My first experience with Brazilian cuisine was at Fogo de Chão in Houston long before they opened one in Austin. I was torturously hooked: addictive meat and salad bar galore, but inconveniently expensive. Being a poor college and now graduate student, I've only eaten once at Estancia Churrascaria and haven't had a chance to visit Fogo de Chão in Austin.
I managed to satisfy my Brazilian cravings without the amazing meats by buying packets of Yoki brand pão de queijo mixes at Ana Brasil.
I wrongly assumed that churrascaria and pão de queijo sum up Brazilian cuisine. Rio's Brazilian Cafe introduced me to a whole other side of Brazilian food, and I willingly devoured everyting they had to offer.
Rio's Brazilian Cafe
Chef Elias Martins and partner Ben Googins started Rio's Brazilian in 2006 making all-natural Brazilian packaged products from their cafe kitchen. You can find Rio's Brazilian products at Whole Foods, Spec's, Ana Brasil, or on the internet at Foodzie.com, but you can also visit their cafe in East Austin to experience a cozy, home-style breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
I went beverage crazy and sampled mango and passion fruit juices as well as Guarana, a Brazilian soda. I recommend all of them, though that's not surprising since I love all kinds of tropical fruit juices. The Guarana stands out because you won't find it at many restaurants (though I'm sure you can buy it at Ana Brasil). It has a lightly sweetened taste without the slimey corn syrup after-taste of American sodas.
(starting from left) Mango Juice, Passion Fruit Juice, and Guarana
What truly sets Rio's Brazilian Cafe apart from other Brazilian venues is its specialization in Brazilian savory pastries. I tried the Chicken Risoli, Beef & Corn Pastel, and the Brazilian Breakfast Pocket. The fillings ingredients were fresh and well-seasoned and the pastry was flakey and not at all greasy. Being able to see and recognize all the filling ingredients is a testament to the quality of food you're getting. You can still decipher all the filling ingredients from the shaky photos I took!
Chicken Risoli, Beef & Corn Pastel, and the Brazilian Breakfast Pocket