There are a lot of different Cafe Rio “copycat” recipes out there on the interwebs.  So I did a little lot of looking around to find the most common, most highly rated, or just plain best looking versions of our favourite Cafe Rio dishes.  If you haven’t had Cafe Rio, make sure you hit one up if you’re ever near one! In my opinion, the best thing is a Sweet Pork Salad with black beans and lime cilantro rice.  The Sweet Pork Burrito with medium sauce and black beans takes a close second.  With the recipes below, you can makes either!  If making your own tortillas seems like overkill, I recommend at least buying uncooked ones and cooking them in a skillet before you put your food together :)

Sweet Pork Barbacoa

  • 5-6 lbs pork ribs or pork roast
  • 1L coke or Dr. Pepper (not diet! We tried both coke and DP, and I can’t tell the difference. You don’t use all of it, so cans work too, but liters are usually cheaper)
  • 1c brown sugar
  • 1/2c white sugar
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 7oz can chilies in adobo sauce
  • 6oz red enchilada sauce (I used medium)
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
Put the pork, 1/2c of the brown sugar, 2c pop, and enough water to cover the pork halfway in a crockpot and cook on low overnight. In the morning, drain the liquid, and trim and shred the pork.
Remove the chilies from the adobo sauce. Rinse with some pop to get all of the sauce off.  Discard the chilies and combine the sauce with the rest of the sugar, garlic, enchilada sauce, spices, pork, and enough pop to mostly cover the meat.  Cook on low for several more hours (at least long enough to finish cooking, but the longer you cook it the more tender the meat is.  We just leave it in the pot until church is over/the rest of the food is ready :)  If it seems too watery, cook for 30 minutes uncovered to evaporate some liquid.  Serve with a slotted spoon.
Note: This works with chicken too, but you don’t need to marinade it! Just cook the chicken with the 1/2c brown sugar, pop, and water for a few hours, and then drain/shred/cook with the other ingredients for an hour or two. 

Cilantro Lime Rice
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 15oz chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1T lime juice
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2T fresh chopped cilantro
  • 1/4t cumin
Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan.  Cook garlic slightly.  Add rice, 1t lime juice, broth, and water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat.  Cook on low for 15-20 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Combine 1T lime juice, sugar, cilantro, and cumin and pur over cooked rice, fluffing with a fork.
Cilantro Black Beans
  • 1tsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4c minced onion
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 1/4c tomato juice
  • 1T fresh chopped cilantro
Heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Cook onion, garlic, and cumin.  Add remaining ingredients. Cook on low until heated through.
Creamy Tomatillo Dressing
  • 1 packet traditional ranch dressing mix
  • 1c mayo
  • 1c buttermilk
  • 2 tomatillos, husked and minced
  • 2T fresh cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1T lime juice
  • 1T onion
  • 1/8t chili powder
Combine all ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use. 
Tortillas
  • 3c flour
  • 2t baking powder
  • 1t salt
  • 4T shortening
  • about 1 1/4c warm water
Mix dry ingredients.  Cut in the fat.  Add water gradually until dough is soft but not sticky.  Knead for several minutes. Break into 8 equal sized balls.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit about 10 minutes.  Roll very thin (about as thin as you can get it!) and cook on both sides in a cast iron skillet on medium high heat.
Serve with chopped lettuce, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, shredded cheese, or whatever else you want.  

This is the only picture I have in Cafe Rio.  Baines and I were having a moment after the Holi festival back in 2012. 

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