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'The weekend is crazy': An insider guide to the best Brazilian food in Dublin, from feijoada to coxinhas

On Moore Street, a restaurant is hotly tipped by Brazilians for an authentic taste of home.

Crown Alley in Temple Bar, home of Cafe Mineiro
Crown Alley in Temple Bar, home of Cafe Mineiro
Image: Shutterstock

THERE WAS A blow to Dublin’s thriving Brazilian community a couple of months ago with the closure of the 3 Spirits Bar and Grill at the top of Capel Street.

3 Spirits served up traditional Brazilian food, had a full bar and played pop and rock music hits from Brazil and it showed the big sports events from home too. So it will be sorely missed this summer, says Juliana Neves, a shop assistant in the Real Brasil shop on Capel Street.

“3 Spirits was very famous,” she says. “They had music and a bar, as well as Brazilian food, and I liked to go there and listen to salsa.”

Since that closure she hasn’t heard of anywhere else that has filled that space for the Brazilian community. “Many people were very sad,” she says.

While the bar is a big loss it is certainly not all doom and gloom for Brazilians living in Dublin, where there are now numerous food outlets, including cafes, shops and restaurants, scattered across the city centre where Brazilians can enjoy a taste of home.

Padoca

The most recent addition to the scene is Padoca, a Brazilian bakery on Bolton Street, which launched in April this year. 

“It’s a new place and it’s getting popular,” says Juliana De Oliveira, who works in hospitality and is studying English. Padoca do all the sweet and savoury baked treats she loves from home. “You can find coxinha and tapioca, both the sweet and salty ones,” she says.

Coxinhas are tear-dropped shaped savoury snacks filled with shredded chicken and cheese. They can be eaten at any time of day, says Neves – the shop also sells coxinhas and people get very upset if they don’t have any left.

Padoca also serves sandwiches, a variety of cakes and sweet treats and of course the cheesy bread that Brazilians love.

 Cafe Mineiro

“I really like to go to Café Mineiro in Temple Bar,” says Neves, who has been living in Dublin for a year. She is kept busy studying English as well as working in the Real Brasil shop, so sometimes when she is tired or doesn’t feel like cooking she heads over the Grattan Bridge and makes her way along the cobblestone streets of Temple Bar to the popular Café Mineiro in Crown Alley. 

She often orders rice with black beans and that comes mixed with a variety of other things, perhaps sausages, garlic and egg, she suggests. 

Neves loves the way the chefs at Cafe Mineiro cook the food because it tastes exactly like it would back in Brazil. “It reminds me of home and I get nostalgic,” she says.

Among the most popular foods, she sells in the shop are beans and rice, coffee, sweets, farofa (toasted cassava or corn flour mixture) and meat. 

The meat is Irish but the cut is Brazilian, she explains.  Brazilian people living in Dublin often host barbecues and so they come into the shop to buy beef and sausages to serve with garlic bread, farofa, and salads.

Won’t they be deterred from barbecuing by the wet weather though?

“I don’t think so,” she says laughing. “Even when the weather is not sunny lots of people come in to buy meat for a barbecue on their day off.

“They still want to invite their friends and have some beers.”

Other spots she hears tipped by friends and customers include the Wasabi Bar and Grill on Dorset Street, which is run by a Brazilian lady and the Fusion Grill on North Lotts Street, she says. 

Further up Capel Street, in Mercado Brasileiro, Manuala Bannitz Coleo is working. She thinks that the most popular Brazilian restaurant in Dublin is Sabor Nordestino, in the Moore Street Mall, she says. 

Sabor Nordestino

Once you hop on that escalator, going down from the historic market in Moore Street, you find yourself transported into a global array of food businesses, appearing to hail from the four corners of the earth.

Being part of that cornucopia of food is great as it helps to attract customers from lots of other places, as well as from Brazil, says head chef and joint owner Messias Santana, a tall well-built man with big brown eyes wearing a chef’s uniform.

“We have Irish, Polish, Romanians, people from everywhere – Japanese, Chinese, it is very nice,” says Santana, sitting on a red chair at a white table in his restaurant which is decorated with bunting and paper lanterns.

It is just after lunchtime on a recent Monday and Sabor Nordestino is busy with around 20 customers tucking into plates of food. It was busier earlier though,  says Santana smiling.”The weekend is crazy, which is good.”

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Iniciando as férias

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Glancing at the plates the most popular meal appears to be the steak.

“The best is the steak, we have two types, a sirloin and a rump steak, the rump is the most popular in Brazil,” he says.

Irish people think the rump is tough, but Brazilians cut it differently and once you do that it isn’t tough at all, he claims. The Irish butchers are cutting the meat wrong and rump is actually a very good cut, he says.

The steak is €12 and is served with rice, Brazilian beans, salad, and fries. “It’s a huge plate,” he says.

Also popular is the Brazilian style chicken parmigiana – deep fried chicken with tomato sauce, ham and cheese melted on. “It’s very popular, people love it.”

Every Saturday, Santana prepares a special dish, sometimes from different regions of Brazil. He lets his regular customers know on Facebook and Instagram, what the special will be a couple of days in advance.

“The most famous one is called feijoada,” says Santana. “It’s made with black beans, sausage, pork loin, bacon, pork feet, pork ears and then we serve it with rice, salad and farofa.” He says he gets lots of requests for the feijoada and does it very regularly. 

Another regional dish that has proved popular is the acarajé, which comes from the Bahia region, he says. “We make a cake from the beans, fry it in palm oil and serve with shrimp.”

The Moqueca fish is another speciality. “We cook the fish in coconut milk, with fresh peppers, coriander, and onions. When the fish is cooked, we add king prawns and it is amazing,” he says.

“Then a drop of palm oil to add colour and flavouring and people go mad,” he says laughing. 

Of course, there are a variety of sweet treats too. 

The restaurant is open seven days a week and while Santana tries to take two days off that doesn’t always happen.

He admits he is a bit of a perfectionist and can be tough on his staff because he is determined to keep the quality consistent. 

“We have been here for more than three years and people say that the quality and the taste is still the same,” says Santana. “That is because I’m always here.”

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