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Bahian fish stew with rice and beans at Sabor da Bahia.
Bahian fish stew with rice and beans at Sabor da Bahia
Wonho Frank Lee

13 Stellar Places to Eat Brazilian Food in Los Angeles

From prato feito to grilled meats to açai across Southern California

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Bahian fish stew with rice and beans at Sabor da Bahia
| Wonho Frank Lee

Since first emerging in the area of Palms and Culver City in the mid 80’s, Brazilian restaurants in Los Angeles have slowly added to the scene, from the handful of lanchonetes (lunch counters) that introduced LA to picanha plates, feijoada, and coxinhas, to the Beverly Hills location Fogo de Chao in 2005. LA doesn’t have the robust Brazilian populations that’ve fueled the vibrant restaurant scenes in Miami-Dade, NYC’s Little Brazil; Somerville, MA; Philadelphia; or New Jersey.

The foundation of Brazilian cuisine and dining culture is manioc or cassava, but specifically farinha de mandioca (manioc flour), which is either served raw on the table, or toasted to make farofa. It’s used both to dust stews, and as a side with meats for starchy, gritty goodness. Farofa, included in prato feito (shortened as PF, meaning a complete meal), is piled on a tin plate to the ceiling at lanchonetes, and botecos (pubs) in Brazil. In Somerville it’s reduced to a small bowl’s worth, but here in Los Angeles, one might be lucky to get a jello shot cup’s worth, due to the fact the Brazilians must buy the stuff at retail price. Imagine getting a quarter of a tortilla to eat a bowl of birria de chivo, or eating a spicy Xiang-style dish with a thimble of rice. Lesson here is, have an ample amount of farofa with your Brazilian meal.

Today Los Angeles counts a variety of successful churracarias, acai spots, lanchonetes, regional specialists like Oxnard’s Moqueca, Brazilian markets, pizzerias, por kilos (food by the kilo) places, and even an espetinhos (skewers) restaurant in its landscape of Brazilian restaurants. Whether enjoying salgadinhos (savories) with suco de cupuaçu (Amazonian fruit), snacking on Bahian acaraje (black eyed pea fritters), lunching on a prato feito de luxo (luxurious meal combo) like virado à paulista (Sao Paulo’s monday combo plate), or starting your evening of rodizio de carnes (Brazilian AYCE steakhouse) with a couple of caipirinhas (National Brazilian cachaça-based cocktail), here is your guide to the best Brazilian cuisine in LA. Bom apetite, galera. (Restaurants are listed from west to east)

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Moqueca Brazilian Restaurant

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Chef Tatiana Favoretto opened California’s first regional Brazilian restaurant in 2008, serving the iconic seafood stew, moqueca capixaba, given its distinct orange color from urucum (annatto seeds), from the state of Espirtu Santo, and served in heavy panelas de barro (clay pots). Non-Brazilian diners have watered down the experience but we’ve got a hack for you. Head to the Thousand Oaks branch, and call in an order of pirâo (seafood stock thickened with manioc flour) directly to chef Favoretto — she can do it if she’s there, her cooks can’t.

Order the rich, zesty lobster moqueca for two, which comes with white rice, and ask for a double side order of farofa, pimenta (hot sauce), then lay it all out on the table with the off-menu pirâo. Add rice to the plate, spoon over the moqueca, pirâo, and sprinkle farofa over the liquid. Then add some pimenta and a couple more rounds of caipifrutas de maracujá (passionfruit caipirinhas).

The Brazilian Taste

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Mineiros Bruno and Vanessa Oliveira are serving Brazilian street foods like pasteís, coxinhas, and pâo de queijo that are ubiquitous at quiosques, lanchonetes, and other types of restaurants, but they also specialize in a couple of lesser known savory snacks. Efihas are popular Lebanese inspired flat pastries covered in cheese and herbs or ground meat. The real gems here though are thick slices of torta de frango ou palmitos, shredded chicken or heart of palm pies, which are comforting family favorites sold during evenings at street stands in Brazil, usually with a wide selection of mouthwatering savory pies and opulent, sweet cakes.

Brazilian BBQ

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When Angelenos think Brazilian barbecue, they might think of images of gaúchos armed with luxurious cuts of sizzling meat pierced by sharp skewers. But the most common churrasco shared by Brazilians is in backyards, and from churrasqueiras (street grills) serving espetinhos, or skewers. Head to Fernada, Watson, and Ana Clara Martins’ Brazilian cookout in West LA and order barbecued picanha, Angus beef, or bacon-wrapped chicken plates. Request an order of garlic bread blackened on the grill and imagine yourself having a quick bite at the 25 de Março street fair in Sâo Paulo, or grabbing espetinhos with family on Rio’s Copacabana Beach.  

Cantinho Brasileiro

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Since 2012, Edu Moreira’s busy lanchonete kitchen, tightly packed in behind a Dutch door and a closet at the deli counter at the Camaguey Market, has been delivering hearty prato feito carbo bombs that hard working Brazilians in LA’s Palms neighborhood miss back home. The bife à Parmegiana is swimming in tomato sauce and melted cheese, with a nice pile of white rice, and fried polenta, and the feijuca (playful name for feijoada) completa, is a hefty bean and meat stew. The salgadinhos like their coxinha com catupiry (chicken croquette with Brazilian cheese spread) are superb, as are the well-filled Brazilian street food classics like pasteís (pastries), jam packed with ham and cheese, or ground beef. 

Sabor da Bahia

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For more than a decade, Reni Silva and Ilma have been selling acarajé (black eyed pea fritters), abará (black eyed pea paste steamed in banana leaves), moqueca (seafood stew), and other baiana foods from the northeastern state of Bahia in Brazil. You’ll catch them at all Brazilian events big and small, and taking to-go orders from their Palms apartment. The dishes are floral-scented and colored reddish-orange by aceite de dendê (palm frond oil), a condiment brought over from West Africa, and an essential part of comida baiana (Bahian cuisine).

Brazilian fried pasties with meat filling on a white plate.
Brazilian fried pasties at Sabor da Bahia
Wonho Frank Lee

Panelas Brazil Cuisine

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The biggest frustration we’ve all had eating Brazilian food in LA has been the absence of liquor licenses, depriving us of one of the greatest happy hour cultures on Earth. Tables covered in ice cold beers sipped from small glasses, shots of cachaça, and caipirinhas full of citrus and fresh fruit are all part of that drinking culture. Gaúcha (person from Rio Grande do Sul) cook, Marcia Delima, has answered our prayers, offering beer and caipirinhas to drink with generous PF’s like carne de panela (beef stew), pratos executivos (meat with sides) with picanha, seafood, and their famous virado à paulista — a lavish meal of beans, rice, pork, fried egg, banana, and collard greens. Ask for a beer, bem gelada (ice cold), and enjoy the thrill of a real boteco in LA.

Carne de panelas from Panela’s Brazilian Cuisine
Carne de panelas
Wonho Frank Lee

Brazilian Plate House

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If you’re wondering about the LA Brazilian restaurateurs fascination with the word plate, it’s all about the culture of prato feito, which is the specialty at this over-the-top Brazilian themed A-frame building in Torrance. As in botecos and lanchonetes in Brazil, there are different plates for each day of the week. Tuesdays it’s plump panquecas de carne ou frango (beef or chicken crepes), and of course, every Wednesdays and Saturdays are for feijoada. All plates come with beans, white rice, fries or batata palha (stick fries), including the pratos executivos (meat plate combos). There’s lots of petiscos (bar snacks) for when that liquor license comes through.

Pampas Grill Churrascaria

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The Original Farmer’s Market branch of this wildly popular por kilo (weighed by the kilo) stand was likely the first viral Brazilian restaurant in Los Angeles for barbecue served with salads, hot dishes, and desserts. No one ever left here without overstacking their plates with picanha (sirloin cap), frango com bacon (bacon-wrapped chicken, and linguiça, maionese (potato salad), chunks of squishy heart of palm, beans, rice, and fried bananas approved by LA’s Brazilian community. 

Acai Republic

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Nine years ago, Brazilian jiu jitsu teacher Adriano Nasal opened his first branch of this fast growing chain, modeled after shops you’ll find all over Brazil, like the trendy Açai Concept, neighborhood hangouts for nutritious açai na tigela (açai bowls), tropical juices, and salgadinhos (savories). There are six açai blends to choose from like in Sâo Paulo: açai, guaraná, banana, or the sweeter Madly Mango, plus a pitaya base and an açai-chia pudding blend with select toppings. This very Brazilian-style açai chain was inevitable with the high demand Angelenos have for açai and growing interest in Brazilian cuisine. 

M Grill

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With its modern translucent stone nightclub bar, an extensive baller wine list of premier cru Bordeaux and Napa Valley cabs, and sleek, seamless textured granite walls, LA’s best Brazilian churrascaria is as much a Koreatown destination as it is Brazilian steakhouse. Boasting twenty different steak cuts, as well as other meats, the consistency and service here are why this place is always packed. And what the place lacks in Brazilian feel, the chicken hearts more than make up for it. Turn your churrascaria card to green and go.

Ubatuba Açaí

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Owner Daniela Demetrio, whose family hails from Ubatuba, Sâo Paulo — a lovely beach town three hours east of Brazil’s largest city — opened the first branch of her soon-to-be 18-unit açai chain (by June 2021) back in 2014, inspired by her grandmother’s love of the Amazonian berry as a healthy, delicious treat at the end of the day. Each month a container arrives from Pará filled with the Demetrio’s açai base, blended from berries near the city of Belém for her signature bowls, bursting with tropical fruit flavors — grainy and as intense as you’ll find anywhere in Brazil.

H&H Brazilian Steakhouse

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After managing the DTLA Fogo de Châo, Brazilian-born restaurateur Henrique Heyer has introduced LA to the sleek, modern churrascaria one would expect to find in the upscale São Paulo neighborhood of Itaim Bibi. Leather banquettes, contemporary light fixtures and dark wood panel walls go well with premium picanha, maminha (tri-tip), and succulent lamb chops paired with organic wines from South America. The only flaw is the limited salad bar, but the caipifrutas (caipirinhas with different fruit) are a sweet consolation here at LA’s most ambitious new Brazilian steakhouse.

WoodSpoon

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Chef Natalia Pereira has reimagined the boteco (pub) at her Bohemian, storefront space in DTLA, into a warm neighborhood gathering of regulars that come for her famous empadão de frango (chicken pot pie), selection of salgadinhos (savories) served with her magical green sauce, and a trio of dishes from her home state of Minas Gerais, like feijão tropeiro (trooper bean). Her feijão tropeiro comes deconstructed, and her PF’s, called grelhas, come as grilled meat plates with beans, rice, farofa (toasted manioc flour), couve (collard greens), and vinagrete (tomato and onion sauce). It’s simple, delicious Brazilian food with homemade sangrias beloved by fans of the hostess and chef of this dinner party. 

Various Brazilian dishes at Wood Spoon on decorated plates, sangria, and wine bottles.
Brazilian dishes at Wood Spoon
Wonho Frank Lee

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Moqueca Brazilian Restaurant

Chef Tatiana Favoretto opened California’s first regional Brazilian restaurant in 2008, serving the iconic seafood stew, moqueca capixaba, given its distinct orange color from urucum (annatto seeds), from the state of Espirtu Santo, and served in heavy panelas de barro (clay pots). Non-Brazilian diners have watered down the experience but we’ve got a hack for you. Head to the Thousand Oaks branch, and call in an order of pirâo (seafood stock thickened with manioc flour) directly to chef Favoretto — she can do it if she’s there, her cooks can’t.

Order the rich, zesty lobster moqueca for two, which comes with white rice, and ask for a double side order of farofa, pimenta (hot sauce), then lay it all out on the table with the off-menu pirâo. Add rice to the plate, spoon over the moqueca, pirâo, and sprinkle farofa over the liquid. Then add some pimenta and a couple more rounds of caipifrutas de maracujá (passionfruit caipirinhas).

The Brazilian Taste

Mineiros Bruno and Vanessa Oliveira are serving Brazilian street foods like pasteís, coxinhas, and pâo de queijo that are ubiquitous at quiosques, lanchonetes, and other types of restaurants, but they also specialize in a couple of lesser known savory snacks. Efihas are popular Lebanese inspired flat pastries covered in cheese and herbs or ground meat. The real gems here though are thick slices of torta de frango ou palmitos, shredded chicken or heart of palm pies, which are comforting family favorites sold during evenings at street stands in Brazil, usually with a wide selection of mouthwatering savory pies and opulent, sweet cakes.

Brazilian BBQ

When Angelenos think Brazilian barbecue, they might think of images of gaúchos armed with luxurious cuts of sizzling meat pierced by sharp skewers. But the most common churrasco shared by Brazilians is in backyards, and from churrasqueiras (street grills) serving espetinhos, or skewers. Head to Fernada, Watson, and Ana Clara Martins’ Brazilian cookout in West LA and order barbecued picanha, Angus beef, or bacon-wrapped chicken plates. Request an order of garlic bread blackened on the grill and imagine yourself having a quick bite at the 25 de Março street fair in Sâo Paulo, or grabbing espetinhos with family on Rio’s Copacabana Beach.  

Cantinho Brasileiro

Since 2012, Edu Moreira’s busy lanchonete kitchen, tightly packed in behind a Dutch door and a closet at the deli counter at the Camaguey Market, has been delivering hearty prato feito carbo bombs that hard working Brazilians in LA’s Palms neighborhood miss back home. The bife à Parmegiana is swimming in tomato sauce and melted cheese, with a nice pile of white rice, and fried polenta, and the feijuca (playful name for feijoada) completa, is a hefty bean and meat stew. The salgadinhos like their coxinha com catupiry (chicken croquette with Brazilian cheese spread) are superb, as are the well-filled Brazilian street food classics like pasteís (pastries), jam packed with ham and cheese, or ground beef. 

Sabor da Bahia

For more than a decade, Reni Silva and Ilma have been selling acarajé (black eyed pea fritters), abará (black eyed pea paste steamed in banana leaves), moqueca (seafood stew), and other baiana foods from the northeastern state of Bahia in Brazil. You’ll catch them at all Brazilian events big and small, and taking to-go orders from their Palms apartment. The dishes are floral-scented and colored reddish-orange by aceite de dendê (palm frond oil), a condiment brought over from West Africa, and an essential part of comida baiana (Bahian cuisine).

Brazilian fried pasties with meat filling on a white plate.
Brazilian fried pasties at Sabor da Bahia
Wonho Frank Lee

Panelas Brazil Cuisine

The biggest frustration we’ve all had eating Brazilian food in LA has been the absence of liquor licenses, depriving us of one of the greatest happy hour cultures on Earth. Tables covered in ice cold beers sipped from small glasses, shots of cachaça, and caipirinhas full of citrus and fresh fruit are all part of that drinking culture. Gaúcha (person from Rio Grande do Sul) cook, Marcia Delima, has answered our prayers, offering beer and caipirinhas to drink with generous PF’s like carne de panela (beef stew), pratos executivos (meat with sides) with picanha, seafood, and their famous virado à paulista — a lavish meal of beans, rice, pork, fried egg, banana, and collard greens. Ask for a beer, bem gelada (ice cold), and enjoy the thrill of a real boteco in LA.

Carne de panelas from Panela’s Brazilian Cuisine
Carne de panelas
Wonho Frank Lee

Brazilian Plate House

If you’re wondering about the LA Brazilian restaurateurs fascination with the word plate, it’s all about the culture of prato feito, which is the specialty at this over-the-top Brazilian themed A-frame building in Torrance. As in botecos and lanchonetes in Brazil, there are different plates for each day of the week. Tuesdays it’s plump panquecas de carne ou frango (beef or chicken crepes), and of course, every Wednesdays and Saturdays are for feijoada. All plates come with beans, white rice, fries or batata palha (stick fries), including the pratos executivos (meat plate combos). There’s lots of petiscos (bar snacks) for when that liquor license comes through.

Pampas Grill Churrascaria

The Original Farmer’s Market branch of this wildly popular por kilo (weighed by the kilo) stand was likely the first viral Brazilian restaurant in Los Angeles for barbecue served with salads, hot dishes, and desserts. No one ever left here without overstacking their plates with picanha (sirloin cap), frango com bacon (bacon-wrapped chicken, and linguiça, maionese (potato salad), chunks of squishy heart of palm, beans, rice, and fried bananas approved by LA’s Brazilian community. 

Acai Republic

Nine years ago, Brazilian jiu jitsu teacher Adriano Nasal opened his first branch of this fast growing chain, modeled after shops you’ll find all over Brazil, like the trendy Açai Concept, neighborhood hangouts for nutritious açai na tigela (açai bowls), tropical juices, and salgadinhos (savories). There are six açai blends to choose from like in Sâo Paulo: açai, guaraná, banana, or the sweeter Madly Mango, plus a pitaya base and an açai-chia pudding blend with select toppings. This very Brazilian-style açai chain was inevitable with the high demand Angelenos have for açai and growing interest in Brazilian cuisine. 

M Grill

With its modern translucent stone nightclub bar, an extensive baller wine list of premier cru Bordeaux and Napa Valley cabs, and sleek, seamless textured granite walls, LA’s best Brazilian churrascaria is as much a Koreatown destination as it is Brazilian steakhouse. Boasting twenty different steak cuts, as well as other meats, the consistency and service here are why this place is always packed. And what the place lacks in Brazilian feel, the chicken hearts more than make up for it. Turn your churrascaria card to green and go.

Ubatuba Açaí

Owner Daniela Demetrio, whose family hails from Ubatuba, Sâo Paulo — a lovely beach town three hours east of Brazil’s largest city — opened the first branch of her soon-to-be 18-unit açai chain (by June 2021) back in 2014, inspired by her grandmother’s love of the Amazonian berry as a healthy, delicious treat at the end of the day. Each month a container arrives from Pará filled with the Demetrio’s açai base, blended from berries near the city of Belém for her signature bowls, bursting with tropical fruit flavors — grainy and as intense as you’ll find anywhere in Brazil.

H&H Brazilian Steakhouse

After managing the DTLA Fogo de Châo, Brazilian-born restaurateur Henrique Heyer has introduced LA to the sleek, modern churrascaria one would expect to find in the upscale São Paulo neighborhood of Itaim Bibi. Leather banquettes, contemporary light fixtures and dark wood panel walls go well with premium picanha, maminha (tri-tip), and succulent lamb chops paired with organic wines from South America. The only flaw is the limited salad bar, but the caipifrutas (caipirinhas with different fruit) are a sweet consolation here at LA’s most ambitious new Brazilian steakhouse.

WoodSpoon

Chef Natalia Pereira has reimagined the boteco (pub) at her Bohemian, storefront space in DTLA, into a warm neighborhood gathering of regulars that come for her famous empadão de frango (chicken pot pie), selection of salgadinhos (savories) served with her magical green sauce, and a trio of dishes from her home state of Minas Gerais, like feijão tropeiro (trooper bean). Her feijão tropeiro comes deconstructed, and her PF’s, called grelhas, come as grilled meat plates with beans, rice, farofa (toasted manioc flour), couve (collard greens), and vinagrete (tomato and onion sauce). It’s simple, delicious Brazilian food with homemade sangrias beloved by fans of the hostess and chef of this dinner party. 

Various Brazilian dishes at Wood Spoon on decorated plates, sangria, and wine bottles.
Brazilian dishes at Wood Spoon
Wonho Frank Lee

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