Most of the time, Sabor Brazil is a combination grocery store and coffee house, with fresh Brazilian juices, snacks, and bakery items. The cafe part is cheery and sunny.
The fresh caju (pronounced ‘ka-ZHOO’) juice is some of the best juice rworange has ever had in her entire chow-focused life. It is all tart and tangy, something like pineapple juice without the fruitiness or acidity. Tons of other juices, too, including acai (palm berry), acerola (wild cherry), and abacaxi (brazilian pineapple). Cocao juice is white, with a unique taste–buttery, tart, and tangy. It tastes a little like lychees, and a little like passion-fruit. You can also get cocoa with cream–cocoa juice blended with milk and sugar. This results in a very different beverage–frothy, a little pulpy, and quite good.
Great snacks, too, like coxinha–a croquette shaped like a chicken thigh. This is basically a hunk of plain stewed chicken, wrapped in potato, rolled in bread crumbs, and deep-fried. The dough has a mochi-like texture, a nice contrast to the crisp breadcrumb crust. Theirs is a very nice coxinha, but the coxhina at Sunstream may have a slight edge.
The best two snacks are disco and empadeo goiano. Disco is a meat patty covered with flavored bread crumbs and deep-fried. It tastes like a really good Italian meatball. Empadeo goiano is Brazilian chicken pot pie. It has a nice brown crust, which looks like brioche, but turns out to be a delicious, thick layer of cheese. Inside, there’s shredded stewed chicken, mixed with green olives, diced potatoes, corn niblets, and spices.
Chicken enroladino is pie crust with a soft chicken filling (really soft–as in mashed potato soft) and bits of corn. It comes in two sizes; one’s a big turnover, and the other is basically a mini-muffin.
Pao de queijo are little walnut-sized cheese bread. These are good (though, again, Sunstream’s version might be a little better). Take ‘em home and heat ‘em up. Quibe (a mix of minced meat, mint, and couscous fried in oil) is good, as is rizole de milho–yet another deep-fried, breadcrumb-covered snack, this one filled with creamy cheese, corn nibblets, and some sort of chopped green herb.
There’s also a Brazilian marketplace with coffee, condiments, guava fig newtons, and a freezer case full of frozen Brazilian fruits.
But here’s the big news (and we thank you for your patience). This place also throws dinners once a month, on Sundays. The next one is in July. There is no dinner this month because, well, soccer.
But back to fried snacks once more if we may. The best coxinha of all may be the ones at Nino’s Pizzeria’s, which come in regular and cream cheese versions (the cream cheese is mixed into the dough). They’re served with jalapeno-spiked ranch dipping sauce. It’s peppy.
See a great web page (with photos) of Brazilian salgadinhos (all these crunchy savory snacks) at: http://home.wxs.nl/~rolfpoll/Brasilbar/Snackbrasil.htm
Sabor Brazil [East Bay]
4820 Bissell Ave., at San Pablo, Richmond
Sunstream Cafe [Richmond]
2884 Geary Blvd, San Francisco
Nino’s Pizzeria & Brazilian Restaurant [East Bay]
1916 Martin Luther King JR Way, Berkeley