Berkeley - Brazil Cafe opens in second location
When I learned that Brazil Café which opened this week next door to Zatar on Shattuck was the same as the little outdoor shack around the corner on University, I didn’t look all that closely at the menu because I thought there would be lots of info on the web about it.
There is … but how many times can you read ‘the tri-tip is amazing’ … I can tell you … I read way over 100 reviews that said that over and over. There were a half a dozen people who didn’t like it.
Anyway … the tri tip is amazing.
The café plans to have an expanded menu with daily Brazilian specials like feijoada. They still haven’t worked out the menu. They are currently closed Sunday, but once they get established they will be open Sunday and earlier in the morning.
They plan to serve croissants and pastries from the same bakery that makes their fantastic bread … A Sweet Affair Bakery. They pick up the bread and rolls every morning from this Walnut Creek bakery located on 1815 Ygnacio Valley Rd.
A few other things I gleaned on the web
- the pastrami … yep, pastrami … is supposed to be excellent
- the hummus is supposed to be delicious
- the tuna salad is said to be mighty fine
- quite a few vegetarians are happy with the ricotta sandwiches.
The Brazilian influence on the tri tip is unmistakable. It is like the type of tri tip that would be sliced from a skewer at a churrascaria … a little chewy and salty but popping with flavor The meat itself seems to be marinated
Even if you don’t like cilantro don’t pass up the garlic cilantro sauce because the garlic is in control and the cilantro just adds to the complexity. If the menu didn't mention cilantro, I doubt I would have guessed what it was.
The French roll is so good, soft yet sturdy to hold up to the substantial sandwich which has very fresh lettuce, tomato and grilled onions. There is also walnut bread, oatmeal bread and pita.
That’s the nice thing about the sandwich … all the ingredients are balanced and contribute to a harmonious deliciousness.
There are about 4 variations of the tri tip sandwich. The ultimate version had pineapple and jalapenos and a few other things. I went with the #8 - the basic version.
The smoothies are really slushies. The acai is the best I’ve had to date. These people know how to treat acai and there is none of the graininess that sometimes happens with this fruit. It is grape purple and not overly sweet or overly … well, acai. There are also mango smoothies. Coffee is bricks of Brazilian Caffe Ponto.
Pretty much the menu is based on tri tip, chicken and ricotta cheese. There also tuna salad, roast beef, turkey and pastrami. The menu uses those ingredients for hot plates, Mediterranean plates, salads, cold sandwiches, hot sandwiches, deli sandwiches and paninis (which might not be available at the original location, though I’m not sure).
Sandwiches have colorful names like Carnival … tuna salad but I think there’s corn in it.
Hot plates are over rice with grilled onions ricotta cheese, salad, cilantro garlic sauce and fresh baked bread. There’s tri tip and teriyaki chicken. These are generous plates heaped with delicious looking food.
There's a table with bottles of hot sauces, IIRC, Tapatio, a green sauce and a habenero-based sauce.
This is the old Zmocha location with a new coat of paint and Brazilian music playing. Order at the counter, take a number and your order is brought to your table. CASH ONLY!!!
There are the same four high bar tables, two regular tables and two window seats. However the tables have been painted with bright tropical pictures. It is pretty, colorful and modern and not as flashy as the University location. The major color is muted pumpkin that is brightened with four large colorful paintings of parrots, a street scene and a beach with surfboards (with real beach sand and shells attached). The kitchen is painted lemon yellow and has a lime green painting. Orange orchids that match the pumpkin colored walls are on each table.
For the fans of the funky décor of the University location, don’t worry. It still draws you out of Berkeley. Sitting there I thought this must be like sitting in a pleasant café in Brazil.
Did I mention the tri tip is amazing?
Previous reports about the original location on University - Brazil Fresh Squeeze Café
Brazil Cafe – Berkeley
Brazil Fresh Squeeze Cafe - Report - Not Closing
Brazil Cafe, Berkeley
Brazil Fresh Squeeze Cafe
2161 University Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704
1983 Shattuck Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704
I love their tri tip and frozen mango and acai (and sitting out in a parking lot by an old photobooth) as much as anyone.
While I hope they prosper in the new location, this strikes me as a place that would do well to stick to what they're good at. A bigger menu is not necessarily better.
I suspect the University location is tenuous. A few years ago they almost lost the lease, so this gives them a permanent place to roost should that situation occur again.
I think they are being cautious about expanding the menu. They were in no hurry to implement it on day one and were more interested in getting the kinks worked out in the new location. From my understanding, the new dishes are limited to one or two specials a day.
So any Chowhound reports about the pastrami?