Cafe Rio Salad


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This is a fantastic copycat Mexican salad fully loaded with our favorite salad ingredients and then drizzled with an awesome Creamy Tomatillo Dressing.

Cafe Rio Salad

Within a few months of moving to Ohio last year, my family was lamenting the fact that we no longer lived near a Cafe Rio Mexican Grill. Cafe Rio serves fresh options for salads, burritos, tacos, and more.

Yes, I just realized this sounds like an ad for the restaurant. But alas, it is not. Unfortunately, only in my dreams am I paid to rave about Cafe Rio.

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If you’ve ever lived near one of their restaurants and enjoyed their salads on the regular you may understand our lamentations at now living so far away from this deliciousness.

Fortunately for all of us, it’s as easy as can be to make your own Cafe Rio salad at home!

Cafe Rio Salads

The restaurant builds their salads starting with a crisp warm tortilla in the bowl. The tortilla is non-negotiable.

Now, while I don’t always have the motivation to make Homemade Tortillas or Gluten Free Tortillas for these salads, taking the time to warm up a good store-bought tortilla and sprinkling cheese over it is always worth the effort.

That freshly made cheesy tortilla is filled with romaine lettuce and then topped with black or pinto beans, cilantro-lime rice, and your choice of beef, chicken, or pork.

Add a scoop of pico de gallo or your favorite salsa, guacamole, sour cream, a squeeze of fresh lime, tortilla strips, cotija cheese, and fresh cilantro. Drizzle with the Creamy Tomatillo Dressing just before serving.

Cafe Rio Salad copycat recipe

Cafe Rio Salad Recipe

Making a copycat salad is as easy as layering your favorite ingredients into a large bowl!

Cafe Rio Creamy Tomatillo Dressing

If you’ve been lucky enough to visit a Cafe Rio regularly, you know that they tend to be super generous with the cilantro on their salads. I recommend chopping the cilantro as I’ve directed in the recipe.

However, for the most authentic Cafe Rio salads possible at home, throw the whole bunch of cilantro on top of your salad, stems and all.

Copycat Cafe Rio salad with cilantro on top

Want to love eating salads? I wrote this post, “How To Eat A Salad Every Day” to share my favorite salad ingredients, toppings, and dressings all in one place.

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Cafe Rio Salad

Cafe Rio Salad

This is a fantastic Cafe Rio copycat Mexican salad fully loaded with our favorite salad ingredients and then drizzled with an awesome Creamy Tomatillo Dressing.
Servings: 1 large salad


  • 1 large flour tortilla
  • ¼ -½ cup shredded cheese Mexican blend
  • cup Cilantro Lime Rice
  • black beans
  • ½ cup shredded chicken grilled chicken, grilled steak, pulled pork, ground beef
  • 2 cups romaine lettuce
  • ¼ cup Pico de Gallo
  • ¼ cup Guacamole
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mini tortilla strips
  • 1 tablespoon Cotija cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro chopped (or just through the whole bunch on there and gnaw through it all)
  • 1/4 cup Creamy Tomatillo Dressing


  • Heat a large skillet or grill pan over high heat and toast a tortilla in the dry skillet. Flip the tortilla over, sprinkle with cheese, and cover with lid to melt.
  • Place the cheesy tortilla in a large bowl and fill with romaine lettuce, beans, rice, and your choice of beef, chicken, or pork. Add the optional toppings of your choice.
  • Drizzle with the Creamy Tomatillo Dressing just before serving. Enjoy!


Calories: 800kcal · Carbohydrates: 88g · Protein: 36g · Fat: 34g · Saturated Fat: 13g · Cholesterol: 107mg · Sodium: 1102mg · Potassium: 863mg · Fiber: 9g · Sugar: 10g · Vitamin A: 9033IU · Vitamin C: 14mg · Calcium: 381mg · Iron: 4mg
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Copycat Cafe Rio Salad

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Nunya says

    This isn’t a salad. This is a open burrito called salad so people feel better about eating a burrito. 😆

    • Mary Younkin says

      Nunya – So you aren’t completely wrong here. But this recipe is so good you have to try it! Thank you for making me smile and have a great day.