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How To Make A Sweet Pork Salad (à la Cafe Rio)

Cafe Rio Pork Salad

There are only so many lunch options in our small town, but one of our favorite choices is Cafe Rio. (If you’ve never heard of Cafe Rio, it’s a fast casual Mexican place, not unlike Chipotle.) More often than not, most of us will end up ordering one of their salads, which my oldest son refers to as “meat salads.”

It’s a pretty fitting name, considering these salads are more like a deconstructed burrito with lettuce and dressing. But regardless of what they should be called, the most important thing is that they are delicious! Today I’m sharing a few recipes that will get you started on assembling the best “meat salad” you’ve ever tasted. :-)

Cafe Rio Pork Salad

Slow Cooker Sweet Pork

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds pork butt/shoulder
  • (2) 12oz cans Coca Cola (NOT diet)
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ½ tsp garlic salt
  • ¼ cup water
  • (1) 4oz can diced green chiles
  • 10 oz enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup brown sugar

Cafe Rio Pork Salad

Directions:

Put the pork in a resealable bag, and pour in one of the cans of Coke along with the ½ cup brown sugar. Let the meat marinate in the cola and sugar mixture for a few hours or overnight.

Cafe Rio Pork Salad

Drain the marinade off and put your pork into your crockpot. Add half of the 2nd can of Coke, along with the water and garlic salt, and cook on high for about 3-4 hours.

Remove pork from the crock pot, drain off the liquid, and shred the pork. Return the pork to your crockpot.

Cafe Rio Pork Salad

In a bowl or blender, combine the remainder of the 2nd can of Coke with the green chiles, enchilada sauce, and brown sugar. Mix well.

Cafe Rio Pork Salad

Put shredded pork back in the crock pot, then pour the soda/sauce mixture over the top. Let the pork and sauce cook until warmed through.

Cafe Rio Pork Salad

Cilantro Lime Rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 Tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp + 1 Tbsp lime juice, divided
  • 2 cups water (or use chicken broth and omit bouillon)
  • 2 bouillon cubes (or 2 tsp chicken bouillon granules)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped

Cafe Rio Pork Salad

Directions:

In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the rice, butter, garlic, 1 tsp of lime juice, and chicken broth (or water and bouillon.) Bring to a boil.

Cover the saucepan and cook on low for 15 minutes, until the rice is tender. Remove from heat.

Cafe Rio Pork Salad

In a small bowl, combine the remaining tablespoon of lime juice, the sugar, and the chopped cilantro.

Cafe Rio Pork Salad

Pour the mixture over your cooked rice, mixing as you fluff the rice.

Cafe Rio Pork Salad

Creamy Tomatillo Dressing

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch salad dressing mix (or make your own!)
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2-3 tomatillos, husk removed
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, stems removed
  • 1 heaping tsp minced garlic
  • juice of 1-2 limes
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded

Cafe Rio Pork Salad

Directions:

Throw it all in the blender and BLEND!

Cafe Rio Pork Salad

Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.

Cafe Rio Pork Salad

How To Make A Cafe Rio-Style Salad

Making a Cafe Rio-style pork salad is as easy as building up a pile of deliciousness. Here’s the traditional order of ingredients, starting from the bottom:

1. Flour tortilla
2. Black beans
3. Cilantro Lime Rice (see above)
4. Sweet Pork (see above)
5. Chopped romaine lettuce
6. Pico de gallo
7. Creamy Tomatillo Dressing (see above)

Cafe Rio Pork Salad

Cafe Rio Pork Salad

Those are the main elements to the salad, but if you really want to take things to the next level, try any (or all!) of these additional fixings:

  • Tortilla chip strips
  • Cotija cheese
  • Guacamole
  • Fresh cilantro
  • Squeeze of fresh lime juice

Cafe Rio Pork Salad

Enjoy! :-)


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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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  • Thanks for posting. We already had this recipe from my Sister. I’ve been to Cafe Rio before, but it’s been a long time. We go there occasionally when visiting family in Utah. We do have Chipotle where we live which is a lot like Cafe Rio. Just not as fancy. One of our favorite places to get takeout from. We usually get the Burrito bowls. There big enough to share.

  • Yum. I couldn’t have that much sweet pork around without eating too much of it so I’ll have to wait till I get home to Utah for one of these salads. My favorite thing at Cafe Rio are the big, soft, homemade flour tortillas hot off the camal….heavenly.

  • I would love to make this, but I can’t handle all that sweetness. By Googling it, I found out we can buy cola flavor extract — who knew? I may get some of the flavoring and use the garlic, chili peppers, and an unsweetened enchilada sauce and see what happens. It will taste different, I know, but it still sounds good! I’ve always loved Cilantro Lime Rice, and this recipe sounds good and easy. And the Dressing sounds heavenly!

  • Wow, this sounded great just reading the ingredients, but it was even better than I had imagined. The whole family raved about it. I can’t stop thinking about it! I can hardly wait till we have the leftovers tonight. Thanks so much for sharing it with us.

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