Beyond A Brazilian Doorway

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It may not look like much, but this doorway allows access to a hidden world of gratifying Brazilian cuisine.

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Cantinho Brasileiro, located inside the El Camaguey Latin Market, is a take out space just large enough for the staff to conjure a short list of Brazilian meat, chicken, fish and appetizers specialties.

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They cater and today were hard at work cranking out huge trays of meat dishes and cheese bread.  We managed to sneak in an order which they prepared expertly in about 15 minutes, giving us a chance to shop the exotic market.

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Our “restaurant” order included the irresistible coxinha, a Brazilian chicken and cheese empanada whose creamy interior reminiscent of béchamel sauce, oozes chicken and cheesy goodness.

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Cutting into the breaded crust, we found the shredded chicken and dollop of cheese to be a little bite of heaven.

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The peixe a parmegiana is a large breaded filet coated in tomato sauce, sliced green olives and cheese, creating warm comfort in the form of fresh white fish under a mouthwatering jacket.

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Dishes come with white rice and your choice of sides, we chose the potato salad over french fries or green salad.

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Black beans or brown beans are the final choice customers need to make.

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Since we were already in the market, we picked up a few additions to round out dinner including fresh vegetables and South American sodas.

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Shelves are filled with the famous chimichurri sauce, an Argentinean herb condiment available in both red and green varieties.

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Alfajores, the South American shortbread cookie sandwich stuffed with dulce de leche or other sweet fillings, are available if one feels inclined to add a sweet to the end of their meal.

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Great food in Los Angeles is found in a myriad of unusual places and behind a little doorway in a Latin American market lies some super fresh and tasty Brazilian not to be missed.

Cantinho Brasileiro, 10925 Venice Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90034              Phone – 310-815-0101          website – cantinhobr.com

Twice As Nice Brazilian

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Cafe Brazil has two locations, but we are drawn to the little green, tropical shack on Venice where Bill Esparza, Street Gourmet LA, first introduced us to Brazilian food.

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The plant heavy environment, keeps things cozy with pillow laden chairs, open-air outdoor setting, mismatched furniture, bright colors and great Brazilian food.

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Guests place orders inside before choosing a table to relax into.

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The menu is a smattering of breakfast, hot sandwiches, combination plates, grilled entries, salads, appetizers and specialties.

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A salsa bar offers spicy additions to the flavorful, mild cuisine.

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While the homemade pickled vegetables pack a vinegar smack and slight spicy punch, always an exciting enhancement to the food.

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Unable to decide, we chose to try all the appetizers which are easily cut and shared, except for the pao de queijo (cheese bread), which we reasoned were too small to share and required us each to order our own portion.

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We started  with coxinha, also known as Brazilian chicken croquettes. They materialized as large, ball shaped turnovers of soft, thick, rich crust, stuffed with a flaked, spiced chicken mixture that is even better when hit with a few drops of hot sauce.

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The light and airy pasteis we had stuffed with beef and cheese that oozed out when we cut into it.  The gooey dairy and spiced beef were a substantial bite inside the flakey pastry.

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Risoli are buttermilk flour puffed pastries filled with seasoned beef and deep fried.  It’s hard to go wrong with crispy bread wrapped around a mild spiced meat.  Again, the hot salsa and picked vegetables were a great compliment.

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Finally the empadinha are extremely rich, soft, crusted, layered pastry which we elected to have stuffed with chicken.  The crumbly dough falls apart easily and melts away with a buttery finish.

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The heavy appetizers were a meal in themselves and with a simple salad would have been enough, but we had to try the Portuguese sausage plate.  The mild slices filled half the plate and were enhanced by addicting grilled peppers and onions. The chef was kind enough to concoct a mustard sauce for us which, although not exactly mustard, satisfied our craving and intensified our experience.  Plates are served with a choice of soup or salad, a big cup of salsa, white rice, satisfying black beans, and super sweet fried plantains that we could eat all day long.

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Siting on the patio, we felt as though we were transported to the home of a dear Brazilian friend who was kind enough to cook for us. The attention to little details and strong use of color added to our enjoyment of the space and the food.  For an utterly charming taste of Brazil, we recommend a visit to Cafe Brazil on Venice for the outdoor experience and Washington for the indoor adventure, of emersion into Brazilian culture as fully as is possible at a restaurant in the heart of Culver City.

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Cafe Brasil, 10831 Venice Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90034
Phone – 310-837-8957          web site – cafe-brasil.com

or

Cafe Brasil, 11736 W Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90066
Phone – 310-391-1216