There’s a small shack just outside the Berkeley campus whose ability to survive throughout the years is rather exceptional. With its predominantly yellow, brightly colored walls, its tattered gray sandpaper roofing, The Brazil Cafe sits just outside on the parking lot of a bike store. I’ve heard good things about the small shop, although its unconventional presence is enough to draw in people’s attention. It was on a partcularly hot day that I decided to finally pay the small shop a visit.
In my ignorance, I was kind of expecting a burrito. Once I asked the young man in front of me what he preferred, he mentioned the tri tip sandwich. There were no burritos. There weren’t talks of carne asada, however on the menu they mentioned carnitas. It completely alluded me that in Brazil they speak Portuguese, and that Brazilian food would share no ties to Mexican food. I guess in the bay surrounded by Mexican food all the time, I tend to associate all of South American culture with Mexico.
I assumed that there would be a long wait for the tri tip sandwich that I ordered; it wasn’t as long as I expected but neither was it much shorter. I opened up the sandwich to find large chunks of tri tip pouring over the sides: it’s a good thing. My first bite consisted of flavors completely new. With a light green sauce, the sandwich and its barage of tri tip was drenched in a sweet blend of olives, jalepenos, and sauteed onions. The entire experience had a kick to it. The chunks of bold tri tip left me happy.
I was sitting in my car writing this post on my phone when I noticed someone waving at me from the front of Brazil Cafe. It was my friend.
“Yo what are you doing here?” he asked.
“I just had a tri tip sandwich. It’s my first time coming here,” I said.
He tilted his head in disappointment.
“Bro… you’re doing it wrong. I eat here every week.”