Before I get off this restaurant review kick and onto something else, folks, let me point out just one more eatery chain that’s become synonymous with Dallas, at least to me: Café Brazil, which has representatives in ten locations all over the Metroplex. I have no idea what the connection to Brazil is, if there is one, other than the fact that the some of the food is basically Hispanic (if not especially Brazilian). That is, you get a lot of chorizo, migas, etc., but you also get some kickass French toast, rosemary potatoes, and as much coffee as you could ever possibly drink in one sitting.
Café Brazil started out in the Lakewood District, one of the area’s more artsy regions, and I suppose that’s pretty obvious just looking at the average franchise. Here are a couple of pictures of the one I frequent in Richardson (there are none nearer to me than that, as far as I can tell).
One of Café Brazil’s best features, as far as I’m concerned, is the fact that they stay open till midnight Sunday-Thursday, and are open 24 hours on Friday and Saturday. Many’s the time I’ve sat quietly in the corner on a weekend evening, tapping away on my laptop till two or three AM, roughing out one of these entries or editing this, that, or the other. It’s a good way to get out of the house for a while, especially when you’re a night owl, and the coffee’s better than what they offer over at the IHOP (sorry, IHOP). The food’s great, sure, but the coffee’s to die for — you generally get a choice of 10-12 flavors, leaded or unleaded, along with some nice half-and-half, 2% milk, and other fine additives. Some of their flavors are incredible — I especially like the Carrot Cake and Very Berry types, though the Crème Brulee and Irish Cream are also excellent. Actually, I’ve never been dissatisfied with the coffee. Best thing is, it’s right there, racked up in a series of gallon carafes; when you’re out, you just go get more for yourself. As I’ve mentioned before, some folks don’t care for that kind of thing, but I do. I’d rather get it myself than wait for someone to come bring it to me. I’m impatient that way, and I drink a lot of coffee.
Now, in my experience, the service can <> be a little spotty. The wait staff is invariably polite, but they’re often overwhelmed; and when they’re not, they tend to congregate in the kitchen or behind the counter and socialize. Considering that this happens in just about every restaurant I’ve been in that hires the Young and the Restless, this is nothing new to me, so it’s easy to brush off. I must say it’s never affected the food — I’ve never had anything less than a tasty meal at any Café Brazil.
As for as the best things to eat on the menu, I’m going to recommend the El Gordo crepes, which is a mix of chorizo, eggs, and everything else you would expect in a Mexican egg dish, wrapped not in tortillas, oh no, but in French-style crepes. Yep. It comes with a delicate white wine sauce, a side of rosemary-encrusted Irish potatoes, and sourdough bread with jam. Very nice meal, it is, and very tasty, too. If you’re not a fan of spicy heat, I’d recommend that you order them without the jalepenos, because the chef is rather generous with them otherwise.
Another especial delicacy is their French toast, which I recommend that you get with fruit. Not only do you have the tasty sourdough bread given the old French toast treatment complete with powdered sugar, you get a nice pile of fruit salad on top, including such notables as watermelon, grapes, cantaloupe, and walnuts (not quite a fruit, but whatever). This isn’t a breakfast dish, really; it’s a dessert. One proviso: unless you have a prodigious appetite, plan to have nothing else for your meal, or intend to share with someone, don’t order a full order of the French toast. Get a half order instead, or you’ll be taking home a doggy bag.
Now, about the prices. Despite the kind of food you’d be likely to find in a pretentious restaurant (as least there are no “genuine” feta cheese nachos, thank gawd) the prices are damned good. That’s not to say you can’t spend a bit if you come hungry, but it’s not likely to break the bank even then. Nearly all the entrees cost less than $10, and the same’s true of the desserts and sides, even ye olde Frenche toaste. (Mmmm). Add a regular drink and a bottomless cup o’ coffee, which is definitely one of the top draws, and you’ll get out of there for well under $20 most days.
You’ve gotta spend your vacation money somewhere, so spend it wisely, and eat well at Café Brazil! For more info, check out their website at http://www.cafebrazil.com/.