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Aug 1, 2006 04:37 AM

Recs for Brazilian or Portuguese Lunch on Cambridge St.

Today I took the 66 bus up Cambridge Street and saw tons of lusophone eateries, mostly between Inman and Lechmere. I'll be back in the area on Wednesday and want to eat lunch in one. Where do you recommend? I'd prefer to keep it under $15/person.

Oh, and I've eaten at the Midwest grill before and would prefer a new spot.


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  1. I'm a fan of Moqueca. Just had some great moqueca with mussels, prawns and fish. A huge bowl of feijao tropeiro (beans with manioc flour, eggs, carne del sol/dried beef, couve/julienned kale). Also a coxinha de frago, lovingly season chicken wrapped in a ok mashed potato shell, good deep-fried snack.

    Also good in your price range (at least during lunch time) is O Cantinho.

    11 Replies
    1. re: limster

      Agreed with this, these are two really great options up that way. Both of these spots are gems, imo.

      1. re: limster

        Muqueca can be a bit crazy at lunch time and I am not a big fan of their buffet, but if you order a la carte you will enjoy it. I like the Bobo de Camarao over the Moqueca as they are probably the only Brazilian Restaurant that takes it seriously. You can also head next door to Casal Bakery for a pastel de nata and a "bica" afterwards in their cafe.

        There are a lot of Portuguese options. For lunch I tend to go to Portugalia in part for the Bacalhau a Bras and in part because they are a bit quicker with service.

        1. re: itaunas

          Had lunch at Moqueca twice recently and it wasn't particularly crazy. Didn't realize they had a buffet; they didn't lay anything out -- is it something one asks for? I like the Bobo too, and the tripe's also a good deal, although I prefer the moqueca over that.

          Agree with the bacalhau at Portugalia, although I wasn't particular impressed with the meat dishes I got there a while ago.

          Didn't particular like the pasteis de nata at caasal, the custard seemed a little rubbery, but that's also been a couple of years since. Glad to hear it's better now.

          1. re: limster

            They laid out the buffet pretty normally, although it was sometimes covered and was hard to find plates. If you wanted a fixed-price lunch box (to go only) you had to ask, otherwise it was self-serve. Looks like you are correct -- they took out the steam tables and (possibly related) it was deathly quiet today, although a few more folks were arriving around 1:15. Too bad, I used to like running into old acquaintances there, but the a la carte offerings are where its at. We tend to go Saturday afternoons and its still pretty busy at that time.

            The Brazilian restaurants where I have had better Dobradinha are Sabor do Brazil which has gone downhill and Brazil on Ferry in Malden which is one of the better places that delivers. But most restaurant attempts are pretty half-hearted and I have some friends who make excellent versions, so it isn't usually something I order.

            Portugalia in my experience excels at seafood, but has some weird karma with meat dishes. This tends to limit it in my book for dinner, but I happily lunch there (especially since the snack bar has raised their prices twice, sunset is slow, and casa portugal is a hike -- currently on vacation). For meat at lunch I would either get something from the Snack Bar (good place for a quick prego/bifana) or do Sunset. The Snack Bar also has an excellent "portuguese man of war sub."

            The small Brazilian cafe across from the Atwood has reopened in its 3rd incarnation. They had some nice large coxinhas and I know they planned a bunch of sandwiches, but I didn't see any evidence of them offering a plate of the day which the 2nd incarnation did.

            I pick up the pasteis de nata from time to time, usually on fridays, and they have stayed pretty consistent. The cafe is a bit more variable (and stay away from their coxinha, muqueca is just across the st) and I have had a sub-par one there, but its generally pretty good. At some point someone had mentioned they stopped making them, but I asked a friend who worked there about 9 mos ago and she indicated they were making them there. The packaged ones from New Bedford have a nicer custard, but I prefer the crust at casal.

            1. re: itaunas

              C'mon, itaunas, you can't put out there something like 'portuguese man of war sub' and not embellish! More info please?

              I stopped in at the Snack Bar once and got a decent kale soup, and a couple of salt cod fritters that tasted of OLD oil and went in the trash. But that was probably 2 years ago. What else do you like there?

              FWIW, I always preferred the pasteis de nata at Casal, though it did go downhill for a while when ownership changed. I thought the version at O Cantinho was a little too egg-y for my tastes.

              1. re: itaunas

                (Response to MB fka MB post which was too deep to use "reply")
                The Portuguese Man of War Sub comes with marinated pork, a slice of ham, american cheese, and a fried egg. Its a lot of food for around $6 (they don't list it on the paper menu and prices have gone up) and I like to think of it as a tacky portuguese cubano. :-)

                I like the way they marinate meat (basic portuguese marinade) and their plates are good enough to satisfy an urge. The carne a alentejana is short on littlenecks, but they are usually fresh and the potatoes done right (now more expensive than sunset). The bacalhau a gomes sa doesn't compare to portugalia (and at lunch is more expensive), but comes dripping with olive oil. The "terra a mar" is a pretty decent combo at a reasonable price. The febras is a decent bargain. They have regular specials which tend to be a bit more economical too (roast pork, etc).

                I definately recommend the sub and they have pretty good offerings in the under $6 range. I think its better for things like pregos, than pasteis, although I have had a decent (frozen) ressois de camarao. J&J's is better and same overall price range for dinner and there are plenty of lunch deals on Cambridge St, so for more sophisticated plates I might suggest somewhere else.

                1. re: itaunas

                  Why can't I reply to MB or Itaunas' second post?

                  In any case, never noticed the Snack Bar. Is that in the Sunset area of Cambridge St.? Little hole in the wall? Sounds like that sub would last me for 3 meals.

                  1. re: itaunas

                    Joanie, the snack bar is a few blocks east on the North Side of Cambridge Street. (BTW, you can't reply because the threading only goes 5 levels deep.)

                    1. re: itaunas

                      Okay, how many 'hounds am I going to bump into ordering a Man o War this weekend? Bet that's great with a little hot sauce and a 20oz. bottle of cold, cheap beer.

                      1. re: itaunas

                        The Snack Bar is right across from Card Medeiros (by the train tracks and St Anthony's church) with a large green awning and "O Senhor Ramos" written and designed in a chef's uniform. Their number is 617-491-8292

                        I wouldn't call it a hole-in-the wall. There is one right next to Sunset's bar entrance which does breakfast and subs (never really checked it out for portuguese food) and there is a Salvadoran sub shop near the SoupnSalad which has a few tacos and pupusas, I haven't been for a long time though. La Hacienda over on Medford St (road that goes behind twin cities plaza) used to be more of a hole in the wall (sawdust on the floor, etc) and is ok for red-sauce italian/american items.

                        The Atwood (former Overdraught) has redone its menu and added a bunch of interesting beers, but I haven't tried the food yet. There also is a East Side Lounge that opened recently, but the menu didn't look that appealing (overdone bar apps, pizza, and red sauce standards).

                  2. re: limster

                    I love O Cantinho. They also have this amazing caramel cake (I think that's what it is) dessert - if you don't eat it then, definitely get it to go.

                  3. Lusophone? Pl. explain - not in!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: EllenMM

                      Lusophone means Portuguese-speaking. Lusitania was the name of the western Roman province in the Iberian peninsula, so Luso- is a prefix indicating things Portuguese, but not limited to the country of Portugal. The Lusophone community covers not only Portugal in Iberia but Brazil, the Azores, Madeira, Cape Verde, Angola, Mozambique (home of Theresa Heinz Kerry, for example), Goa, Macau, et cet. Eastern Massachusetts has Lusophone connections going back centuries, and it's an important part of our ethnic heritage.

                    2. For anyone hoping to follow in the OP's footsteps, that's the *69* bus that goes up Cambridge St. (Harvard <-> Inman <-> Lechmere), NOT the 66.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: mbtabus69

                        Thanks, I was scratching my head over it. Especially since there may not be a Lechmere or Inman, but there is, of course, Cafe Brazil on Cambridge St on the 66 rte. Not tons, but not none.

                        1. re: psora

                          Oops! Sorry about that. You're right, of course, it's the 69.

                      2. Wnet to O Cantinho. Potatoes, marinated pork, favas, custard. Delish.