The best places to eat Brazilian food in SoCal

The best places to eat Brazilian food in SoCal
Photo by Gonzalo Guzman on

From feijoada and pão de queijo to açaí and caipirinhas, the best places to eat Brazilian food in SoCal are cooking up these favorites in Los Angeles and San Diego lanchonetes, churracarias, açaí cafés and more. If you’ve ever enjoyed a complete Brazilian meal, you’ll know that manioc (or cassava) serves as a staple for Brazil’s dining culture.

Whether toasted to make farofa or served raw, manioc seasons stews and often accompanies meat-heavy dishes. While servers will present ketchup or shakers filled with salt and pepper at most American restaurants, Brazilian eateries always provide a side of farofa. In its country of origin, farofa arrives in generous portions.

If you’ve lived in or visited SoCal, you’ll know that the açaí berry of the Amazon has a trendy image on the West Coast. In Brazil, açaí na tigela takes center stage in the food community. We know it as a sweet but healthy treat topped with fresh fruit and granola, but Brazilian açaí is also served with manioc, among many other unexpected toppings.

More often than not, when you eat an açaí bowl blended in America, the açaí disappears underneath excess sugar and fruits. Authentic açaí has a bland taste with a hint of natural sweetness. Some may mistake the taste for blueberry.

Beyond the food itself, Brazilian dining has a distinct culture. A meal is a communal event for family and friends, not a rushed source of fuel for the rest of your day. The eateries on this list embody that culture and serve delicious dishes. Read on for our picks of the best places to eat Brazilian food in SoCal.

The Brazilian Taste – Los Angeles

Brazilian street food tops most other forms of the cuisine. The rich flavors of Rio’s savory snacks inspired Mineiros Bruno and Vanessa Oliveira to dish out pasteís, pão de queijo and coxinhas. They even have lesser known snacks like efihas, which are flat pastries topped in cheese, herbs and sometimes shredded meat.

Unsure what to try? Definitely go for the pão de queijo, or Brazilian cheese bread, often made with tapioca flour. These bite-sized snacks will ensnare you with their warmth and hint of sharp and milky cheese. The Brazilian Taste also offers hand pies crammed with flavorful fillings and seasoning.

Brazilian BBQ – Los Angeles

When Americans think of barbecue, summer evenings with sticky fingers and family and friends often come to mind. Brazilian barbecue isn’t far off, featuring churrasco on the beach, in familial backyards or from churrasqueiras (street grills). Most attendees have a skewer of grilled meat in their hands.

Check out Brazilian BBQ in West Los Angeles for a taste of barbecued picanha, chicken plates swaddled in bacon or a myriad beef-based sides. Sorry, vegans and vegetarians. Stay at home for this one.

Açaí Republic – Los Angeles

Based on the açaí shops littered throughout Brazil, this chain has spread like a weed – a very tasty weed. Jiu jitsu teacher Adriano Nasal founded Açaí Republic, and it has become the neighborhood hangout he imagined.

The café serves açai na tigela, tropical juices and Brazilian pastries. You can choose from a selection of several blends, including guaraná, mango and pitaya. Of course, Los Angeles foodies swarmed the scene, hoping to chow down on some soothing superfoods inspired by São Paulo shops. The açaí berry contains a multitude of healthy properties, including antioxidants, vitamins and fiber.

Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse – San Diego

Brazilian steakhouses may be the most familiar of the cuisine when it comes to the American food scene. Fogo de Chão has graced the US, Puerto Rico, Mexico, the Middle East and Brazil with its long history of serving churrasco (grilled meat).

The founders grew up on a farm in the south of Brazil where they learned traditional methods of cooking churrasco. After undergoing formal training, the founders created the first Fogo de Chão in the rural area of Porto Alegre in 1979. Less than a decade later they expanded to São Paulo after garnering quite the reputation among Brazilian urbanites. They then expanded to America and have continued to grow each year. Come here to taste the history of Brazilian grill.

Brazilian Bowls – San Diego

Serving a variety of sweet and savory bowls out of a little shop in Pacific Beach, this San Diego eatery provides plenty of vegan and gluten-free options. From bowls based on famous stews, like a black bean dish often topped with farofa called feijoada, and faux meat books to açaí bowls and smoothies packed with nutrients, Brazilian Bowls has a simple menu for anyone looking for an introduction to Brazilian cuisine.

Even better, you can take a bowl or smoothie to go and nibble on your meal outside while you stroll on the beach or the boardwalk. Try a classic guarana soda or the strawberry refresher for a cold drink on summer day.

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