B is for Brazil: Brazil by the Bay

Welcome to Where in the World Can We Eat in San Diego! Each month, we’ll be trying food from a different country or place, going in alphabetical order by the beginning letter.

For March, we’re on the letter B. I chose B is for Brazil, which led my wife and me to Brazil by the Bay, a chill café that’s a great place to unwind with traditional appetizers, stews, and beverages.

Brazil by the Bay

What we ordered:

Because Brazil by the Bay has a pretty large menu, we didn’t have especially high expectations for the food … so we were pleasantly surprised at how homey and from-scratch everything tasted! We ignored any boring American offerings (burgers, etc.) and went straight for the dishes we hadn’t tried before.

Caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail, made with cachaça (liquor made of sugarcane), sugar, and lime. Brazil by the Bay serves an excellent caipiroska, which is like a caipirinha, but with vodka instead of cachaça. It’s so nice and refreshing! I especially appreciate that it’s not too sweet.

This was the first coxinha we ever had, so we can’t compare how this one is to others … but now I want to pursue every coxinha available in San Diego. I’m sure there are a million ways to prepare coxinha, but Brazil by the Bay’s is a filling of shredded chicken, cream cheese, tomatoes, and onions, which is wrapped in a soft dough that’s almost gooey, and then thinly breaded and fried. Drunk food of the gods!

Their entrées are really well balanced, with layers upon layers of savory goodness in their seasonings. One plate would be enough for two people, especially if you got appetizers and dessert. (Which you should.) We ordered the feijoada, which is the national dish of Brazil: a stew of black beans, 6 types of pork (including sausage), and 2 kinds of beef. It’s served with farofa, rice, collard greens, and orange slices.

We also had the PF couve and calabresa: collard green and smoked sausage with rice, beans, and farofa. PF stands for “prato feito,” which is basically Brazilian for “blue plate special.”

And for dessert, we had the maracuja mousse. Like the cocktail, it wasn’t too sweet. The texture was like a thick Greek yogurt but without the tartness. The passionfruit flavor left a really nice aftertaste. It’s pretty rich, so we could only eat half of it together.

Notes:

Brazil by the Bay is located on a back street in Point Loma, across from the Pechanga Stadium — a little oasis in the middle of a gray concrete desert. When you’re following your GPS there for the first time, you’ll probably wonder, “Am I going the right way?” It is right next to Modern Times, if you want to get a local craft brew next-door.

I went there feeling a little worn out and vaguely stressed from the workday. It was pretty amazing how a restaurant, just with its food, music, and general atmosphere, could conjure up the feeling of a relaxing beach day — even though it’s tucked away in what is possibly the ugliest corner of San Diego. I sat on the sunny patio (with our table properly socially distanced from any other guests), sipped my cocktail from a red Solo cup, and felt my cares slip away. I can see why it’s a popular gathering spot for live music and watching soccer games in non-pandemic times.

They also have a South American market attached!

What we want to try next:

This was my first time eating at Brazil by the Bay, but I already have a favorite order cemented in my mind: a caipirinha and a coxinha, plus a feijoada split with my wife or a friend. But I do realize I should branch out when I return.

I’d never had a lot of Brazilian food, but you can see just by scanning the menu that the cuisine has a huge diversity of influences. I’d like to order the moqueca next — “stewed fish, shrimp, and vegetables sautéed in coconut oil and Dendê oil from Bahia.” I’m also curious to try their kibe (which is now a common appetizer in Brazil, first brought by Middle Eastern immigrants) to see how it compares to our favorite Syrian kibbeh from Mal Al Sham in El Cajon.

A friend tells me that pão de queijo (cheese bun) is life-changing.

And of course, I will switch up my dessert each time I come. They have brigadeiros and beinjhos (they seem to be kind of like truffles), pudim de leite (caramel flan), and pavê sonho de valsa (Brazilian tiramisu with chocolate custard), among others.

Restaurant information:

Address: 3676 Kurtz St, San Diego, CA 92107
Phone number: 619-692-1410
Accepts credit cards? Yes
Parking: Small shared lot
Available vegetarian options: Appetizers, sides, salads, and desserts. Lots of heart of palm. (The entrees all have meat or seafood in them.)

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