There’s something about a good caipirinha that just makes me happy. It’s like a sip of Ipanema in a short glass, minus the sand and hot Brazilian bodied thonged sungas. Despite the close proximity of the two countries, and the large number of Brazilians in Argentina, for some strange reason Buenos Aires only has a handful of Brazilian restaurants, most of which do not do Brazilian food justice. But now little Brazil has reached Palermo Hollywood, making Boteco do Brasil a solid spot to get your dose of Brazil on a plate, with some extra cachaça on the side.A top pick for the local Brazilian community living in Buenos Aires, this eclectic cantina-style restaurant is legit: authentic dishes and a wide selection of caipirinhas — all run by actual Brazilians, from the cook, to the bartender to the servers. This tiny spot on Bonpland is decorated with kitschy Brazilian knickknacks and paintings of Brazil. There are only a handful of tables inside, and a handful more on the sidewalk. It’s hard to go to this place and not order a caipirinha. Sipping on one of their maracuyá-lima caipirinhas and I was instantly transported to the block parties in Lapa, attempting to booty dance with a bunch of big booties way out of my league. They make several different flavors – but I’ve found the ultimate combination is the lime-passionfruit.The menu consists of about a dozen of salgadinhos and appetizers, main dishes, vegetarian options and sides. Word to the wise: don’t go too hungry – service, although super friendly, can be somewhat slow.This empadinha de camarão (savory pie with shrimp) can do no wrong — it’s buttery, it’s seafoody, it’s a winner. I only wish it had less buttery pastry crust and more shrimpy insides.Make sure to order a spicy ají pepper sauce on the side — while it doesn’t have the insanely spice quality that they warned me of, it still had a picante kick.I know, I know, who goes to a Brazilian restaurant and orders chicken wings? Almost as bad as my KFC Kentucky Fried (Grilled?) Chicken when I was in Rio. But these were cooked nicely, crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside — pour a bit of molho de alho (garlic sauce) and molho de pimenta (spicy sauce) and you’re good to go. They also do a tabla where you can taste a bit of everything on the appetizer menu — and a seafood platter, which I didn’t taste, but I bet it’s a good thing to picar while sipping on some caipis. In this city you can really judge a cook by how they cook shrimp. So many times I experience mushy shrimp, rubbery shrimp, shrimp that still has the poop-shoot vein in tact — it’s very rare to come across a perfect bite of the shelled fish critters, but Boteco did it right in this Bobó de camarão: a mandioca puré with coconut milk, palm oil and shrimp.The main dishes are quite large – and come with sides – so it’s good to share. When I lived with Brazilian girls in college, they would cook pasta with cut up hot dogs in marinara sauce — this Brazilian food is much different. Feijoada, Stroganoff, ossobucco, fresh fish and a good ole’ carioca sampler with rice, black beans, farofa (manioc flour mixture), french fries and meat or chicken.
On Sundays they have live Brazilian music — the very talented Renato Dos Santos took over with some contagiously happy buena onda music, perfect for a little samba on the sidewalk.And if you are lucky, they might even throw an instrument in your hand and ask you to join the band.
Boteco do Brasil
Tues – Saturday: 11am – 12am
Sunday 5pm – 12am
Average price: 75 pesos