Botequim Carioca

Photo:Roberto Koltun.
Photo:Roberto Koltun.

The new downtown Botequim Carioca is a breed apart from our herd of Brazilian churrascarias. More of a tapas bar with a main course menu, it’s worth a try if you’re in the American Airlines Arena neighborhood. The concept, a sort of pared-down neighborhood bar, is popular in Rio de Janeiro, where Carioca Botequim has four siblings. The vast and diverse menu has some intriguing and addictive offerings, including several native dishes. Tapas come in large portions that make for easy sharing, especially if you come with a group of more than two or three – a good idea.

Ambiance: Televisions mounted on the walls and over the bar might be showing the latest soccer match or maybe music videos featuring the sexy pop star Ivete Sangalo. Though there is nothing fancy here … the floors are concrete, the walls faux brick, the tables bare wood and the waiters in polos.

What Worked

  • Lovely salt cod
  • Puffy pillows of pastel misto, an array of golden, hand-crimped shrimp & beef empanadas
  • Deep-fried bolinho de bacalhau (cod-filled dumplings)
  • Deep-fried frango a passarinho na cumbuca (herb-flecked chicken wings)
  • Deep-fried aipim frito (fried yuca) with a thick Gorgonzola dipping sauce
  • Batata frita, tasty French fries topped with pinky-size pork sausage tidbits and raw onions
  • Bacalhau gomes de sa – a larger platter of tender salt cod chunks seasoned judiciously with a flavorful dressing
  • Flavorful and satisfying classic picanha, a thin, juicy thin slab of grilled sirloin served with  a mound of seasoned rice and crispy Brazilian onion rings
  • Dark and light Garoto and Tulipa & a mellow Itaipava pilsner Brazilian beers

What Didn’t Work

  • Stingy drinks, including the classic caipirinha and a less sweet, vodka-based caipiroska
  • Stingy pours of an anonymous merlot
  • Rustically simple traditional Romeo e Julieta, a block of guava paste topped with sweetened, cream cheese-like catupiry