I went to Coachella for the first time and as a rookie, wound up discovering many do’s and don’ts. Even though I got lucky enough…
Here is a collection of nine dishes you MUST try on your trip to Brazil. Dining in Brazil isn’t just about eating, but about the culinary experience ahead. Whether you’re grabbing x at a gas station or hitting up a churasscaria (Brazilian BBQ), we’ve got you covered on the can’t miss dishes.
1. Moqueca (pronounced MO‧que
Not trying to play favorites here but Moqueca wasn’t number one on this list by accident. This fish stew is an explosion of flavor thanks to the blend of onions, garlic, bell pepper, dendê (West African red palm oil) and coconut milk. I’d say for those of you that like the Thai dish Tom Kha Kai, you’ll also be big fan of this proper Northeast Brazilian specialty. Served best with rice.
Pro Tip: Make sure to have some farofa (sautéed manioc flour meal) with this dish. It’s a whole grain that adds a savory crunch to your dish and helps to soak up some of the stew with a delicious consistency. A lot of dishes in Brazil will come with a scope of Farofa on the side.
2. Caipirinha de Maracujá (pronounced KAI‧pi‧rien‧ya de mara‧KOO‧ja)
Caipirnha is the signature cocktail of Brazil and Maracuja (passion fruit) might as well be the signature fruit. Now when these two come together, it’s chemistry like no other, especially considering the fact that you make it with Cachaça (Brazilian rum, the alternative would be vodka which means you’d order a Caiprioska).
PRO TIP: Make sure to order your Caiprinha by saying “pouco açucar, por favor! (“little sugar, please!)” in order to avoid the pitfalls–and hangover excesses–of the typical Brazilian craze for sugar.
3. Churasscaria Experience
It’s not a proper trip to Brazil if you don’t go eat at one of the local Churasscarias (barbecue buffets). This is your classic Brazilian BBQ. Churasscarias are set up similarly to a Fogo de Chão experience (a Brazilian restaurant stateside that you may have tried). But the meat in Brazil is famous for being grassfed, more succulent, and distinctively flavorful. You will go to a bar for appetizers and salads, flip a coaster for more meat as you please, and sweat your heart out!
Pro Tip #1: Make sure to try the Picanha Churassco, this is the Cow’s rump and one of the most delicious parts! It is rare so you usually have to ask for it.
Pro Tip #2: Add some farofa to your meat and you can thank me later.
4. Empadão de Frango
Empadão, which literally means, “big pastry,” is a country-style pie filled with deliciously seasoned shredded chicken. This is a staple item you can find at many bakeries, cafes, gas stations. Order one of these to share with a friend or two. It can get filling fast!
Pro Tip: An alternative to this is Coxinha de Frango – a deep fried tear drop-shaped pastry stuffed with the same shredded chicken, which you can also find at the hot item section in some delis and other pitstops throughout Brazil.
This tapioca crepe can be thought of sort of in the vein of a pancake, especially when commonly enjoyed during breakfast with eggs. An alternative to bread or wheat-based breakfast carbs, it can be served many other ways as well with sweet or savory fillings—in the morning or even as a late-night snack! The shell is made of tapioca flower and has a chewy consistency. There isn’t much flavor to the tapioca itself, it’s more about the combination of the tapioca and the filling.
This Northeast Brazilian street snack is a favorite of those that enjoy spicy food! Acarajé is most commonly found in Bahia and is full of seafront flavors. Similar to the moqueca, this dish is cooked in Northeast Brazil’s famous dendê oil. Peeled black eyed peas mashed into a paste with garlic and salt are fried into a fritter, cut open piping hot to be filled with raw shrimps, diced tomatoes, vatapá (a shrimp-based bread porridge made with cashew nuts) and a savory and spicy pepper paste that brings the dish all together. Think of this as the Northeastern Brazilian equivalent of a taco, drench in local hot sauce, and scarf… YUM!
7. Açai –
You’ve probably had or know of what an açaí (pronounced AH-Sah-EE, not A-KAI!) bowl is. This frozen berry fruit dish can be found on many beaches in Brazil. It is commonly topped with an arrangement of cut fruit and your choice of various toppings (granola, coconut, etc.). One of the best things you can have on a nice hot beach day!
Please, don’t go to Brazil and miss having one of these. This condensed milk chocolate ball is a LIFE CHANGING treat. Pretty much after I had this, every day was about where are we going to find the next best one. Doesn’t sound like anything special but WAIT UNTIL YOU PUT ONE IN YOUR MOUTH AND TASTE THE BRAZILIAN COCOA!
9. Pão de queijo
A classic Brazilian cheese bread. You’ll find these everywhere: at the airport, cafés, gas stations, hotel breakfast bars, etc. Cheese and bread are good anywhere but make sure to eat these warm otherwise for the best experience.