Cafe Rio’s Sweet Barbacoa Pork

Living on the east coast I go through major Cafe Rio withdrawls. Back in our Provo days John and I would sometimes do a double header: Cafe Rio then Tracy’s Peanut Butter Cup at Leatherbys. The double header always sent me into a food induced coma afterwards and I would fall asleep at my computer at school. Please Cafe Rio people, come franchise out here. You would make some major money – if not from me alone!!!

I have tried a bunch of copycat recipes to get my “fix” but this combo of Cafe Rio dishes is my favorite. You can make a lot of it ahead of time so it was great to eat right after John’s game.

Cafe Rio’s Sweet Barbacoa Pork

Yield: 12-15 servings

Ingredients

  • 7-8 lbs. boneless pork butt or shoulder (make a 3-4 lb pork roast if you are just doing your family)
  • 4 cups root beer
  • 5 (8oz) cans tomato sauce
  • 4 Tablespoons molasses or honey
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 - 3 cups brown sugar
  • pepper to taste
  • 4 teaspoons cumin

Instructions

  1. Salt and pepper the pork and cook in crock pot 8 hours or overnight on low in a little water. In the morning remove the roast from the crockpot and pull apart with fork, removing fat. Drain all the water in the crockpot. Don't overshred the pork or it will turn mushy.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the crockpot and add the shredded pork. Stir to combine. Cook another 3-4 hours in crockpot on low. Serve with a slotted spoon.
  3. Traditionally this meat is served over a salad or in a burrito.
  4. To make a Cafe Rio salad layer: tortilla (I warm mine in aluminum pans like cafe rio in the oven with cheese), cheese, Cilantro Lime Rice , Black or Pinto Beans, Pork, chopped Romaine or green leaf lettuce, sprinkle tortilla strips on top, and grated Parmesan cheese
  5. Serve with sides of: Pico de Gallo , Guacamole , fresh cilantro, fresh lime slices, drizzle with Creamy Tomatillo Dressing .

Notes

Recipe Note: The above sauce makes a ton! So if you have a 3-4 lb pork roast, half the sauce.

Source: a mix between Martha McMullin's and Sheri Denney's recipes.

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Comments

  1. Can I tell you how much I love your recipe blog. I have a friend who saw it from my blog and she made your chicken tortilla soup last night for enrichment. I will try these recipes, they are similar to what I use but I see some differences. Do you get the tortillas from Costco? They are the best!

  2. I love it to! Me and Royce have missed it so much we want to open a costa vida I know not as goo but they franchise! I going to try these reciepes for sure! Thanks You are great!

  3. We too have had to resort to making our own Cafe Rio Pork Salads. They have been so yummy and always a hit when we invite people who have lived in Provo before. Bob loves to make this!

  4. Question: For your pork recipe, how many oz of tomato sauce do I need?

  5. I am so excited! The recipe I have takes coke, and I love the idea of using root beer instead. Thanks for these recipes!

  6. Hey Christy! I dont know if you remember me from our old ward in Provo? Anyways Nicole Goggins told me about your amazing food blog. I love it! your such an awesome cook! I make the cafe rio salad all the time but the only problem I have is that whenever I make the dressing its really runny not as thick as the actual cafe rio dressing. Is yours the same way? just curious if Im doing it wrong or if thats just how it is? Tastes great though! Thanks! And hope everything is going well with you and your family!

  7. Hello. I just wanted to let you know that I made this recipe today and blogged it. But not to worry because I gave you the credit. You can check it out here, http://sweetteaandporchswings.blogspot.com/2010/11/brown-sugar-pork-roast.html.

    I love your blog by the way and haven’t even had a chance to save all the yummy recipes yet. Yum!

  8. Very nice blog and I think this’ll be my next recipe… seriously, I will do my best effort to make it alone but I guess it’s going to be difficult because this is my first time in this culinary blog. 23jj

  9. Cafe Rio has been rumored to be starting a small chain in the VA and DC areas!!! I am super excited!

  10. We made this tonight and it was amazing!

  11. @Allie,
    I totally remember you. Just saw this comment sorry…years later. The dressing is runnier than cafe rios but it depends how much water your tomatillos have in them I think.

  12. They have a cafe rio in Virginia and Maryland.
    Caferio.com/locations

  13. I moved from Salt Lake about a year ago and I’m CONSTANTLY craving Cafe Rio! Thanks for the recipes!!

  14. @Allie,
    I figured it out! Sometimes I used the .4 ounce package and sometimes I used the 1 ounce dressing packet. Use the 2 ounce and it will be perfectly thick!

  15. You’re kinda awesome ( :
    We have costa vida and chipoltles here in AZ. My son luuuvvvss the Barbacoa. This will save me $$.
    Thank you sweet girl who eats everything : D
    Joni

  16. ahhh! i’ve had this link posted on pinterest for awhile. i made the chicken and we loved it so i came back to make it again but the chicken recipe is gone! what happened to it? any chance i could still get it? thanks.

  17. @Amy,
    Oh no. Shoot! I pulled it because I wasn’t in love with it. I’m not home for another week but when I get home I can look for it in my recipe box and send it to you.

  18. My sister just introduced me to your blog. Thank you, thank you, thank you… Love your recipes!

  19. wonderful! my email address is amynoel at gmail dot com
    i just remembered to check back on this. whenever you get a chance, that would be great. thanks!

  20. @Amy,

    I emailed it to you but here it is for anyone else that wants it.

    Cafe Rio CHICKEN

    5 lbs chicken breast, boneless, skinless

    1 small bottle zesty italian dressing

    1 Tablespoon chili powder

    1 Tablespoon cumin

    3 cloves garlic, minced

    Mix all ingredients together in a large crock pot. Cook on high for 5-7 hours. Remove chicken and shred. Reserve a small amount of juice and pour over shredded chicken. Keep warm.

  21. My daughter and I absolutly love Cafe Rio’s Sweet Barbacoa Pork….but since we live in Cleveland, Utah (close to Price, Utah) which is about an hour and a half from the nearest Cafe Rio… we are going to try this recipe out. Glad I ran across your blog :-)

  22. Actually the term is not barbacoa….what you actually are cooking are carnitas. Barbacoa is something different. Does sound like a tasty recipe though.

  23. Hi I can’t wait to try this recipe this weekend! Thank you. Since I’m halfing the recipe, do you suggest I reduce the time in the crockpot as well?
    Thanks

  24. I have never been to cafe rio, but your recipes look amazing! My type of food for sure! Thanks for sharing!