Emporio Brazilian Cafe

Brazil, Cafes, Churrascarias, Latin, South America — By on March 16, 2010 4:14 pm

Enjoying my caipirinha

After a glorious ten days in Brazil (Rio de Janeiro, Paraty and Tabatinga) , I’m feeling refreshed and excited to find a Houston restaurant that offers a combination of all the dishes I tried in Brazil. The challenge is on.

Brazilian food, I found, has a lot in common with Colombian food. This makes perfect since they are both tropical countries that share a rain forest. Plantains, cassava (yucca), bananas, passion fruit, guava (guayaba), are some of the ingredients Brazilian cuisine shares with Colombia’s. After realizing this, eating in Brazil brought a lot of memories to me from my homeland, Colombia.

Now in Houston, I have found Emporio Brazilian Caf, and learned that like in any other country, this region’s food differs from the rest of other Brazilian regions. I was not sure what to expect from Emporio because most of the Brazilian restaurants in Houston focus on the Churrascaria angle. I thought it would be best to stick with dishes I saw and experienced in Brazil.

Marcos, the manager at Emporio, suggested the feijoada, fish stew and of course, steak. These choices were very hard to make. I liked everything he suggested, but there is only so much I can eat!

In Brazil I had a lot of meats- a lot! I also had cassava, beans (feijoada) and empanadas so I started a process of elimination in my mind that got kind of crazy: Meat will be meat everywhere and there were many things I did not get to try that my friends did. Maybe I can try those here, but I still want the feijoada mmm I can have cassava any time- scratch that out, and forget the french fries, but count in the cheese bread! Caipirinha? YES! Oh, but I’m driving. Well, I guess a little bit is ok

I finally made up my mind and decided on the fish stew with a side of feijoada, cheese bread and of course a caipirinha. While I waited for my food, I sipped on my caipirinha and snacked on the cheese bread. The first basket is on the house, but believe me, you’ll want more they are addicting. Minutes later, the fish stew is delivered to my table and I’m very pleased to see it’s a big portion enough for two. The steaming meal includes cod, shrimp, coconut milk, onions and peppers and it smelled deliciously fresh. It did not have the typical fish smell, it tasted surprisingly clean and the coconut was understated, allowing you to enjoy the main ingredient the fish.

My side order, the feijoada, was great! It had the smoky pork flavor I expected. I think I’ll go back and order a big portion just to see if I get the big pot like I did in Brazil. Unfortunately, I did not have room for dessert, but the dessert selection really made me doubt whether I could push it or not. Talking about sweets reminds me – try the fried bananas (not to be confused with sweet plantains) they are ridiculously yummy!

I was very happy to find that Emporio Cafe gives you a mini version of the churrascaria approach, for a very reasonable price. You can actually sample all the meats and the feijoada (black beans) as a side order. If you order the Churrasco Gaucho” you’ll be set. This is great, especially for someone who can’t make up their minds on what the heck they want to eat -like me.

As I’m eating I noticed there were at least two or three tables with Colombian patrons, mostly families. Like I said, Brazil and Colombia have a lot in common in the kitchen and I’m not the only one who feels at home.

In Brazil, I fell in love with the country, the people and just how giddy I felt being there. At Emporio, I felt the same sense of familiarity.Marcos and the staff were as nice as the people in Brazil, and as I find out they have happy hour, special events on Wednesdays and Thursdays, I am excited to make plans to attend and practice my Portuguese this place could be my new home.

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