Copycat Cafe Rio.

When I was pregnant with The Munchkin, I craved Mexican food ALL THE TIME. We were living in Indiana, where the owners of Mexican restaurants seemed to hail from no further south than North Dakota, so when we headed west to visit family for Christmas, I gorged on as much as I could. One of my favorite places is Cafe Rio. No, not authentic Mexican, but at least they don’t try to pass off Italian tomato sauce as salsa. (I wish I were joking about that.)

Maybe we’ve been living without good Mexican — or at least a Del Taco — for too long now, but the Mexican cravings are much less frequent this time around.

Still, when Mommy needs her Cafe Rio, SHE NEEDS her Cafe Rio.

Now, like I said, it’s been awhile since we’ve eaten there, so I really couldn’t tell you how close this comes to the real thing. But the copycat J-Dawgs sauce has been such a hit among fellow former Provo-dwellers that I thought I’d put this one out there for more people to try. Tweaks from people who’ve had the real thing more recently are appreciated.

I’m lifting this almost exactly from Favorite Family Recipes. Go there to find her black bean recipe too; I didn’t have the energy to make one more component just to satisfy a craving, especially since I always order my salads with no beans anyway.

Sweet Pork Barbacoa:

  • 2 lbs. pork
  • 3 cans regular — not DietCoke (caffeine-free, of course! ;-)). Our local grocery store sells 2-liter bottles of caffeine-free cola for 98 cents! So I just do that.
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar, divided
  • sprinkle of garlic salt
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 can diced green chilies
  • 3/4 can red enchilada sauce (Old El Paso, medium)
  1. Marinate pork inside a gallon Ziploc bag with about 18 oz. of Coke & 1/4 cup of brown sugar, a few hours or overnight.
  2. Drain marinade. Place pork in the bottom of a slow cooker. Add 6 oz. of Coke & the water. Sprinkle garlic salt over the top. Cook on high 3-4 hours, until it shreds easily.
  3. Remove the pork, drain liquid in the slow cooker, & shred the pork.
  4. In a blender or food processor, blend 6 oz. Coke with the green chilies, enchilada sauce, & remaining brown sugar. Add more brown sugar &/or Coke to suit your taste & ideal consistency.
  5. Add shredded pork & sauce to slow cooker. Cook on low 2 hours.

Cilantro-Lime Rice:

  • 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • 1 can (15 oz.) chicken broth (I used low-sodium & had to add a little salt to get the taste to my liking)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro
  1. In a saucepan combine rice, butter, garlic, 1 tsp. lime juice, broth, & water; bring to a boil.
  2. Cover; simmer on low 15-20 minutes, until rice is tender. Remove from heat.
  3. In a small bowl combine last 3 ingredients. Fold into rice as you fluff the rice.

Tomatillo Ranch:

  • 1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch mix (NOT Buttermilk)
  • 1 cup mayo
  • 1 cup buttermilk (make your own by pouring 1 Tbsp. lemon juice or vinegar into the bottom of a measuring cup, then filling it up the rest of the way to the 1-cup line, then let it sit for a few minutes to curdle)
  • 2 tomatillos, husk removed, diced
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic
  • juice of 1 lime (2 Tbsp. if you’re using bottled like me)
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded, chopped
  1. Throw everything in the blender & blend it. Done.

Make your salad:

  1. If desired, place a tortilla in the bottom of your dish, sprinkle with cheese, & place in the oven for a few minutes to let it melt.
  2. Layer beans (if using), meat, rice, & lettuce. Top with dressing, guac, a sprinkle of cheese, & maybe some tortilla strips.
  3. Drool.
  4. Savor.

works for me wednesday at we are that family

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1 Comment

Filed under Recipes

One response to “Copycat Cafe Rio.

  1. I will be making this as soon as roast is on sale around here! Thanks!! bellesbazaar-heather.blogspot.com

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