Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cafe Rio Pork Salad

So any of you who have spent any time in UT, AZ, or Las Vegas have probably heard of Cafe Rio. For those of you not familiar with it, Café Rio is a Mexican-inspired restaurant that opened in St George, UT in the late 1990’s. I didn’t discover it until the early 2000’s after it migrated north to the Salt Lake area. At that time, I almost always got chicken burritos at Baja Fresh/La Salsa-type places, which is what I thought this was. It was ok, but nothing great- there was much better food in LA. Then I was informed that the ONLY thing to get there was the pork salad. So I tried it- it’s marinated, shredded pork on a homemade tortilla with rice, beans, lettuce, cheese, cilantro, lime, guacamole, tortilla strips, cotija (which I always omit- ick), and just about the yummiest dressing EVER. It’s addicting, as evidenced by Café Rio’s HUGE popularity and rapid expansion (as well as imitators!). I got this recipe from a swap at my church and it’s the closest I’ve had to the real thing.

Cafe Rio Shredded Pork

2 lbs pork (I use pork roast)
16 oz. bottle of chunky salsa (pureed until smooth)
1 can Coke
2 cups brown sugar

Place pork in crock pot and fill it 1/2 way up the pork with water. Cook on high for 5 hours. Drain off water. Cut pork in thirds. Mix together sauce ingredients and put on top of pork. Cook an additional 3 hours on high. Shred pork with forks. Keep on low until ready to serve.

Cafe Rio Creamy Tomatillo Dressing

1 package Hidden Valley Ranch
1 cup mayo
1 cup cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3-5 tomatillos - peel off paper, chop
1/3 - 1/2 cups buttermilk, to consistency you want (I never need this)
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)

Put in blender and mix.

For serving:
Warm tortillas (homemade, or we like the fresh ones from Costco)
Shredded romaine lettuce
Lime-cilantro rice
Black Beans (or pinto, if you prefer)
Shredded Mexican-blend cheese
Sour cream

Pile it up, drizzle with lots of dressing and enjoy!

(I didn't have a pic from when I've made it so I borrowed this one)


  1. mmmm... cafe rio pork salads are my very favorite :)

    I came across your blog as I was recipe searching.

  2. This salad sounds fantastic! Love the dressing!

  3. Coming from Utah, I'm totally addicted to these salads. Something about combination of hot sweet pork, the crispy vegetables and the creamy ranch totally hooked me. I've never recovered. Not that I want to. ;)