Copycat Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Barbacoa Salads

Enjoy this copycat version of a Cafe Rio favorite at home with your family! It tastes just like you’re eating out!

Copycat Cafe Rio Pork Barbacoa Salads - Make this popular restaurant dish at home! Tastes just like the real thing.

Cafe Rio is one of our very favorite places to eat out. I can never decide between the burrito or the salad. And I almost always go with the salad! It’s my very favorite dish there and I try to eat it as slowly as I can so it will last longer.

This recipe includes five separate recipes for the different elements in the salad: sweet pork, cilantro lime rice, black beans, creamy tomatillo ranch dressing, and flour tortillas. Yes, that’s five recipes in one post! It’s your lucky day.

Copycat Cafe Rio Pork Barbacoa Salads - Make this popular restaurant dish at home! Tastes just like the real thing.

What’s your favorite part of this famous salad? I love the sweet pork. And that rice. The beans are amazing, too. Ok, I love the whole thing!

Copycat Cafe Rio Pork Barbacoa Salads - Make this popular restaurant dish at home! Tastes just like the real thing.

And then there’s the creamy tomatillo ranch dressing. Oh, that dressing. I could drink the stuff. I love it so much!

I hope you enjoy this meal as much as we do. It’s filling, it’s flavorful, and we love it!

Copycat Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Barbacoa Salads


    Sweet Pork Barbacoa:
  • 2-3 lb pork roast
  • 3 Tbsp salt
  • 1 (12 oz) Coke
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1 (10 oz) can enchilada sauce
  • 3 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 small can green chillies
  • Cilantro Lime Rice:
  • 2 c. uncooked long-grain white rice
  • 1 tsp. butter or margarine
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. plus 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 can (15 oz) chicken broth
  • 1 c. water
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 3 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Black Beans:
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 c. tomato juice
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Creamy Tomatillo Dressing:
  • 1 c. mayo
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro, cleaned and pulled from stems
  • 1 tomatillo, cut into chunks and paper skin removed
  • 1/4 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeds removed
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 green onion stem (all of the green part)
  • Flour Tortillas:
  • 5 c. flour
  • 1/2 c. shortening
  • 1/8 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp salt
  • 1 1/2 c. water


    Sweet Pork Barbacoa:
  1. Combine Coke and 1/4 c. brown sugar. Place pork roast in a ziploc bag and pour the Coke and brown sugar mixture over it. Allow to marinate for at least 3 hours. (Over night is best!)
  2. Remove roast from plastic bag and place in the crock pot. Pour the marinade in the crock pot and sprinkle salt over the roast. Place the lid on the crock pot and cook on high 3 1/2 – 4 hours.
  3. In a blender, combine enchilada sauce, minced garlic, green chillies, and 3/4 c. brown sugar; set aside.
  4. Remove roast from crock pot and shred; discard of liquid. Place shredded pork back in the crock pot and add enchilada sauce mixture. Stir around to mix the meat with the liquid and cook for 30 more minutes, covered. Add more salt if more flavor is needed.
  5. Cilantro Lime Rice:
  6. Combine rice, garlic, butter, 1 tsp. lime juice, chicken broth, and water; bring to a boil.
  7. Cover and cook on low 15 minutes, or until rice is tender; remove from heat.
  8. Combine remainder of lime juice, sugar, and cilantro in a small bowl. Pour over hot rice, using a fork to fluff.
  9. Black Beans:
  10. Place oil in a nonstick saute pan; add cumin and garlic. Cook until you can smell the garlic.
  11. Add beans, tomato juice, and salt. Stir beans until hot. Just before serving, stir in the cilantro.
  12. Creamy Tomatillo Dressing:
  13. Mix all ingredients together in a blender. Store in airtight container in the refrigerator. Dressing keeps for about 2 weeks.
  14. Flour Tortillas:
  15. Combine all dry ingredients; cut the shortening into the mixture. Add water and slowly mix in till smooth.
  16. Roll dough into balls the size of small oranges; use a rolling pin to flatten as thin as possible. Place on hot griddle (about 425°) and cook on each side for 2-3 minutes.

Other ingredients for this salad include:

  • grated Mexican blend cheese
  • tortilla chip strips
  • guacamole
  • salsa
  • sour cream

We love copycat restaurant recipes! For other copycat favorites, check out these two round ups…

14 of the Best Copycat Restaurant Recipes

14 Best Copycat Restaurant Recipes

16 Copycat Restaurant Recipes

16 Copycat Recipes

Copycat Cafe Rio Pork Barbacoa Salads - Make this popular restaurant dish at home! Tastes just like the real thing.


  1. says

    We’ve given up on Cafe Rio, the lines are too long because of it popularity. But we still like the food.
    Today is my wife’s birthday and since its Sunday, I will be making it at home. the pork is slow roasting in the crock pot with coke (yuck I never drink the stuff, I am Dr. Pepper dude, maybe I will try that next time). I’ll finish it up after church.That’s when the whole family arrives.
    I wonder if I should try your Texas Roadhouse copy cat rolls and my Pampered Chef Tortilla Soup to make this a real Sunday dinner

  2. Joni Kucera says

    This look delicious – can’t wait to try it! We don’t have Cafe Rio – s the tortilla to make it into a burrito or how is it served with the salad? Thanks!

    • Alli says

      Thanks so much, Joni! The tortilla goes at the bottom of the salad and then all the greens and toppings are added over it. Great question!

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