Posted on Mar 1st, 2010 by Allison (Recipes)

Cafe RioIt’s no secret that I am a fan of Cafe Rio – especially their Chicken Tostada salad.  It used to only be served as a Wednesday special, and I actually planned my travel to Salt Lake around being there on a Wednesday for lunch or dinner.

I guess it proved popular enough that it is now a regular menu item, and every time I visit Salt Lake I make at least 2 visits to one of the several locations.  Kennedy says they make the BEST quesadilla EVER (and, even better – they serve kids quesedilla’s for free).

Seattle has a lot of great Asian food.  And the best Italian restaurant on the planet (well, that I’ve tried).  But no Cafe Rio.  And no decent substitute.

So when I discovered Cafe Rio copy-cat recipes, I just had to give them a try.

The results?   SUCCESS!

Cafe Rio Tostada Salad

Here’s the recipe (I halved everything except the dressing, and it made about 8 servings):


  • 5 lbs chicken breast, boneless, skinless
  • 1 sm bottle zesty Italian dressing + 1/4 cup water
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 T 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.

In a large pot, bring to a boil the following:

  • 6 2/3 cups water
  • 8 t chicken bullion
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro chopped
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 sm cans diced green chilies (I used mild)
  • 1 T lime juice
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 3  – 3 1/2 cups of rice

Cover and simmer on low for approx 15 minutes, or til water is absorbed.  Remove from heat and let sit for an additional 5 – 15 minutes.

In a saucepan, saute:

  • 2 T butter
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

Stir into rice before serving.


  • 4 fresh tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 t lime juice
  • 1 t salt1/2 t pepper


  • 1 pkg Hidden Valley Buttermilk Ranch Dressing mix (I didn’t use the entire pkg)
  • 1 C buttermilk
  • 1 C Mayo
  • 1 to 2 tomatillos
  • 1/2 to 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 to 1/3 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 t lime juice
  • 1/2 to 1 small jalapeno, seeds removed!

Other ingredients

  • Black beans (I actually soaked them overnight and cooked for an hour before serving – but canned black beans work too).
  • Sour Cream
  • Chopped or shredded romaine lettuce
  • Round corn tostada shells
  • Tortilla strips for the top
  • Grated Cheddar cheese
  • Lime wedges
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Grated Cotija or Parmesan cheese


Chicken Tostada SaladPlace corn tostada shell in a metal or foil pie plate. Spoon about 1/2 cup rice and 1/2 cup black beans on top.  Top with shredded chicken and a little grated cheese.

Pop under the broiler for a couple of minutes, til cheese melts.   It should look something like this when you take it out of the oven.

Chicken Tostada Salad - yum!Then top with lettuce, pico de gallo, tortilla chips, a few sprigs of cilantro and a little grated cotija or parmesan.

Add a scoop of sour cream and lime wedge on the side – and pour on the Creamy Tomatillo dressing (I like to use a lot).


(9) Comments   


Allison on March 1st, 2010 at 8:46 am

And for those of you you prefer the Cafe Rio pork over chicken, here is that recipe. I haven’t tried it, so when you do let us know how it turns out!


3.5 lbs pork roast
1 bottle taco sauce (8 oz)
1 T cumin
1 C brown sugar
1 can Coke (not diet)

Cook pork in pot on low for 6 hours (cover roast 1/2 with water. I cooked for a couple of hours on high and switched to low, that made it shred easier; also, when you add the other ingredients, please take out some of the water, leaving only about ½ in. in the bottom of the pot). Add ingred. to pork 3 hours before it is done.

Jennifer Pearce on March 1st, 2010 at 9:01 am

That is so exciting that you found a way to make it at home! I’m so glad it turned out successfully and that it helps alleviate your cravings. :) Thank you for sharing how you did it, so we can try it out for ourselves sometime too!

Kristin on March 1st, 2010 at 10:29 am

She shared with me last week and it was really tasty. :)

Ashley Rae on March 1st, 2010 at 12:34 pm

Mmmmmmm. I will definitely have to try this. Especially the pork one. That’s my favorite.

Michelle on March 1st, 2010 at 7:21 pm

That seems like a lot of work, I would prefer that you just made it for me.

Looks very yummy.

Allison on March 1st, 2010 at 11:29 pm

Michelle, it WAS a lot of work. Especially for someone who doesn’t like to cook. I’d prefer to let Cafe Rio prepare these for me any day – but when I need a fix and the nearest Cafe Rio is 1000 miles away, I’m happy I can replicate it. And even though I spent nearly one whole day cooking/preparing this – I was able to reheat the chicken/rice/beans and add fresh toppings for a fresh salad for several days in a row :)

Jean on March 2nd, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Thank You !
I love Cafe Rio….I am glad we have several in Las Vegas. It is nice to have this though so I can make it at home if I want to…

Chris on March 3rd, 2010 at 9:44 pm

You will be aghast, but I don’t think I’ve ever eaten at Cafe Rio! That must be remedied. If I made those recipes, I would have to not use the cumin and the cilantro, they both taste like plastic to me, but the rest sounds DELISH.

Brandon Pearce on March 4th, 2010 at 8:28 pm

Glad you can now enjoy Cafe Rio outside of Utah. :)

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