Cafe Rio Sweet Pork is super flavorful and easy to make at home. It’s perfect for eating out at home and recreating our favorite pork salads, burritos and tacos since we don’t live anywhere near a Cafe Rio!
I don’t know what it is about Utah but one of the things I miss the most from the many years we lived there during college and law school is all the yummy food! I’ve already posted about our favorite Chicken Tikka Masala from Bombay House in Provo, the awesome Roasted Red Pepper Sauce from the BYU institution of Brick Oven, and the Sweet & Sticky Hot Dog Sauce from J Dawgs, which started just south of BYU campus. But the other place we often wish we could eat at when we aren’t in Utah is Cafe Rio! When are they coming to the Bay Area?!
Paul always orders their grilled steak burrito, enchilada style. But my favorite thing on the menu are their Cafe Rio Sweet Pork Salads! They are so delicious! They have a fresh tortilla sprinkled with a Mexican cheese blend, then pile it with cilantro lime rice, black beans, and a whole lotta this sweet, saucy shredded pork, before piling the lettuce up high and garnishing with pico de gallo, the best guacamole ever, crispy tortilla strips, cilantro, cotija cheese and lime wedges. Then it’s served with a tangy and slightly spicy creamy cilantro tomatillo ranch dressing. It’s amazing.
It’s also kind of a lot of work to do at home when you are pulling together all of the components. Not hard work mind – the pork, rice and beans and all pretty hands off once you get them cooking – but it can feel like it for a weeknight, so I tend to make these on the weekend, especially if we invite friends over because everybody always wants to bring something and it’s easy to ask them to some of the salad components. It’s really easy to double the recipe as well if you end up with a larger pork shoulder butt roast and you can do these for a party.
Now, you don’t REALLY have to marinade the pork roast before cooking if you forget or just don’t want to bother. It will still turn out just fine, especially since you are cooking the meat for a long time in the marinade itself. But I feel like it maybe helps tenderize the meat just a bit more to have that extra time in the fridge in the marinade before cooking it low and slow for hours in the crock pot, so I usually just go ahead and do it.
- 2-3 pounds pork shoulder butt roast
- 2 cans Coca-Cola (not diet), divided
- 1 cup brown sugar, divided
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilies
- 1 (10 ounce) can red enchilada sauce
In a large, heavy duty Ziploc bag, combine the pork roast with one can of Coke and 1/4 cup of the brown sugar. Seal tightly and marinade in the refrigerator anywhere from 2 hours to overnight.
Once the pork roast has had a chance to marinate for at least 2 hours, transfer the pork, along with the marinade, to a crock pot. Add the water and sprinkle the salt, garlic powder, pepper and chili powder over the pork roast. Cover and cook for 3 to 4 hours on high (or 6 to 8 hours on low), until the pork is tender enough to be easily shredded with a fork.
While the pork cooks, combine the remaining can of Coke and the remaining 3/4 cup of brown sugar in a blender, along with the can of diced green chilies and red enchilada sauce. Blend until smooth, then set aside.
Remove the pork from the crock pot and discard the cooking liquid. Shred the pork, removing any fat, and return it to the crock pot, along with the enchilada sauce mixture. Cover and cook for 1 to 2 hours on low, then check seasoning to see if more salt is needed. Serve in salads, burritos or tacos!
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