I’ve written recently about vegetarian restaurants in my neighborhood, and about Indian buffets – but today I wanted to mention my favorite restaurant in the Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex, Cafe Brazil.
Despite its name, Cafe Brazil does not offer Brazilian fare. It calls itself a coffee shop – though the food is way too eclectic and too good for that pedestrian moniker – but the coffee is pretty damn good too. Technically, it’s a chain, with eleven locations throughout the Metroplex (they are able to figure out a lot of the cool places: Deep Ellum, Bishop Arts, Cedar Springs, Lower Greenville) but, as far as I know it’s still owned by a local group.
The original Cafe Brazil was in Lakewood (another cool place). Unfortunately that spot is no more. I used to eat there on the way to writing classes at The Writer’s Garret. On a Tuesday, early, right after work, it would usually be deserted and quiet and a great place for a crepe or a sandwich with some strong coffee to keep me going.
I miss that branch. One nice thing about Cafe Brazil is that each location is a bit different and has a nice relationship to the neighborhood it’s in. The Suburban locations are a bit more open and shiny, though they still work on the funky ambiance, while the more urban spots feel cramped and thrown together… perfect. I’ve never been to the Bishop Arts location – have to check that out soon.
I like the Richardson location. It’s in a strange building that must have once been a big Tex-Mex place but is now painted garish primary colors. The walls are covered with local art for sale and there’s a noisy back room that’s a fun place for a group.
My favorite is the Deep Ellum Cafe Brazil. I love to ride my bicycle down there on Saturday Mornings and eat a late breakfast with the cops and the folks that are struggling with repairing the damage from the night before – damage either physical or mental. It’s a big place, a Deep Ellum place, probably once a warehouse or repair shop. Like everything in Deep Ellum the echoes of old blues permeates the brick and dust and adds a bit of spice to the El Gordo Crepes I usually order.
So if you are in the Metroplex go down and try out the nearest Cafe Brazil (or one not so near) – though I’ll bet you already have. The problem is… once you’ve been there it’s hard to think of a reason to go anywhere else… at least that’s what I think.
If you’re somewhere else, don’t despair – I’m sure there is a Cafe Brazil in your city. It will go by a different name but it’s there, with strong coffee, crisp sandwiches, and a menu full of things that don’t seem to go together at first glance but are all the product of passion in the kitchen and skill with the burners.
Ride your bike there, by the way. It makes you even hungrier.
I love Cafe Brazil. Deep Ellum is my favorite spot, too. Partly because of the location and clientele and partly because we love booths, and it has a lot of them. That’s one reason I never liked the Lakewood location as much–wide open and bright (although the porch with louvered protection from the sun would have been great if I’d ever been there when it wasn’t blistering). I’ve also eaten at the Richardson location, the Central location, the Plano location (more booths, for the win!) and the new Greenville (which I like okay, because it’s darker). Didn’t even know there was one in Bishop Arts.
And some of them have wifi. Most. But last I checked, Richardson still didn’t.
I never thought about the Deep Ellum location having more booths – that’s a good point.
I’ve never used Cafe Brazil as a place to write or to surf the web (though I’ve thought about it) – it seems too much of a restaurant to me and I don’t like taking tips away from the wait staff. I haven’t sat at the counter (Deep Ellum and Richardson at least have counters) – but that’s something I want to try some time.
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