By Thomas J. Sullivan–Authentic, flavorful, homemade Mexican food. You’ll find it at Rico’s, which celebrated its grand opening last week at 7967 Auburn Blvd. in Citrus Heights.

Francisco and Norma Juarez owned Rico’s on East Sierra Avenue in Portola, California for over 10 years before opening their second location here. The small storefront in the Grand Oaks Shopping Center was previously home to Ben’s Huli Huli Hawaiian Chicken, and most recently a brief stint by Guacamole Grill.

Rico’s contemporary menu features an affordably-priced variety of house specialties, including popular street tacos, fajitas, burritos, tamales and other hearty favorites which are certain to please customers of all preferences. The business name is taken from Spanish for “It’s Delicious!”

The owners of the new restaurant showcase their personal favorite recipes from the greater Colima region of Mexico. Colima is a small state in Western Mexico on the central Pacific coast and shares its borders with the states of Jalisco and Michoacán.

Francisco and Norma Juarez

“We prefer to purchase our meats and vegetables locally, rather than buying ingredients in bulk, as some restaurants do,” Francisco said. His wife Norma oversees the cooking to ensure the right blend of authentic Mexican seasonings are used for each meal customers are served. She is especially proud of her mole sauce, seasoned with traditional Mexican chocolate — prepared with an assortment of spices for a very distinctive and rich flavor.

Their Portola restaurant has drawn rave Yelp reviews, and word about their new Citrus Heights location, which had its soft opening three weeks ago, is catching on. Their task ahead is keeping their kitchen staff to cook to the same preparation standards they have always held true, Francisco said.

Hearty bowls of pozole, menudo and albondigas soup are made fresh daily. Customers can choose between a half bowl for $6.50, or a full bowl for $9.50.

Four breakfast entrees are offered at $9.25, each served with rice, beans and a side of flour or corn tortillas. Eggs, served in three styles – ranchero, a la Mexicana, or with chorizo are priced at $9.25. Chilaquiles, two eggs scrambled with corn tortillas and spice or medium green or red sauce, are also $9.25.

“We like to cook our own recipes,” Norma said. “It’s based on the recipes we serve to our family at home.”

Customers who want to build their own burrito can start with a basic rice, beans and cheese version from $6.75, build a Super Veggie for $9.25, or opt for a fajita-style margarita version for a few dollars more. Four seafood dishes are also served, and a children’s menu includes nachos, a mini-taco, quesadillas and burritos for smaller appetites.

Popular specialty dinner plates served with rice and refried beans include three street tacos at $10.99, and steak ranchero, served with flour or corn tortillas, sliced steak and fried onions, tomatoes, cilantro, serrano peppers and homemade salsa for $13.75.

Complimentary chips and salsa are supplied with each meal. Beverages served include seven varieties of Mexican beer, soda, bottled or canned, Jarrito, sangria, horchata and iced tea.

Rico’s Mexican Food, at 7967 Auburn Blvd. in Citrus Heights, is open Monday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Orders to go and catering services are also available.

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