Brazilian cuisine at Cafe Brasil in Santa Cruz, CA

It was a warm summer Saturday and what better way to spend it than with family at the beach. Santa Cruz to be more specific. We hit the beach just as the fog was starting to lift and spent a couple of hours frolicking in the water. At the end of it, we were famished. The wonderful wife had yelped this interesting Brazilian place in Santa Cruz with a lot of positive reviews. We made our way to the middle of town where Cafe Brasil was located. The place was easy to spot with its Brazilian bearings of green and yellow all over. It was also packed. Since they didnt take reservations, we had to wait for a table for 7 which took about 25 minutes which wasnt all that bad.

The place is densely packed with very little in the way of walking and moving space. It was also packed to the brim with patrons. We got settled and were greeted by a menu filled with dishes and ingredients not very familiar atleast on first glance. We picked a couple of appetizers in the way of Aipim Fritto (yucca fries) and Fried plantains. We also ordered a bunch of drinks from the juice bar (which was very unique I have to admit) in the form of Acai bowl (to be shared), Coquetel de frutas (bunch of fruits), Goiaba juice(guava juice), and a mimosa. The Acai bowl turned out to be a crowd pleaser and the guava juice and the coquetel were also very nice.

For the main course, we had two options- go with the breakfast menu (which was still being served at 1:30 pm) and a bunch of tofu offerings (is tofu popular in Brazil?). We ended up ordering a mix of both- A Baiana (tofu with tomato sauce and veggies and rice), fried rice with beans for the little guy, Rancheiros, Galo Pinto and Veggie Fritada. Food started arriving pretty quickly (some of them before the appetizers). The A Baiana was interesting- one of us found it a tad bland and had to spike it with tabasco. The Rancheiros and fritada came in for praise and a note that the portion size was significant. The friend plantains were much loved. The little guy was the only one who took to the Yucca fries and consumed over half of what was served.

Overall, it was an interesting experience since most of us had never eaten Brazilian food before. Most of us also liked what we had and complaints were primarily that some of the dishes were bland. Otherwise, it was exotic as advertized and we didnt regret out trip to Cafe Brasil. If you are in Santa Cruz, it is well worth a trip to the place.

Ambiance: 7.5/10. There is a lot of energy in the small restaurant. The place was vibrant but the decor was bland to one of almost intended nonchalance.

Service: 8/10. Service was slow to start but once the orders were placed, food came in pretty quickly.

Food: 8.25/10. Food was tasty and interesting. The drinks were especially great.

Price: 8.25/10. Food was priced reasonably. Drinks were a tad on the higher side.

Restroom: 7/10. Given the nature of the location, the restroom was not the best.

Overall: 8/10. Cafe Brasil was a pleasant experience. One that is well worth the price.