The Best Brazilian Restaurants In LA guide image


The Best Brazilian Restaurants In LA

7 spots for churrasco feasts, feijoada, and strong caipirinhas.

LA may be home to the largest Brazilian community on the West Coast, but its food is still relatively underrepresented. OK, sure, your local mall has a Brazilian steakhouse that you went to after your sister’s high school graduation, but churrasco is only scratching the surface. Dishes from South America's largest country take influence from Italian, Lebanese, Portuguese, and African cuisines, which means Brazilian food can be anything from pizza to fried kibbeh doused in lime juice. So whether you’re on the hunt for feijoada, a hunk of beef, or a box of brigadeiro to eat in bed, check out these seven Brazilian restaurants across LA.

The Spots

Pampas Grill Churrascaria

Pampas is one of the most popular stalls at the Original Farmers Market, which means there will be 50-person lines during the weekend lunch rush. That’s definitely not ideal, but the hype will make sense once you lock eyes with the glistening, rotating spits of Brazilian barbecue. Pampas is a “kilo” style spot, so you’re paying by the weight of your plate rather than a set price. It sounds economical until you’re met with a buffet of sweet plantains, feijoada, creamy Brazilian stroganoff, and collard greens sauteed with liberal amounts of garlic. The smoked pork and beef in the feijoada are tender enough to cut with a plastic spoon, and you can pair this hearty stew with salty linguiça and fat-capped picanha.

If you agree that bossa nova and crisp caipirinhas sound like the making of a sexy little night out, head to Nossa Caipirinha Bar. This dimly lit restaurant in Los Feliz has a spacious sidewalk patio where you can lounge outside with cocktails, and they host a weekly vinyl night featuring DJs spinning Brazilian funk and tropicalia tracks. Nossa has also mastered the "drink and a light bite" formula, so you can spend the night snacking on pillowy pão de queijo and creamy coxinhas with a side of spicy biquinho pepper mayo for dipping. These plates are hearty but definitely on the small side, so split the moqueca on sweet coconut rice with the table if you need something a bit more substantial.

Not only is this one of few Brazilian steakhouses in town that doesn't rhyme with "pogo de wow," M Grill is also the best. This upscale Koreatown restaurant serves an AYCE dinnertime meat palooza for $70 per person, which, based on the amount of high-quality beef you're ingesting, is a great deal. M Grill might seem stuffy with its dark booths and floor-to-ceiling wine walls, but it doesn’t feel like an exclusive club for people wearing suits and nice watches. Date nights and birthday dinners take place next to family outings where a hyperactive five-year-old bangs a spoon against the table. Meanwhile, you're focused on the 18 cuts of sizzling meat in constant rotation, like juicy lamb chops, thick slices of medium-rare filet mignon, and picanha with blistered fat caps. You can ditch the mixed greens and blanched asparagus at the salad bar, but try the feijoada because it's pretty good here.

Hidden in the back of Culver City's El Camaguey Meat Market is Cantinho Brasileiro, a small counter that sells salgadinhos. These salty finger foods are the entourage every cold beer deserves. They come either baked or fried, and filled with meat, seafood, or creamy catupiry that’s something in between cream cheese and melted provolone. This window has a small menu with chicken and cheese-stuffed coxinhas, Brazilian-style kibbeh that calls for a splash of hot sauce, and crispy pasteis full of ground beef and olives. Salgadinhos make for a great midday snack, but feel free to order a bunch to go and eat them on your couch. 

Eating excellent churrasco on the street is as Brazilian as it gets. From Thursday to Sunday, Brazilian BBQ sets up a huge rotisserie grill outside a West LA Trader Joes where you’ll find juicy picanha, linguiça that snaps when you bite in, and queijo coalho, a salty Brazilian cheese that gets grilled on a stick until it’s soft like a hot cheese curd. You'll see a few chairs set up on the sidewalk where you can enjoy a meat plate with feijoada and rice on the side or a drippy picanaha sandwich on ciabatta that oozes mozzarella.

Cafe Brasil is a Culver City institution that’s been serving its all-day menu for over 30 years. Mornings include freshly squeezed passion fruit juice, strong Brazilian coffee that makes your neck hairs jolt up, and soft scrambled eggs hugging sides of sweet plantains and collard greens. By the time lunch rolls around at this cafe, there's usually a soccer game on TV, Brazilian exchange students filing in for fried, beef-stuffed pastels, and the sandwich press toasting up juicy linguiça sandwiches. But what makes Café Brasil so special is its significance for Brazilians in Los Angeles, who use this spot for a quick salgadinho pit-stop or to spend a whole afternoon chit-chatting over a cafezinho.

Having Maya’s Brigadeiro in the fridge really comes in handy during those 1am moments when all you want in life is a “little something sweet." This Sherman Oaks shop sells brigadeiro—sweet, bite-sized truffles made from condensed milk and butter—in traditional variations like coconut and chocolate. We like to mix and match with Maya’s seasonal flavors, like a tangy passion fruit white chocolate and chocolate pistachio that tones down the sugary sweetness with its salty crunch. They come in boxes by the dozen, or go wild and swap out your usual pint of Haagen Daz for a jar of brigadeiro spread.

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photo credit: Andrea D'Agosto

The Best Brazilian Restaurants In LA guide image