A few years ago, Eater announced the impending arrival of Rodrigo Oliveira into a planned Hollywood restaurant. The star Brazilian chef, who founded Mocotó and Balaio IMS in the outer São Paolo neighborhood of Vila Medeiros, was supposed to open in 2018 with restaurateur Bill Chait before the project fizzled out. Chait is now bringing Oliveira and his business partner Victor Vasconcellos into the former Church and State space in the Arts District. Recall that Chait had grand plans for the place, partnering with chef David Féau in June 2019 for a Church and State revival that only lasted a few months before it closed in November of the same year. Chait later teased that he would turn the space into another outlet of Chengdu Taste, though clearly that didn’t pan out either.
Now, Chait brings another restaurant into the seminal Arts District space. Oliveira and Vasconellos will open Caboco with Chait in September 2021 serving Brazilian tavern classics served at Mocotó, like calf’s foot soup (mocofava), salgadinhos (fried savory snacks), dadinhos de tapioca (cubed cheese and tapioca), and moqueca de caju (cashew stew). The menu could be mostly unfamiliar to LA diners, many of whom would know things like churrasco, pão de quiejo, feijoada, and maybe even skewers. But Caboco promises to be the first modern Brazilian restaurant to open in Los Angeles, with the deep knowledge of homestyle Brazilian fare prepared in a professional kitchen setting. Other dishes include carne de sol, salt-cured beef with roasted garlic and biquinho peppers; and pirarucu (Amazonian fish in cassava juice).
Drinks also take a heavy turn toward modern Brazilian cocktail culture, with caipirinhas and artisanal cachaça that will be mixed with locally sourced fruit like passionfruit, citrus, and grapes. Bartender Marcus Ragas, formerly of the Chestnut Club in Santa Monica, will spearhead the drinks.
Oliveira first opened Mocotó in Vila Medeiros with his father, Zé Almeida, garnering praise locally and internationally, earning a spot on the Latin America 50 Best list. Despite getting opportunities to open in flashier parts of São Paulo and even other locations in the world, Oliveira remained committed to the working-class suburb, training locals and building community for the long haul. Over the past year, he formed a collective called Quebrada Alimentada, a self-financed organization that helped serve over 80,000 meals during the pandemic. It’s unclear whether he’ll have the same initiative here in Los Angeles, with a prime location in Arts District, but the chef sees a lot of similarities between São Paulo and LA, their urban expanses and diverse cultures.
Prior to Bill Chait’s turn at the Church and State space, it was under the ownership of Tony Esnault and Yassmin Sarmadi before the French bistro closed abruptly in 2019. Its opening chef in 2008 was current République and Bicyclette chef/owner Walter Manzke, who helped launch the Arts District as a bona fide dining destination.