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London hosted the Olympic Games four years ago. This year, it’s Brazil’s turn and we can’t wait to see what show they will put on. The Rio 2016 Olympic Games reminded us that we actually don’t know much about Brazilians living in London and how we can experience Brazil while still in the capital. So we decided to learn more about our discreet (are they really?) Brazilian friends.
How much do you know about Brazil?
- The country Brazil takes its name from a dark rosewood that the early Portuguese found that had a deep red hue on the inside and which they called ‘pau-Brasil’.
- Brazil is known for its Amazon river, samba, bossa nova, football prodigies, the Rio Carnival and now the Olympic Games. Of course, there are many other things that could define Brazil.
- By the way (a trick question), do you know which city is the capital of Brazil? Rio de Janeiro we hear you say?….nope it’s Brasilia.
Now that you know more about the country, let’s talk about Brazilians in London. Where should you go to experience Brazil or taste some Brazilian food?
If you want to try some Brazilian food, there are some great places where you can go. Barraco Café is a nice café/restaurant. Its decoration gives it a warm feel. The staff is laid back and most importantly, the food is very tasty. You have to try their coxinhas, which is a popular dish in Brazil made of chicken & potato covered in dough and fried. The shape of the coxinha resembles that of a chicken leg.
One interesting feature about Barraco Café is that they keep different pints in a freezer. They use them to serve you a very very fresh pint of Brahma which is the Brazilian beer (it’s very sparkling, light and not bitter). If you like your beer cold, you’ll be served! Barraco Café is definitely a place where you can have a very good time. So bring your amigos along!
Another brilliant place is Brazilian Café (that’s their real name) which is right next to Tottenham Court road station and above a phone shop. They don’t have any website yet (it’s being built). But here is their address:
35 Oxford Street
The place is modest in its presentation but clean. Their strength is also…their food!
They have different dishes such as: empada (which is a bit like a pie filled with chicken), esfera (a pie with beef and cheese), coxinha, different dishes but one that you have to try is called feijoada. Feijoada is also a traditional Brazilian dish that is unbelievably tasty. It’s made of tender pork + black beans + rice + farofa (= cassava). The sauce is succulent! It is hard to explain how good it is. You just have to try it!
At the Brazilian Café, we also had the chance to try a national drink called Guarana Antartica. It’s a sparkling drink made of cherry juice and served cold. This tastes like nothing else we have tried before but we just couldn’t get enough of it. It’s so refreshing. You should stock up on them now that summer is here!
The owners are also very friendly and they bring some latin American warmth to London. So, if you are close to Tottenham Court road and feel hungry…don’t go for a dodgy and boring burger. Try some of the dishes the Brazilian Café prepares so beautifully!
A few months ago we ate at Rodizio in Clapham Junction. That was a nice little escape as it gave us a warm feeling in the middle of winter. We tried the specialty called Rodizio (which means rotation) which consisted of 15 types of meat cooked in different manners. It was really tasty, but man it was filling! We stopped after the 10th dish was brought to us as our bellies couldn’t take it anymore. At Rodizio it’s not just about meat though. There are some nice veggy dishes as well.
There are several other Brazilian places in London where you can eat (Cabana at the O2, Tia Maria, Floripa, Café Brazil etc.) but no post would be complete if we didn’t talk about Guanabara. Guanabara is a well-known Brazilian establishment in London. You can eat there, watch shows (such as samba dances, capoeira demo etc.), and party! The atmosphere is good. If you want to spend a whole night in one place then Guanabara is where you want to go.
But if you favour food and a more peaceful atmosphere then we highly suggest the Brazilian Café or Barraco Café.
There are several bars you could go to.
One that attracted our attention but sadly we did not get to try (yet) is Coco Bananas. Based on their own video, it seems like a great Brazilian bar/club where you want to spend the night. Watch the video below:
If you are interested in buying some Brazilian food, you could also visit Barraco Café or the Brazilian Café since they also sell a few food items. Otherwise, you might want to try Supermercado Portugal located in the Maida Vale area which sells both Portuguese and Brazilian food. We bought some cheese (queijo) and meat (misto carne salgada) and were really happy we did.
There is also Casa Brazil Londres located close to Notting Hill (very close to Queensway tube station) where you can buy some food.
Shoes and clothes
Brazilian people (especially the women), take a lot of pride in their appearance.
Naturally, they expect shops to offer great products and they want their shops to have some style. We went to a shop called Melissa located in Covent Garden. Our visit was a total accident. We thought we were entering an interesting museum but it was actually a beautifully designed shoe shop. We were so impressed by the shop design and the art in the basement that we decided to take some pictures. We also liked Melissa due to the fact that it’s a shoe shop with a conscious: they create stylish shoes from plastic that is 100% sustainable.
If you are more interested in clothing, there is also Brazil Active which provides high quality fitness clothing for women. So, if you are the sporty type and fancy having the Brazilian look this shop might be just what you need.
Of course we cannot talk about Brazil without mentioning music and sounds. If you would like to listen to some Brazilian music, you could check the Sounds do Brazil and Sounds & Colours websites. They give some information about which Brazilian artists will play, when and where.
If you feel like spicing up an event you will organise, you could add some Brazilian flavours to it by hiring the Tropicalia Show group. Or, you could hire a Brazilian band. Either way, you’re guaranteed to spend a great night!
As you can see, there are many ways to enjoy the Brazilian culture in London. We haven’t mentioned them all here.
Brazilians are not discreet or ‘secretive’. They are very much out there for anyone who wants to learn more about them or enjoy what they have to offer. But for whatever reason they manage to stay under the radar.
This is a shame because the London Brazilian scene and community are very interesting and vibrant. People who don’t know about it definitely miss something. Maybe the Olympic Games this summer will change that and more will want to experience the Brazilian fever. We certainly encourage you to!