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Richmond: Smart Coffee BR / A Taste of Brazil – Over 30 fabulous pasteles, outstanding soup, sonho (donut), x-tudos and more

rworange Mar 2, 2010 10:08 AM

This is a find if I do say so myself. It is the best Brazilian snack shop in the Bay Area with the star being the fried-to-order pasteles. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.

I was offered a complementary pastele filled with chicken, corn and catupiry (Brazilian cheese).

The tiny warm packet held in a thin, crisp bubbly crust was delicious.

There are 24 fillings to choose, alone or in a combination. A good many are the type of things that top pizza such as olives, onions, basil, oregano, pesto, ground beef, bacon (Canadian or American), ham

However there is also camarao, gauairoba, palm, piqui, ricotta

The dessert pasteles have a choice of guava, banana, dulce de leche or pineapple fillings

There are six specialty pasteles
- Goiano: cheese, chicken, piqui, catupiry
- Mineiro: cheese, beef, gauairoba, catupiry
- Paulista: cheese, ham, tomato
- Carioca: cheese, camarao, bacon, corn
- Gaucho: cheese, beef, olives, onion
- Latino: Cheese, ham, corn, jalepenos
- Mr. Pizza Man: cheese, ham, tomato, oregano

Note: The only thing most Mr. Pizza Man pizzarias have in common is the name. Smart Coffee seems to also own the Mr. Pizza Man on 22nd in SF which has an extensive Brazilian menu. It has nothing to do with the Richmond Mr. Pizza Man

I was also given a small espresso cup of one of the most wonderful chicken soups I’ve ever had with the deepest, most chickeny broth I’ve had in a long time. It was filled with pieces of chicken and corn. There seemed to be a bit of cilantro in it. It was not over-salty like so many restaurant soups. It was rich but not fatty.

They also have caldo verde and bean soups.

The owner is smart by offering generous samples of what they do best … a Brazilian Bakesale Betty. On my own I would have never tried the pasteles and probably not the soup.

I was given a mane pelado, a yucca cake mixed with coconut. This was muffin-sized and like one of the best coconut macaroons I’ve ever had, so moist and full of flavor.

What I did buy was

Sonho – This was a fat donut cut in half and filled with one of the most elegant versions of dulce de leche I’ve tried. It wasn’t overly sweet or cloying.

Esfirra – I chose the ground beef with was mixed with onions, corn and bits of tomato in a bready turnover. I went Brazilian and added the small packets of mayo and catsup which really made it. Think of what those condiments do to a burger … same idea.

Coffee – I guess the brand is Smart Coffee. The nice touch was when I asked for milk, they added steamed milk. They have a coffee drink called a toddynho that I’m going to try today.

All baked goods are made in house.

They also have Brazilian beverages and shakes, acai bowls, snacks such as quibe and coxinha, sandwiches such as bauru, x-bacon and torta de fraqngo, fries, garlic fries, onion rings, quail eggs, Buffalo wings, soups, salads and much, much more.

The interior is sort of bare bones. There is a kid’s room and they have an internet lounge in another room.

This is located in the Brazilian green building across the street from Bank of American on MacDonald and San Pablo. There was Brazilian grocery and juice bar a while back which I liked a lot and missed. I love this place and am only sorry I’ll be leaving the area in a few days.

I wish I had the time to give this report the attention it deserves, but with limited time, this is the best I can do. I highly recommend it … especially the pasteles.

-----
Smart Coffee BR
4820 Bissell Ave, Richmond, CA 94805

  1. twocents Mar 2, 2010 10:23 AM

    I had been waiting with bated breath since you mentioned the Brasilian place a few days ago. I went to the predecessor in this place (Edit: Sabor Brasil) a lot in the few months before they closed. I think that was also on your recommendation. Are they going to make feijoada? What's your current rec on feijoada. I had it recently again at Nino's in Berkeley, which was fine, but there's got to be better.

    I hope we won't be without you for too long here, unless of course you find the new situation suits you enough to be permanent.

    Best, twocents.

    8 Replies
    1. re: twocents
      rworange Mar 2, 2010 10:43 AM

      No feijoada. They don't have the set up for feijoada ... which I think may have mainly to do with plates ... this is more of a snack, sandwich and soup set-up.

      What was almost distressing was when I asked if he made feijoada and his face lighted up and he said he made wonderful feijoada ... and then further clarfying he meant at home. Sigh.

      Nino's was pretty far down my feijoada list. The best to date has still been 25 West in Point Richmond.

      Looking forward to the adventure, but my heart is here. It is the place I love best of anywhere I've lived. If it weren't for earthquakes it would be heaven.

      But who knows. It was weird driving around thinking this is the last time maybe at the Ferry Building, my last time over the GG Bridge, etc.

      1. re: rworange
        c
        cakebaker Mar 2, 2010 01:05 PM

        I had to tell you I've so enjoyed reading all your comments and all your efforts at informing us.
        I hope you have many new memories you can't even concieve yet and I'm sure your heart will follow in time. That's the thing about life...it's the things you didn't see coming that can be the best. You can always make a new choice. Have fun finding new food discoveries!

        1. re: cakebaker
          rworange Mar 2, 2010 05:58 PM

          I stopped by for a late lunch today and got a banana pastele and the Mineiro: cheese, beef, gauairoba, catupiry

          It turns out he made a mini sample yesterday. These are huge ... like a big calzone.

          Thanks to reading yelp I found out they make their own hot sauce. The name is pimenta malagueta. The creamy pink sauce is one of the hottest I've ever tried.

          I was curious about what gauairoba was. I was told it was bitter. It is a type of Palm from Southern Brazil. I didn't find the small white cubes bitter. The savory pastele was very tasty with the ground beef and oozy cheese.

          The banana was super. The same white oozy cheese was used and brown sugar was involved.

          These have to be eaten immediately. The cheese solidifies and there is no way I can imagine these being reheated. Not quite the same shape, but here's an idea
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pastel_(food)

          It was more like this, but the Smart Coffee version looks better
          http://farm1.static.flickr.com/87/238...

          Thanks for the kind words. I'm looking forward to the trip. I had a plans a few years back for a round the world thing that fell apart at the last minute. I can't think of anything better than going to live with a family at a place rather than being a tourist. When I worked in Mexico and Taiwan it was cool actually dealing with the people who live there on a daily basis. However, the Bay Area so far is my choice to live ... and no matter how long I'm gone ... Connecticut will always be home.

          1. re: cakebaker
            e
            elliora Mar 2, 2010 05:59 PM

            Just wanted to add to the chorus of how much you will be missed. My husband makes fun of me because I always want to try the places you've been to. I have a whole list of rw's posts I a very very slowly working my way through. So far what I have tried has been incredible and has really opened my eyes to what it means to be a true chowhound. It sounds odd and corny and maybe even slightly stalkerish (I swear I'm not) but I feel as if your posts really enrich my life. I will add smart Coffee to my list.. Thank you again and good luck.

            1. re: elliora
              rworange Mar 2, 2010 06:09 PM

              Thanks. Get the banana pastele frist.

              I forgot to mention that they had the tv going in the other room. It a projection tv, so the entire back wall was the screen. Gotta be a great place to watch soccer games.

              Also, there are cards on the counter offering a 10% discount until 4/30. I didn't give them the card, but my receipt has the discount.

              1. re: rworange
                josquared Mar 3, 2010 09:56 AM

                I'll say I'll miss you too rw - I don't post much anymore (marathons and running in general are my real passion, which means I selectively venture into more delectable treats these days) but I always have tried to keep your recommendations and comments in mind when I happen into certain cities in the Bay Area, just in case I decide I can afford to sample that paleta or tamale or similar.

                1. re: josquared
                  rworange Mar 3, 2010 11:19 AM

                  Thanks. You know, IMO, vegan/vegetarianism has entered a new age.

                  Not that it has anything to do with marathons or running, but more a healtier life style.

                  The first time I really found it worthwhile was at Ubuntu. Since then there are a slew of places such as Amada's in Berkeley or Encuentro in Oakland ... though I know both are not on your usual migration path.

                  Melanie even turned up a Mexican lady serving vegan and healthier Mexican food out of the trunk of her car.
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/691893

                  One of the Chowhound principles, I think, is to find deliciousness no matter what your circumstances.

                  Of course, these deep-fried pasteles are not on the healthy list. I'm hoping to get back tommorrow to try one more savory verson and a sweet one ... maybe guava and cheese.

                  1. re: rworange
                    josquared Mar 3, 2010 09:22 PM

                    Funny thing is I'm still trying to be better about veggies and the like. I'm learning to appreciate them more though. And being active does allow me to indulge a bit more and not feel the pinch so much (that served me well when I was in Malaysia last summer for 6 weeks.)

                    But your central point is a good one, and I do try to seek out yummyness still, even if it is in a more restricted fashion. Your scouting out locations has helped me over the years, and I've appreciated the efforts

      2. rworange Mar 2, 2010 12:09 PM

        Here's a photo of a sonho which translates as 'dream;
        http://www.cherryspoon.com/2009/07/13/brazilian-yummies-sonho/
        http://internationalkitchen.blogspot....

        1. n
          Nina Mar 2, 2010 08:52 PM

          Best of luck and bon voyage, rw! I wondered what was up when I read your farewell to Grocery Outlet....and no listings on hot cross buns for this season. I think your posts have always displayed the true spirit of Chowhound, enthusiasm and open-mindedness with no pretense. Good qualities for wherever the road may take you...

          1 Reply
          1. re: Nina
            rworange Mar 3, 2010 08:11 AM

            Thanks. Alas, no hot cross buns. As I've been rushing around, I have been eyeing bakeries for maybe a hcb I haven't tried yet... but so far nothing. I did start a topic ... I do have 3 days left.
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/691976

            On the positive side I should be in Guatemala for Palm Sunday and Easter ... how cool. Also, I did some posts a few months back on the drive down and found found interesting Lent stops on route. Depends if we hit these towns at the right time.

          2. rworange Mar 3, 2010 05:57 PM

            Someone who doesn't follow Chowhound sent me this email "I found it and had some lunch today. They were so AWESOME! I ordered the x-burgeur, little dry. But that's my fault, I didn't add the mayo supplied with the lunch. While I was waiting the cook guy fried me up 2 flaky pillows with shredded chicken, corn and cream cheese. Offered me house-made habanero cream sauce which was absolutely perfect in every way. They were so kind and so gracious, I'll be back. I have no idea what most of the menu offers, so I figure I'll just start ordering everything and see where it lands me. Mostly Brazilians in there too, very impressive. Thank you for the heads up! "

            1. rworange Mar 4, 2010 09:08 AM

              Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness !!! ... !!!

              I literally packed up my pc because this is the heavy moving day and despite having less than no time, i had to pull out the pc and post about this

              Stopped by to pick up breakfast and they had HOT SUGARED TWISTED CRULLERS !!!

              The difference is the dough isn't sweet like American crullers

              Decided to try the caldo de cana (sugar cane juice) He pulls out a sugar cane, hacks it to pieces and runs it through a cane juicer. Lovely stuff and not too sweet

              i was also gifted with a carrot cake. It wasn't the american version but like a muffin ... and it was still hot from the oven. Terrific. It reminded me of those tiny Portuguese cakes whose namese escape me right now, the most known being the little egg custard type. Maybe Melanie or someone knows the name. This however was muffin sized.

              The real reason I wanted to stop by one more time was to watch one of the pasteles being made. I almost missed the action while blissing over the cruller.

              He pulls out a square of dough, adds the filling, folds the dough over it, uses a pastry cutter to make it turnover shape, crimps the edges and puts it in the fryer

              The guava and cheese was lovely with nice slices of guava

              1 Reply
              1. re: rworange
                heidipie Mar 4, 2010 09:26 AM

                We love you rw! You are stalwart, you are intrepid, you are peerless! We will raise our rw flag high and do you proud! Please let us know when we can start to read your blog!

              2. rworange Mar 6, 2010 09:11 PM

                Took a friend who was helping us pack. He scolded me that he was probably going to gain weight now that he knew about this place he would have to stop often.

                New things I tried
                - Bean soup
                - Avocado smoothie
                - Pineapple pastele
                - Chicken esfirra

                I was hoping my friend could try the corn and chicken soup, but it sold out and only bean was left. We both agreed it was very good

                It is a thin soup with a few beans, pieces of bacon and a few pieces of hot dog. Very tasty. It comes with two slices of house-made white bread which was soft wonderfulness.

                The avocado smoothie was very pleasant ... not too sweet, creamy with a light avocado flavor.

                The chicken esfirra, a warm, bready turnover filled with shredded chicken and creamy catupery was quite good. I think I prefer the beef, but you can't go wrong with either.

                The pineapple pastele with cheese, fresh pinapple and brown sugar was good. All are good but my favorite is banana, followed by guava and then the pineapple

                1. rworange Mar 9, 2010 03:41 AM

                  My last visit Monday. We are all cleared for the drive to Guatamala on Wednesday morning ... and what really kills me is we will be probably eating oranges Roberto bought on a street corner, Raleys bananas and probably some homeade sandwiches. Ah well, I suppose there are other adventures along the highway other than restaurants ... I mean sheesh ... I have littlbe baggies of oatmeal and raisins packed up for breakfast.

                  So I thouroughly enjoyed my last nosh at Smart Coffee. I had

                  - caldo verde
                  - Brazilian cheese bread
                  - dulce de leche pastele

                  Some of us have grand goals in life. For me it was trying all the soups and sweet pasteles at Smart Coffee. Mission accomplished ... and in my case it was

                  They make nice soups. All are great. The caldo verde in a chicken broth had, well, greens and carrots, potatos and Brazilian sausage pieces. The corn and chicken remains my favorite but it is almost a dead heat in this race.

                  The dulce de leche is lovely here. Like all the sweet pasteles there is also oozy mild melted cheese. Though it is not excessively sweet, that is still more dulce de leche than I can handlehe

                  Again almost a tie, but banana remains my favorite follow by guava (and cheese ... mmmmm), then pineapple and finally the dulce de leche.

                  The cheese bread is almost like the place in San Rafael, really large. Maybe half a baseball size. It is a little breadier and crustier than the SR place on 4th st ... can't remember the name ... no time to search. This reheated the best of all the cheese breads I've tried.

                  Adios, Smart Coffee ... you were a nice 11th hour find.

                  1. rworange Jun 13, 2010 04:20 PM

                    I see The Examiner finally picked up on this joint
                    http://www.examiner.com/x-12122-SF-Et...

                    When are Chowhounds FINALLY going to give this place a try?>

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