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Oasis Brazilian Steakhouse
Brazilian barbecue in Medford, MA
Oasis Brazilian Steakhouse/Official Site

8 Great Brazilian Dishes in Greater Boston

Eat vaca atolada in Medford, acaraje with vatapa in Somerville, and brigadeiros (and so much more) in Framingham

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Brazilian barbecue in Medford, MA
| Oasis Brazilian Steakhouse/Official Site

The U.S. is home to the largest Brazilian population outside of Brazil, and Massachusetts is home to one of the largest Brazilian populations in the U.S. This is especially true of the South Shore, and Framingham in particular. As such, Brazilian culture — including its cuisine — is easy to find in the Commonwealth.

Brazil is a massive country with a diverse population, and its cuisine is illustrative of that reality. European, especially Portuguese, influence is undeniable, but indigenous and African culinary traditions form the backbone of Brazil’s cuisine.

Here are eight great Brazilian dishes to eat (and where to find them) in Greater Boston.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Vaca Atolada at Oasis Brazilian Restaurant

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Putting some sort of meat and some sort of starch in a pot and letting the contents of that pot cook for a long time over a low flame is universal. Vaca atolada is a traditional Brazilian stew from the Minas Gerais region, which combines beef ribs, cassava, garlic, tomatoes, onions, and ground urucum seed, among other spices. After stewing for many hours, the sauce takes on an almost mud-like appearance, hence the name of the dish, which translates roughly to “cow stuck in the mud.” Wash it all down with some cachaça, Brazil’s most popular spirit, which is made with fermented sugarcane juice. Oasis Brazilian Restaurant features the stew as a special on Monday nights. Mark your calendars accordingly.

Oasis Brazilian Restaurant is open for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery.

Acaraje with Vatapa at Nibble Kitchen

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Brazilian street food often means starchy, fried goodness. Acaraje with vatapa is just that, and it also illustrates how West African cuisine had a substantial influence on the development of food traditions in Brazil. Acaraje (known as akara in West African cuisines) is a fritter of mashed black eyed peas and onions, deep-fried and filled with vatapa, a paste made from coconut milk, shrimp, pao (Brazilian bread), palm oil, and peanuts. This stuffed fritter is traditionally served with a hot pepper sauce, so proceed with caution. Nibble Kitchen is an initiative in Somerville that highlights the community’s diverse culinary scene. On Thursdays, the kitchen features a menu of Brazilian food, and its take on acaraje with vatapa steals the show.

Nibble Kitchen is open for takeout.

Acarajé with Vatapá sauce from Nibble Kitchen Somerville
Nibble Kitchen/Official Photo

Bobo de Camarao at BR TakeOut

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Bobo de camarao is a popular dish from the Bahia region in northeastern Brazil. It epitomizes the sweet, creamy, seafood-focused cuisine of the area. Bahia is on the Atlantic coast, and the region contains plentiful coconut groves, hence the creamy, seafood-focused nature of its cuisine. During the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, Bahia was a center of sugarcane cultivation, and the region was complicit in the Atlantic slave trade. As such, its cuisine was and continues to be heavily influenced by West African cuisine. This Bahian favorite is made with cassava puree, onions, peppers, tomatoes, coconut milk, and palm oil, and has shrimp piled high on top at BR Takeout.

BR Takeout in Framingham is open for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery.

Churrasco at Terra Brasilis Restaurant

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Grilled meat can be found in every corner of the world. In Brazil (and other parts of South America), churrasco (which translates to “barbecue”) is the preferred form of grilling meat. The first thing diners notice at Terra Brasilis in Framingham is all the skewered beef, pork, and chicken being cooked over flames near the back wall of the restaurant. Be sure to try the picanha (fatty beef sirloin), and the chicken liver too. Prices are determined by the food’s total weight, unlike the all-you-can-eat fees typical at some Brazilian steakhouses.

Terra Brasilis is open for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery. It also has a location in Worcester.

Brigadeiro at Padaria Brasil Bakery, Buffet & Pizzeria

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The brigadeiro (named for Brigadier Eduardo Gomes, whose 1946 presidential campaign sold the confections to raise money) is made by combining sweetened condensed milk, cocoa, and butter to create a sweet, chocolatey paste. Then, it is rolled into balls the size of truffles and coated with chocolate sprinkles. Padaria Brasil in Framingham is best known for its brigadeiro, thanks to a recipe that hasn’t changed in many years. The debate that many have when eating this fudgy delicacy is whether it should be eaten in one bite or two. Head to Padaria Brasil and decide for yourself. And if chocolate isn’t your thing, give Padaria Brasil’s beijinho, or “little kiss,” a try — it’s like the coconut version of a brigadeiro.

Padaria Brasil in Framingham is open for takeout and delivery.

Feijoada at Sabor De Minas Restaurant

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Feijoada is often referred to as the national dish of Brazil, and it is especially popular in Rio de Janeiro. This stew is made with black beans, a variety of different cuts of pork or beef (ears, tail, feet, tongue, and various salted meats, like bacon, sausages, and jerky), vegetables, plantains, carrots, and cassava. Its makeup differs from region to region. At Sabor de Minas, the dish is best served with garlicky rice and a can of Guaraná Antarctica, a popular soft drink in Brazil.

Sabor de Minas Restaurant is open for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery.

Pudim de Leite at Miranda Bread

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Pudim de leite is Brazil’s take on flan. Miranda Bread puts its own spin on this classic by adding sweetened condensed milk, combined with eggs, whole milk, and sugar. The result? A jiggly, custardy ring, covered in a thick, shiny caramel sauce. Enjoy your pudim de leite with a cup of coffee.

Miranda Bread is available for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery. There are also locations in Marlborough, Stoughton, and Worcester.

Coxinha at Pao Brasil Bakery

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Italy has arancini, and Brazil has coxinha. These deep fried fritters are filled with shredded chicken and requeijao, a kind of cheese that is both creamy and spreadable, and they resemble a teardrop. Pao Brasil makes its coxhina with cassava flour combined with chicken stock, which adds a savory element to the dough. The coxinha at Pao Brasil exemplifies everything a fried ball of dough filled with meat and cheese should be — it’s crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, with a meaty, cheesy core. Perfect. Also worth trying at Pao Brasil: the brigadeiro stuffed carrot cake.

Pao Brasil Bakery in is open for takeout.

Vaca Atolada at Oasis Brazilian Restaurant

Putting some sort of meat and some sort of starch in a pot and letting the contents of that pot cook for a long time over a low flame is universal. Vaca atolada is a traditional Brazilian stew from the Minas Gerais region, which combines beef ribs, cassava, garlic, tomatoes, onions, and ground urucum seed, among other spices. After stewing for many hours, the sauce takes on an almost mud-like appearance, hence the name of the dish, which translates roughly to “cow stuck in the mud.” Wash it all down with some cachaça, Brazil’s most popular spirit, which is made with fermented sugarcane juice. Oasis Brazilian Restaurant features the stew as a special on Monday nights. Mark your calendars accordingly.

Oasis Brazilian Restaurant is open for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery.

Acaraje with Vatapa at Nibble Kitchen

Acarajé with Vatapá sauce from Nibble Kitchen Somerville
Nibble Kitchen/Official Photo

Brazilian street food often means starchy, fried goodness. Acaraje with vatapa is just that, and it also illustrates how West African cuisine had a substantial influence on the development of food traditions in Brazil. Acaraje (known as akara in West African cuisines) is a fritter of mashed black eyed peas and onions, deep-fried and filled with vatapa, a paste made from coconut milk, shrimp, pao (Brazilian bread), palm oil, and peanuts. This stuffed fritter is traditionally served with a hot pepper sauce, so proceed with caution. Nibble Kitchen is an initiative in Somerville that highlights the community’s diverse culinary scene. On Thursdays, the kitchen features a menu of Brazilian food, and its take on acaraje with vatapa steals the show.

Nibble Kitchen is open for takeout.

Acarajé with Vatapá sauce from Nibble Kitchen Somerville
Nibble Kitchen/Official Photo

Bobo de Camarao at BR TakeOut

Bobo de camarao is a popular dish from the Bahia region in northeastern Brazil. It epitomizes the sweet, creamy, seafood-focused cuisine of the area. Bahia is on the Atlantic coast, and the region contains plentiful coconut groves, hence the creamy, seafood-focused nature of its cuisine. During the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, Bahia was a center of sugarcane cultivation, and the region was complicit in the Atlantic slave trade. As such, its cuisine was and continues to be heavily influenced by West African cuisine. This Bahian favorite is made with cassava puree, onions, peppers, tomatoes, coconut milk, and palm oil, and has shrimp piled high on top at BR Takeout.

BR Takeout in Framingham is open for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery.

Churrasco at Terra Brasilis Restaurant

Grilled meat can be found in every corner of the world. In Brazil (and other parts of South America), churrasco (which translates to “barbecue”) is the preferred form of grilling meat. The first thing diners notice at Terra Brasilis in Framingham is all the skewered beef, pork, and chicken being cooked over flames near the back wall of the restaurant. Be sure to try the picanha (fatty beef sirloin), and the chicken liver too. Prices are determined by the food’s total weight, unlike the all-you-can-eat fees typical at some Brazilian steakhouses.

Terra Brasilis is open for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery. It also has a location in Worcester.

Brigadeiro at Padaria Brasil Bakery, Buffet & Pizzeria

The brigadeiro (named for Brigadier Eduardo Gomes, whose 1946 presidential campaign sold the confections to raise money) is made by combining sweetened condensed milk, cocoa, and butter to create a sweet, chocolatey paste. Then, it is rolled into balls the size of truffles and coated with chocolate sprinkles. Padaria Brasil in Framingham is best known for its brigadeiro, thanks to a recipe that hasn’t changed in many years. The debate that many have when eating this fudgy delicacy is whether it should be eaten in one bite or two. Head to Padaria Brasil and decide for yourself. And if chocolate isn’t your thing, give Padaria Brasil’s beijinho, or “little kiss,” a try — it’s like the coconut version of a brigadeiro.

Padaria Brasil in Framingham is open for takeout and delivery.

Feijoada at Sabor De Minas Restaurant

Feijoada is often referred to as the national dish of Brazil, and it is especially popular in Rio de Janeiro. This stew is made with black beans, a variety of different cuts of pork or beef (ears, tail, feet, tongue, and various salted meats, like bacon, sausages, and jerky), vegetables, plantains, carrots, and cassava. Its makeup differs from region to region. At Sabor de Minas, the dish is best served with garlicky rice and a can of Guaraná Antarctica, a popular soft drink in Brazil.

Sabor de Minas Restaurant is open for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery.

Pudim de Leite at Miranda Bread

Pudim de leite is Brazil’s take on flan. Miranda Bread puts its own spin on this classic by adding sweetened condensed milk, combined with eggs, whole milk, and sugar. The result? A jiggly, custardy ring, covered in a thick, shiny caramel sauce. Enjoy your pudim de leite with a cup of coffee.

Miranda Bread is available for indoor dining, takeout, and delivery. There are also locations in Marlborough, Stoughton, and Worcester.

Coxinha at Pao Brasil Bakery

Italy has arancini, and Brazil has coxinha. These deep fried fritters are filled with shredded chicken and requeijao, a kind of cheese that is both creamy and spreadable, and they resemble a teardrop. Pao Brasil makes its coxhina with cassava flour combined with chicken stock, which adds a savory element to the dough. The coxinha at Pao Brasil exemplifies everything a fried ball of dough filled with meat and cheese should be — it’s crunchy on the outside, soft and fluffy on the inside, with a meaty, cheesy core. Perfect. Also worth trying at Pao Brasil: the brigadeiro stuffed carrot cake.

Pao Brasil Bakery in is open for takeout.

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