As you’ve probably heard, 2016 is an Olympic year. And with this year’s Games taking place in the beautiful and breathtaking city of Rio de Janeiro, all eyes will be on our Brazilian brothers and sisters, with every aspect of their culture being placed under the world’s microscope.
This summer, the world will be bathed in green and yellow as Brazil’s fashion, music, sport and, more importantly to us, food and drink are brought to the forefront of the global consciousness.
But you don’t have to jet thousands of miles to the Cidade Maravilhosa to sample authentic Brazilian cuisine for yourself. In fact, Londonders can get the real deal simply by jumping on the Victoria Line and heading straight to Brixton’s Market Row, and discovering one of the most charming restaurants this side of the Watford Gap for themselves.
Headed up by brothers Maurilio and Eusebio Gonclaves, and named after the vivacious people of Rio de Janeiro, Carioca’s menu showcases the diverse and full-flavoured fare of Brazil, combining culinary influences from the Portuguese, Africans and native South Americans.
All of Carioca’s food is freshly prepared in-house with diners able to enjoy a true taste of traditional dishes – from freshly-baked Pao de Queijo cheese buns and organic cornmeal empanadas stuffed with deeply-scented braised beef, to what was possibly the crowning jewel in the menu for us – a take on Brazil’s popular national dish Feijoada; a hearty stew of black beans slow-cooked with four different cuts of pork and beef. But take it from us – one heady plate of this later and you’ll be longing for a hammock and a good siesta.
Speaking of pork and beef, Brazilian food isn’t known for catering to vegetarians – although, there are still a fair few delicious meat-free dishes, including a veggie burger, on the menu – and the country’s love of grilled meats is reflected in Carioca’s menu. Whether its smoky cured chorizo or tender Jacobs Ladder spare ribs, this is a meat lover’s paradise.
And if that doesn’t get you into the carnival spirit, the restaurant’s refreshing signature Caipirinha cocktails and Brahma beer should finish the job. You can bring along your own bottle of wine if you’d rather, but we’d recommend giving in to the rhythm of the Samba and letting the brothers Goncalves quench your thirst, as well as your appetite.
Carioca is a sparkling little gem in Brixton’s world-famous market – with food that’s bursting with colour, flavour and passion – where you’ll be fed like kings and treated like family. They’ve recently launched a new brunch menu too, with dishes featuring a Brazilian twist, alongside some ol’ English favourites. Meaning rain or shine, whatever the time, you can keep going back for more and discover for yourself what this amazing country can offer your tastebuds.