Tuesday, July 28, 2009

"Little Brazil",Culver City,CA-A gastronomic tour through a yet unnamed Brazilian enclave in LA

The courtyard of the Brazilian Mall displays the pattern on the sidewalks of Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro.

Salgados(savories)in the fridge at the Supermercado Brazil.

Dende oil(palm oil) and pimenta(malagueta peppers in vinegar) at El Camaguey.

If you've spent any time in the Culver City traveling on Venice Bl. from where the Camaguey Market is located on Veteran Ave. heading east to just past Clarington Ave. where Brasa Brasil Grill is located, you've probably heard Portuguese spoken on the streets. The number of Brazilian restaurants and businesses has grown in recent years.There's even a Brazilian Mall across the street from Cafe Brazil, one of the older Brazilian restaurants in Culver City.

I say it's time for a "Little Brazil". Many already have referred to this area at a Brazilian enclave, or community.Here you can eat a variety of Brazilian cuisines, shop for sexy Brazilian bikinis, stock up on authentic ingredients Brazilian recipes, buy an Ivete Sangalo DVD, and send money to your family in Rio.

Some of the best Brazilian cooking is found spread all over the greater Los Angeles area.Natalaia Pereira hails from Minas Gerais and brings elegant home cooking to her downtown Woodspoon.Moqueca, a newcomer in far away Oxnard, brings the cuisine of Espiritu Santo, home of the original moqueca capixaba. It has a full menu of moqueca(seafood stews) and rare regional dishes. The cooking of Sao Paulo is well represented at El Sereno's Taste of Brazil, where a fine feijoada is available every day, among other sold plates. There are churrascarias all over Los Angeles, the best being Fogo de Chao, a chain from Brazil. But, recent events in "Little Brazil" with the arrival of Luciene Peck at Rio Brasil Cafe, the discovery of Sabor da Bahia's Brazilian street food, and Nalva at Zabumba have raised the stakes for substantial regional cooking.

Acaraje to go at Sabor da Bahia, at an apartment near Overland and Venice Bl.

A mural at the Brazilian Mall displays the culture, history, and diversity of Brazil.


Cafe Brasil
It always feels like summer here, and is the ideal setting to enjoay an afternoon in LA. It feels like Brazil. The juices here are the real deal, passionfruit sweetened with real sugar cane juice tastes as good as the juice stands in Rio.They also have a sugar cane juice make from fresh stalks, surprisingly mild in flavor. Best bets here are the prato feito(complete meals), a protein with all the Brazilian sides, rice, beans, greens, and farofa(manioc meal).The pasteis(pastries) are nice too, they're very light on filling, but still are enjoyable.Try the hearts of palm pastel.

Pampas Grill
This is the second branch opened by this excellent por kilo(by the kilo)restaurant. The food is weighed, a very popular type of service in Brazil, and then you pay for what you eat. The salad bar is immaculate, the pratos quentes(hot plates) are textbook versions of Brazilian classics like stroganafe and abobara(pumpkin).They have 7 cuts of churrasco, 2 more than their Farmer's Market location, and beer and wine.This is an authentic por kilo, well received in the Brazilian community for its flavor,authenticity and quality.Por kilo is a great way to go when you don't want the full churrascaria experience.

Rio Brasil Cafe, (formerly, Brazilian Exotic Foods)
This restaurant opened in the former location of Cafe Toros followed by Delicias do Brasil, was closed for a minute, and has reopened as Rio Brasil Cafe. I went before it closed, was excited to try more of their plates, then was saddened by the sign saying they were closed. I received word that they were back, a tough time to open a specialty restaurant, but had a chance to dine there the other day. This cooking is from Rio De Janeiro's Luciene Peck. Try bobo de camarao(shrimp in a yuca cream),kibe de forno(baked kibe),casquinha de siri(Bahia's crab au gratin),or her awesome feijoada, when available.This restaurant is a shoestring operation, but the cooking here is top notch.It will be formidible when they can bring a full menu.They make brilliant salgados(savories) and will have these available when they get a hood for their deep fryer.I tried the bobo de camarao the other day and was brought to tears.It's worth a trip for this dish alone.

Sabor da Bahia
Reni an Ilma make acaraje and abara from their apartment near Overland and Venice. They bring authentic Bahia street food to "Little Brazil."One of the best kept secrets in LA.

Always a great place to check out a variety of local live music acts,but was never a food destination. That's until Nalva arrived. Nalva is another talented Baiana that recently took over the kitchen. Zabumba is open thursday through sunday evenings for a number of music themed nights. Everything here is delicious and filled with love. Salgados fried perfectly, devastating feijoada, addicting Brazilian pizzas, and home cooked moqueca de peixe(fish stew bahia style)She makes the best pao de queijo(cheese bread) in town. Try the peixe com molho de maracuja(fish in passionfruit sauce), or just a plain misto quente( the ubiquitous ham and cheese sandwich from Brazil).

The sleek and friendly Supermercado Brazil, has all the eats and treats from back home.

The Mall
The Brazilian Mall has a great store called Supermercado Brazil. They have frozen salgados and other foods to go, everything you need to make traditional Brazilian foods, music and DVD's, beverages like Guaranana, Brazilian coffees and sweets, and yes they have Havaiana's and bikinis. There is a Brazilian beauty salon next door, and coming soon, a Brazilian pizzeria.The courtyard of the small Brazilian Mall has the same pattern of the floor as the beach walk on Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro.Brazil Explore magazine has an office here too.

Nalva's pao de queijo is killer at Zabumba.

The Markets
El Camaguey
This place has a full spectrum of latin american products, but a strong emphasis on Brazilian foods due to the needs of the local community. You can get picanha cut by the butcher for your backyard churrasco, carne seca(cured beef), bacalhau(salt cod), and all the condiments necessary to spice the Brazilian way.

Palms Super Market
I've never been here, but they are known to carry Brazilian products as well.

Brazilian calabresa(sausage)pizza, I crave it!

There are places to send money back to loved ones in Brazil. The restaurants are frequented by Brazilians and there is a real Brazilian community living here as well. You hear Globo blasting on TV sets as you walk around the residential streets around here. One of the oddest experiences I had here was watching the Brazil vs. France World Cup match back in '04 at Cafe Brazil along with Brazilians and Brazilian soccer fans. When Brazil lost, all of us wearing our green and yellow were taunted and heckled by several cars driving by proudly flying the flag of France.I couldn't believe my eyes.The French knew where to go, Little Brazil.

Mandioca(fried manioc), coxinha(little chicken leg), and kibe(brought by Lebanese immigrants to Brazil) are top notch salgadinhos at Zabumba.

Zabumba stirs up the night with reggae and salsa, but come for the food.

bacalhau(salted cod), and carne seca(cured beef) available for Brazilian cooks in the Palms and Culver City area, at El Camaguey.

The new Pampas at Culver Center is even better than the original at the Farmer's Market.

Come to "Little Brazil".Try the exciting cooking of Rio Brasil Cafe, Nalva at Zabumba, and get some acaraje to go from Sabor da Bahia.Enjoy the diverse restaurants, listen to Axe being played on the patio at Cafe Brazil. Pick up a copy Carnaval 2009 on DVD over at Supermercado Brazil and a cold Guarana. It already exists, so let's make it official.

Fresh salads at Pampas.

The suco de maracuja(passionfruit juice) at Cafe Brazil is made with sugar cane juice, it tastes like a walk on sands of Ipanema Beach.

Pratos Quentes(hot plates) are classic Brazilian at Pampas.

The latino market featuring many Brazilian products.

Cafe Brazil, still a great way to pass a lazy summer afternoon.

Pastel de palmitos(hearts of palm pastry) at Cafe Brazil.

Rio-Brazil Cafe (former Brazilian Exotic Foods Restaurant) hangs in there in this tough economy.

The Restaurants

Cafe Brasil
10831 Venice Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90034

Pampas Grill
3857 Overland Ave
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 836-0080

Rio Brasil Cafe(formerly Brazilian Exotic Foods)
3300 Overland Avenue
Suite 103
Los Angeles, CA 90034
United States
ph: 310.558.3338
fax: 310.558.3307

Sabor da Bahia
catering and orders to go(call first)
Fridays-acaraje and abara

Zabumba(Cozinha da Nalva-Nalva's cooking)
10717 Venice Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90034
(310) 841-6525
Thursday through Sunday nights
7Pm 'til late

Brazilian Mall
10826 Venice Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 837-4291

El Camaguey
10925 Venice Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90034
310) 839-4037

Palms Super Market
3568 Motor Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90034


glutster said...

bad ass round up shifu--
looking forward to learning the ways...

gourmetpigs said...

Thanks so much for this complete and great round-up! $18 churrasco in a place as close as Culver City? I'm down. Plus I've been craving feijoada since you steered me to A Bolinha!

Unknown said...

I loved it ... Come soon for the brazilian pizza here @ the Brazilian Mall !!!

Exile Kiss said...

Hi Street Gourmet LA,

Very cool report! :) Thanks for breaking it down and highlighting so many interesting places. :)

streetgourmetla said...

Glutster, ta bom meu irmao vamos pra Brasil na Cidade Maravilhosa!

streetgourmetla said...

Hey Burumun.It won't be as elaborate as A Bolinha, but Nalva and Luciene are killing it. Incredible feijoada, they just don't have access to all the salted pig parts, meats, and sausages.The flavor is the real deal though.

streetgourmetla said...

Milena, tell them to hury up with that pizza.Saco!!

streetgourmetla said...

Exilekiss. Nao e nada! Many fun places for you to explore.

Bahia Preciosa said...

Hi Bill,

Comer, é comer na Bahia !
E comer na Bahia, é comer no Pelourinho !
Here are some suggestions of restaurants that you should try in Pelourinho:

Cantina da Lua
Jardim das Delicias
Casa da Gamboa
Maria Mata Moura
Encontro dos Artistas
Alaide do Feijão
Acarajé da Ró

Yami,yami,yami !

I hope to see you soon here.



CEP: 40026-260

FONE: 55 - 71 - 3242-5218
CELULAR: 55 - 71 - 8604-8491

streetgourmetla said...

Bahia preciosa. Tudo certo! Conheco a Salvador e comi acaraje no Pelourinho, cara. Obrigado pra recomendar os restaurantes! Beleza.