So last week, when I posted these fish tacos, I promised to post my grilled fish tacos, too. Which I am doing today, but really, especially since once you’ve cooked your fish, you basically assemble the tacos in the same fashion that you put together the fried tacos, I want to share another recipe with you today as well.

We’ve posted a lot of Cafe Rio/Costa Vida-esque knockoff recipes that we’ve developed, like the Creamy Lime Cilantro Dressing and the Green Enchilada Sauce. Well, while I was living in Utah, but especially since I haven’t lived close to my favorite Mexican restaurants in over two years now, I have wanted a recipe for their Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette. See, some people are die-hard fans of their creamy dressing, while others prefer the vinaigrette, and I’m somewhere in the middle. In fact, I used to order a little cup of each because I could never make up my mind.

Well, I searched and searched the internet over and have not found any knockoffs of the vinaigrette. So I decided it was time to make my own. And I failed. A lot. This dressing has been a work in progress for a long time. But, my friends, the stars have aligned and the second I tasted this, I knew it was right. It doesn’t look exactly like their dressing because I emulsify the oil, but I promise, it tastes amazing.

I love this dressing on just about any salad, but I also love it because it works fabulously as a fresh, bright marinade for just about any kind of meat. For fish tacos, just marinate any kind of mild white fish (like cod, tilapia, red snapper, or mahi mahi) for about 20 minutes and then lightly brush a grill with oil and cook over medium heat for 8-12 minutes (depending on the thickness of the fish) until the fish flakes easily. Flake the fish and season with Kosher salt and a little extra dressing if you like. Serve the flaked fish in either homemade flour tortillas or corn tortillas. Like with the fried fish tacos, you’ll need to slightly cook the corn tortillas so they don’t overwhelm the flavor of the fish; you can brush them with olive oil and bake them in an oven set to 425 for about 5-10 minutes, cook them in a skillet with some olive oil until they start to brown but are still flexible, or, as one of our readers suggested, run them under some water and then cook in a hot cast iron skillet. Serve with pico de gallo or mango pico de gallo, cabbage (cole slaw mix), cotija cheese, guacamole, and lime wedges and salt for seasoning.

But back to the dressing. You’ll just need a few ingredients that you may already have on hand–canola oil (olive oil was too strong), rice or white wine vinegar (regular white vinegar would also work), lime juice, sugar, Kosher salt, lots of garlic, and cilantro.

In the jar of your blender, combine the lime juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, and sugar. Blend on high until everything is combined. With the blender running, pour the oil in as a steady stream. Add cilantro and blend until the cilantro has broken down but it isn’t completely pureed–you want to see some of the texture of the cilantro leaves.
Serve over greens, any kind of Mexican salad, or use as a marinade for meat or vegetables.





  1. 1
    LollyChops says:

    You guys already know that at this point the creamy lime cilantro dressing is part of my DNA… is it possible that this NEW version will take it's place???

    I cannot wait to find out!

  2. 2
    Steph says:

    I have to tell you…I've been scouring thrift stores (because I'm cheap…er…thrifty) to find a cute little glass pitcher like the one you guys always use for your pictures here. And a couple weeks ago I found one for a buck. I was so excited! It actually has some buttermilk syrup in it currently…yum!

  3. 3
    Angie says:

    Ok, I am trying this tonight!

  4. 4
    Hippie Family... says:

    OMGosh!! I can't wait! Lolly's juju must have sent me this 😀
    I am trying this out asap

  5. 5

    I had my very first taste of Cafe Rio a couple weeks ago when I went with my mom and youngest sister to drop off the middle sister at BYU… it did not disappoint!! I didn't get to try any of the dressing, but this looks great and I love a good marinade.
    PS: I also love your cool glass pitcher w/ stopper! 🙂

  6. 6
    Scott and Em Hoffman says:

    Hey Kate,
    This looks oh so good! We love to grill fish, thanks for a new way to feed our habit!

  7. 7
    Holly says:

    Yum! Yum! Yum! Cilantro lime has to be 1 of the best flavor combos ever!!!

  8. 8
    Julie says:

    I'm going to give this a whirl. I recently found a supposed copy-cat recipe on-line and it down right nasty. I've got my fingers crossed for this one. 🙂

  9. 9
    Spryte says:

    Mmmm…. I've looking for a nice Mexican vinaigrette!

  10. 10
    Cathy - wheresmydamnanswer says:

    Hmm Hmm good!! WOW that will play so well in the sandbox!!

  11. 11
    Mari's Cakes says:

    I love this! I always have cilantro at hand, thanks for the recipe.

  12. 12
    T-Wan says:

    I saw this earlier and knew what we were having for dinner. I just finished a batch of the vinaigrette but mine end up being green goddess green. I think I blended it a bit too long but it's still tasty. Thanks for sharing.

  13. 13
    Natalie says:

    Yay yay yay I loooove this dressing at Cafe Rio! THANK YOU!!!

  14. 14
    Pickles for Breakfast ! says:

    "oh crap, don't have anything for dinner meal" Egg and (whatever I have to throw in it)potato Frittata!! Two main things that are usually in my kitchen.. eggs, cheese and potatoes! Fast, easy, cheap and all the picky eaters like it!

  15. 15
    Stacey says:

    I made this vinaigrette last night and brushed it over my chicken breasts. It was SOO good. My husband was sold. I think it is probably my new favorite way to cook chicken. I coupled it with the cilantro pineapple rice, chips with mango pico de gallo and some corn. YUM!!! Thanks for all the great recipes.

  16. 16
    Emi says:

    these look DELICIOUS!!!!!!!! i will definitely have to attempt them- fish tacos were a weekly staple at home in Hawaii, and I have not found a decent recipe since. These look like they will satisfy my craving. Love the blog!

  17. 17
    lifeofadoctorswife says:

    These sound amazing! I so prefer grilled fish tacos to fried… And with this dressing, I think these are going to become a new regular in our line up.

  18. 18
    Sara @ Our Best Bites says:

    I drizzled this on steak tacos with shredded lettuce and fresh pico de gallo and it was soooo good. A couple hours after dinner I went through my fridge in search of anything I could dip in the leftover dressing!

  19. 19
    alilars says:

    Made the grilled fish tacos for dinner. Can I just say DELISH??!! Really, really good. The cilantro lime vinaigrette is the perfect sauce for drizzling. Thanks!

    Oh, and I used olive oil spray (found in the grocery store section by Pam, etc.) to spray my corn tortillas before cooking on my griddle. Perfect… not too oily, yet they were flexible and just the right amount of flavor.

  20. 20
    funkymom says:

    I've never been to Cafe Rio so I know nothing of their dressing, but Trader Joes has an awesome Cilantro Lime dressing that is always out when I go in to buy it! Now, I can make it anytime. Thank You!

  21. 21
    Jamielyn says:

    mmm thanks for posting this! Can't wait to try it? Have you come up with a recipe for costa vida sweet pork? You should post it if you do! MMM now I want costa vida!

  22. 22
    Lara says:

    oh my goodness, these were amazing!! i poured a little dressing right on to the tacos as well! thanks for the recipe!

  23. 23
    Leigh says:

    AWESOME!!! I had tried a recipe I found online…..but this is SO much better!!! You never dissapoint!!

  24. 24
    winterflamingo says:

    Just made these – SO wonderful! I used mahi mahi and it was so moist and tender and flavorful after marinating in the dressing. Served with mango pico and slices of avocado (also fabulous!). So fresh and tasty. Thank you!

  25. 25
  26. 26
    Kate @ Our Best Bites says:

    Analisha–My guess is that either the cilantro and garlic didn't get chopped up enough in the blender or that it hasn't stood for long enough. If you try it again (or try blending it some more and let it stand), let us know how it goes! 🙂

  27. 27
  28. 28
    Jen says:

    Omg! I just tried making this salad dressing last night. I love cilantro and this dressing was amazing! It was not hard to make at all. Everyone enjoyed it and it was just on regular salad, no need for anything mexican themed.

  29. 29
    Rosie says:

    I made this dressing (with these tacos) tonight and at my first taste I also thought the flavor was overwhelmingly canola. By dinnertime (a few hours in the fridge to rest) the other flavors came out beautifully. That said, I think next time I'll decrease the amount of oil a titch.

    My husband, who does not like fish, loved these tacos. Yippee!

  30. 30
    Kat says:

    Oh my this sounds amazing!! Its bright and early in the morning and I want to make this NOW! Thanks so much for sharing :):)

  31. 31
    Emily says:

    I made this tonight and paired it with the Cornmeal-Crusted Tilapia Salad (from Cooking Light). EX. CELL. ENT. Thanks as always for such great stuff!

  32. 32
    Wanda says:

    I have just discovered your web site after reading the article about you in LDS Living. This is a great website! I have loved the recipes that I have tried so far. Thank you for taking the time to share your talents with others!

  33. 33
    Amanda says:

    Thanks for the recipe! How long will this dressing keep in the fridge?

  34. 34
    Kim Burditt says:

    This was the best sauce ever! I am on the 17 day diet, and this dressing was perfect for fish and fit the requirements to loose weight. I think this may be the best sauce ever!

  35. 35
    Kelly says:

    This was so good!! Loved it!!

  36. 36
    Eloise says:

    I made this yesterday, snd realized this: i only like ranch on my salads. :-}
    Although there was enough of this dressing left over, that i used it to marinade my chicken. AMAZING! this is a keeper!

  37. 37
    Becky Helvig says:

    UNBELIEVABLE!!! I am obsessed with fish tacos and made this vinaigrette, and the fish tacos (with both your mango salsa and pico de gallo recipes) just as recommended above and seriously will never be able to eat a different fish taco again! The flavors are incredible. Can’t wait to try the vinaigrette on something else! Thanks for sharing!

  38. 38
    Megan says:

    Hi Kate. How long will this last in the fridge? Also, have you tried using this as a marinade for shrimp? Just wondering if it would work well? And if so, how long should I marinate the shrimp? I’m assuming longer than white fish?

    • 38.1

      Megan–I probably wouldn’t keep it longer than a week. And it would be AWESOME on shrimp. If they’re in their shells, it would be longer (probably the night before), but if they’re out of their shells, it would be about as long as the tilapia.

  39. 39
    michelle says:

    i only have table salt will this work?

  40. 40

    Michelle, that’s fine- but table salt is more “salty” than kosher salt, so cut it down. Maybe start with half and then add more to taste.

  41. 41
    Lindsey says:

    I’ve been searching for a milk-less Mexican dressing, thanks for posting this!

  42. 42

    I love your blog! I posted this recipe on my community food blog…hopefully you’ll come check it out!


  43. 43

    This is a phenomenal recipe!!! This is by far my new favorite way to prepare fish. It was hard to keep myself from eating all the fish before getting it into the taco. Fantastic!

  44. 44
    Jen M says:

    I LOVE!!!! this dressing. It has become a new family favorite and the best part is it’s light on calories so I don’t feel bad about having a good tasting dressing on my salads. Thanks so much for this!

  45. 45
    Lily says:

    I’m on a diabetic diet..does it really need the sugar?

  46. 46
    Sheena says:

    Seriously…BEST dressing EVER!!! I could literally eat it with a spoon!!

  47. 47
    Jaime says:

    A friend of ours just gave us a bunch of fresh caught mahi.I just recently heard of your website and thought I’d pop on for ideas.This will be perfect w/ fish tacos.Yum.Can’t wait.Ps- love your site!

  48. 48
    Steve L. says:

    Awesome recipe! I just made my second batch (doubled) Roasted 8 cloves of garlic instead of raw so the family will try it!

  49. 49
    Sally Harrison says:

    Oh my. I just made this. It is just right. A hint of tang. A hint of sweet. So many uses. So little time. Thanks!

  50. 50
    Tanya says:

    My mouth just watered!

  51. 51
    Judie says:

    Can olive oil be used in stead of Canola oil?

    • 51.1

      If you use virgin or extra virgin olive oil, the flavor of the oil will be very strong, but if that doesn’t bother you, go ahead. I’d recommend either pure olive oil (which is much milder) or sticking with a vegetable oil.

  52. 52
    Susan says:

    Just tried this and it was amazing! Everyone raved over this dressing! I will definitely be adding this to my repertoire!

  53. 53
    Cathy Bush says:

    I love your wonderful Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette! Somewhere between reading your recipe and watching a recipe on television I put La Costena Green Mexican Salsa on my grocery list and now can’t find the recipe it goes to! Do you have a recipe that uses this ingredient? I vaguely remember it being mentioned with tomatilas. Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks so much!

    • 53.1
      Blondie says:

      Cathy, you’re probably thinking of the Creamy Lime-Cilantro Dressing. It uses the La Costena Green Mexican Salsa. I make the dressing to dip with the chicken taquitos from this site. One word — awesome!!!!!

  54. 54
    mary says:

    I just did this recipe today n it was amazing I just used reg vinegar

  55. 55

    I just made this for lunch and it was amazing. One question, how should I store it? In the fridge or at room temp?

  56. 56
    Steffanie says:

    Okay, I am obsessed with Cafe Rio’s vinaigrette and I’ve tried EVERY copy cat recipe on the internet. None of them even come close except yours! Thank you a million!! I am sooo happy I found this! This is how obsessed I am… I made your dressing Friday night. Saturday night I went to Cafe Rio and brought back an extra container of vinaigrette. Compared the way they looked (I didn’t blend mine) and tasted them side by side. I think theirs has less oil and more sugar, but that is an easy tweak, and otherwise it was pretty darn close! Yay!

  57. 57
    Cathy Hall says:

    I was not impressed with this recipie. I bumped up the cilantro and used the whole bunch, increased the salt to 1 1/2 tsp. and used a full 3 limes. It tasted so much better.

  58. 58
    Jules says:

    Made this with fresh lime juice and fresh cilantro – WOWSERS!! We all loved it! Thanks for sharing this great recipe!

  59. 59
    Arissa says:

    I subbed parsley for cilantro because I don’t care for cilantro and it was delicious. Also I used sunflower oil instead of canola and it came out great!

  60. 60
    Shonna says:

    How long will this stay good in the fridge?

  61. 61
    Delia says:

    I made this the other day and it was a hit… great over fish tacos or any fish dishes..and chicken..i like it also as a salad dressing…if you have not tried’s a MUST MAKE!! ***** stars

  62. 62
    Artwhore says:

    Used sunflower oil instead, but still turned out amazing. Definitely the best cilantro dressing I’ve made!

  63. 63
    telesha says:

    just love it so much i want a cute glass to put it it also lol

  64. 64

    […] made a tweaked version of the Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette from Our Best Bites to drizzle over the salad. I substituted Meyer lemon juice for half of the lime […]

  65. 65
    Beth says:

    Wow!! I just made this for my sweet husband and it was AMAZING! Well done on this recipe! We loved it!

  66. 66
    Katie says:

    I make this dressing once a week to have with my salads. I’ve found that it tastes MUCH better if you let it sit for a couple hours so the vinegar can break down the flavors in the lime and cilantro. Perfect on salads, chicken, fish… really anything! Easy and cheap to make!

  67. 67
    Laura M says:

    We marinated and grilled some Alaskan cod with this dressing for our fish tacos and was DELICIOUS! It is definitely comparable to Rubio’s!

  68. 68
    Maria A says:

    Trader Joes sells a delicious Creamy Cilantro dressing, but I can’t wait to make my own with this recipe.

  69. 69
    diva dee says:

    Yay!!!! This was awesome. Very light and refreshing.

  70. 70
    tracy says:

    It came out delicious. But I was wondering how thick is it supposed to be. Mine is pretty thick and vinaigrette is usually runny.

  71. 71
    Lynn Rivers says:

    Your recipes says use white wine vinegar or rice vinegar but the picture is of seasoned rice vinegar. Does it matter? I have to watch the sodium and the seasoned has sodium whereas the others do not. Just curious. 🙂

  72. 72

    Nope, any of those will work just fine 🙂

  73. 73
    Caitlynn says:

    Approximately how long does this dressing last in the fridge before it goes bad?

    • 73.1

      It’s hard to say–usually when it comes to fresh produce, a week is a good rule of thumb. I wouldn’t keep it for longer than 2. If it starts taking on a weird color or smell, I’d toss it. Wish I could be more specific!

  74. 74
    Bonnie says:

    I have made this before and put it on our fish tacos and it was so yummy. I had everything on hand except for the limes but I had lemons so I decided to go for it. Don’t do it!! For some reason using the lemon juice turned it into a mayo consistency! Glad I hadn’t put the cilantro in yet. Off to the store for some lime juice. ha ha

  75. 75
    Hunnynectar says:

    Yum! I love the cilantro/lime vinaigerttes at both Costa Vida and Cafe Rio, and this recipe satisfied my craving! Thank you 🙂

  76. 76
    Dee says:

    So had a bunch of cilantro, what am I going to do with it? Pinter estate, Tada.
    Canola oil, check
    White & apple cider vinegar, okay
    Cilantro yep
    Garlic, indeed
    Limes, yep
    OK, let’s try it.
    Oil,garlic, vinegar, salt, lime juice, into blend. Next Cilantro, looks great. Tastes too oily for me, add more lime juice, and zest. Okay not bad, needs something else, fresh black pepper, and how about a couple of spoons of Tequila! Yeah that is awesome.

  77. 77
    Heather M. Last whipple says:

    i am unable to find your grilled fish tacos recipe anywhere on here. i click on the word these next to fish tacos i get to a page that says apologizes, the page can not be found, perhaps searching will help. so i then click on a picture for maybe what looks like a grilled fish taco it does not take me anywhere. which is an absolute bummer. because i wanted the grilled fish taco recipe that you are saying you posted on here with this dressing recipe. maybe i am not clicking the picture enough times or i don’t know what i need to do, . i was so looking forward to reading the grilled fish taco recipe. and pinning it on pinterest. would it be anywhere on your pinterest boards?
    please let me know.

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