Cafe Rio Sweet Pork {Copycat}

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork {Copycat} – Sweet shredded pork made in the slow cooker, inspired by the popular Cafe Rio restaurant!

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork {copycat}

If you haven’t eaten at Cafe Rio, you haven’t lived. That is my honest opinion. It is also my personal opinion that Costa Vida is not a suitable substitute, even in a pinch. It’s really not even in the same ball park here, so let’s just stick with the creators of the true sweet pork
. Cafe Rio.

I feel a hostile debate coming on from all of the Costa advocates. Let’s keep it nice and friendly shall we?

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork {copycat}

The great thing about this recipe, well… besides the fact that it is DELICIOUS and incredibly easy because it involves a slow cooker (my best friend), is that it’s so versatile. I mean, we all love the famous tostadas and salads from Cafe Rio but it doesn’t have to end there. Make a big batch of this pork and use it all week long in quesadillas, enchiladas, tacos, on sandwiches and in wraps, the possibilities are endless!

Cafe Rio Sweet Pork {copycat}
Cafe Rio Sweet Pork {Copycat}
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Sweet shredded pork made in the slow cooker, inspired by the popular Cafe Rio restaurant!
Recipe type: Main Dish/Pork
Cuisine: Mexican
Serves: 6
step 1
  • 2 pounds pork (rib meat or loin)
  • ¾ cup coke
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
step 2
  • 1 cup coke
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ¼ teaspoon onion salt
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
step 3
  • ¾ cup coke
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 4 ounce can diced green chiles
  • 10 ounces mild red enchilada sauce
  1. Step 1: Place pork in a zip lock bag. Add coke and brown sugar and seal bag. Chill at least 1 hour or overnight.
  2. Step 2: Add pork to slow cooker and discard marinade. Add coke, water, garlic salt, onion salt, and chili powder. Cover and cook on high 3 hours. Drain slow cooker and shred pork with two forks.
  3. Step 3: Blend coke, brown sugar, chili powder, green chills, and enchilada sauce together in blender. Pour sauce into slow cooker. Cook 30 minutes longer. Serve with rice if desired.
Serving suggestions: over rice, in enchiladas, tacos, on a sandwich or in a wrap, in a salad, and anything else you can imagine!

Recipe slightly adapted from Favorite Family Recipes.


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I have always wanted to try coke in cooking pork, this recipe looks great!

    Well isn’t this interesting. I was just doing some Google research on Cafe Rio sweet pork because I wanted to do a blog post about it. Even though I’ve never been to Rio, I have been to Costa Vida for their version, and was wondering if it was the same thing. Thanks for mentioning CV. Now for the sake of research, I’m going to have to do a taste test this weekend. Rough job. 🙂 Great photos by the way.

      Oooh you’ll definitely have to let me know what you think! My husband I swear by Cafe Rio, but there are die-hard Costa Vida fans too so we’ll have to see which side you’re on here 😉 P.S. I think Coasta Vida’s beef is better than Cafe Rio’s so I’m not totally biased!

        I have always found that cafe rio gives me bigger portion sizes than costa vida. Could I use dr. P instead of coke in this recipe?

          Sure, the flavor will probably be just slightly different but you probably won’t even be able to tell. 🙂

Before step 3 are you suppose to drain it? Or add the blended mixture into the mixture it has been soaking in?

    Hi Morganne, you do drain the slow cooker before shredding and adding the new sauce to the pot. Sorry about the confusion, I’ve updated the directions! 🙂

I made this a couple days ago and it was AMAZING! The husband and I have been to Cafe Rio a couple times but we’re usually Costa Vida fans. And we ALWAYS get sweet pork 🙂 I actually already had shredded pork roast in the freezer (maybe 2 lbs), so I just made the sauce from “step 3” and simmered my pork in it. It was delicious. I made your sweet pork enchiladas, then the next day we ate it on salads. Twice. This recipe is a keeper!

Cafe Rio and Costa Vida used to be business partners but they parted ways. That’s why their food tastes so similar. There is no competition between the two because the recipe is pretty much the same.

This is delicious! I made it for the first time this weekend for a party I had. It all disappeared before I could take a picture. My boyfriend and I love Cafe Rio and this recipe is excellent.

How can I make this using Chicken instead? ?

    Just replace the pork with about 3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts.

Does it matter that the liquid no where near covers the meat? Anything I do in the slow cooker , the liquid always cover sthe meat. I just put it in and am a bit concerned. Thanks!

    Hi Christina, if you followed the directions and amount for ingredients then you should be just fine! 🙂

Just curious why we throw out the marinade?

I made this two weeks ago without the marinade. It was a huge hit! Making today by marinading first sonI assume it will be even better.


    Hi Ali, the marinade is mainly to tenderize the meat, it isn’t needed for the cooking process. Glad you enjoyed it!

Well I cooked the sweet pork, put a couple of Tbs. of it on bottom third of a flour tortilla, topped with grated colby jack cheese, rolled it up, sprayed it with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt and baked it at 425 for 8-10 minutes. To die for!!!


All of you people who made a comment are lucky to have such good cafes to go to and enjoy such great food. I am in the San Joaquin Valley in California and have never heard of the cafes you have mentioned. I am from a Hispanic background and we cook different than the cafes here. My Dad was from N.M. If you like pinto beans try this. Fry some bacon and remove from skillet and some cooked beans and fry till crispy. So good with fried eggs. Thanks for the sweet pork recipe.

I am very excited to use this recipe! I was wondering why you are using rib meet or loin as compared to a shoulder? A shoulder is always what I had used previously for shredding. Do you know what you would need to change in your recipe?

    Hi Cody – you can definitely use a shoulder, totally up to you! You shouldn’t need to change anything!

what is the dressing you have over the top of it, do you have a recipe for it?

    Yes! Search tomatillo ranch dressing on my site!

It is my intent to double this recipe and make 4lbs. If done in the same crockpot should my cooking time be altered?

    Hi Scott, doubling the recipe may require some more cooking time but just keep an eye on it, when it falls apart easily with a fork it’s ready!

Do you have the nutritional info for this recipe?


I love love love cafe rio! Trying out this recipe tonight!

What kind of enchilada sauce do you use? Hot, mild, medium, Green chili kind?

    Mild works great!

Have you ever tried cooking this longer (6-7 hours) on a lower setting? Thanks!

My husband and I looove Cafe Rio sweet pork and I’ve been talying about making our own at home for a year now haha. Finally got a crock pot but I only have 1 pound of meat. Should I just halve the cooking time?

    Hi! You should still be able to cook it for the same amount of time. Enjoy!

      Thanks for the reply! It’s been cooking for 2 hours now. Excited to see the results