Get the Farofa Outta Here: Café Brasil, Santa Cruz

If you’ve always wanted to go to Brazil, but don’t have the funds to fly to South America, Café Brasil is the next best thing.  With its brightly colored façade, banana tree, palm trees, and coterie of Brazilian expats cooking and serving the food, one can easily imagine one’s self south of the equator.  In fact, our friends Daniel (from the state of Bahia) and Gisele (from the state of Sao Paulo) bring their mothers here for the Feijoada.  The in-laws then proceed to argue over the use of Farofa, as its application varies wildly over the country.  There is one thing that the mothers do agree on, which is the quality of the Feijoada.  Both say it is almost as good as what they make at home.

Café Brasil is only open from 8am-3pm, so it only serves breakfast and lunch.  Although, if you get the Feijoada Completa, you might only need one meal.  The Feijoada is a heavy, slow-cooked stew that’s filled with black beans, beef and two types of sausage.  It becomes “completa” when you get rice, greens, chopped tomatoes and plantains served on the side.  You can then decide what your favorite mix of ingredients is and whether or not you’re a fan of Farofa.

Since Café Brasil is so close to UCSC, you can expect a wait if you arrive around brunch-time on weekends.  Luckily, you can grab a cup of coffee to enjoy while waiting.  If you’re not into waiting, you can order your meal online and take it over to the ocean for a spectacular picnic.

John: I love the Feijoada, but there are some days it’s just too much, luring me back to sleep in the middle of the day.  When I’m not in the mood for the Feijoada, I have the banana pancakes, which are some of the best pancakes I’ve tasted (and served with real maple syrup).  If not pancakes, then Beef a Cavalo.  This is the Brazilian take on steak and eggs, which is far superior to the often-rubbery steak and watery eggs of other establishments.  Here, they poach the eggs and serve them over a delicious 6-8 oz. steak covered with mozzarella and sitting on a baguette.  You will be hard pressed to go wrong here, especially if you are in need of a major energy boost.  The coffee is delicious and super-caffeinated, and if you so desire, you can buy a bag to take home.  The Acai bowl is a kick-in-the-rear way to get your day started.  It’s a bowl of Acai smoothie (Acai, mixed fruits and guarana) topped with granola and sliced fruit.  The stimulants in the smoothie get you started and the granola holds you over for the day.  Can you tell I like the place?

Lesley: Brasil is awesome!  I have taken so many out of town friends here and they all love it.  Some friends still tell me they crave their strong coffee.  The Acai Bowl is totally unique and tasty.  They also have the best banana pancakes.  The only problem with Brasil is that there are so many great dishes that you can’t eat all of them in one visit so you have to strategize your ordering plan by sharing some things with a friend.

Zach: The people at this place definitely pay attention to detail as far as the food is concerned.  The coffee is strong and the omelette’s are good.  The pancakes are ok but nothing great.  I’m not a big fan of the Brazilian food personally because I think it’s bland.  Brazilian food is not spiced very much so if you like bland bean and meat dishes you would love this place.  I’m also disappointed with the choice of cheese for the sandwiches which is mozzarella, the least flavorful cheese of the cheese world but at least they stay consistent with the blandness.  At least give me some provolone or something.  The good items here are the Acai Bowl if you don’t mind the calories or the omelette’s.  It is a well run business and I give them points for that and it’s nice to have a slight variation of American diner food as an alternative choice for breakfast.

2 comments… add one
  • UPDATE: Our Brazilian friends gave me more information on Feijoada, which I want to pass on.

    Feijoada was originally created by the African slaves who used to receive the leftover parts of the pig such as feet, ears, and nose, and put it to cook with beans. Nowadays, most people use smoked pork loin, Portuguese sausages and some fancier parts, but there are many people who still cook with the original ingredients.

  • Ben Link

    I live in San Jose, but the Acai Bowls at Cafe Brasil are so good that I’ll often make the 30-40 minute drive down to Santa Cruz just to have one. Yep, they’re that good.

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