Two years ago, the world had its eyes on Brazil for the FIFA World Cup, and Brazilian chef Paula DaSilva took us on a tour of her favorite spots to eat traditional Brazilian food in South Florida.
And recently, we turned our attention back to the country for the Summer Olympic Games, taking place in Rio de Janeiro.
DaSilva worked as executive chef of 3030 Ocean in Fort Lauderdale and was runner-up on Season 5 of the reality show "Hell's Kitchen." Check out her favorite spots below.
Casa do Pastel
430 E. Sample Road, Pompano Beach, 954-781-8778
Similar to an empanada, a pastel is stuffed with sweet or salty fillings (think ground beef, chicken, cheese, guava, dulce de leche and chocolate). The main difference is in the pastel dough, which is thinner and crispier. Casa do Pastel offers 41 flavors.
"Not all places do it well, this place here does it really well," DaSilva said. "They do a great job making it fresh."
23160 Sandalfoot Plaza Drive, Boca Raton (561-487-2860), 843 Sample Road, Pompano Beach (954-781-3414), Restaurantebrasil.us
The highlight of this traditional self-service eatery: the meat, including steak, chicken, pork and homemade sausage. Here, you choose food from a buffet and pay according to plate weight. DaSilva praised the picanha, a different cut of top sirloin. "It has a nice tender fat cap on top, which gives it an extremely great flavor," she said.
Casa do Pão
22829 N. State Road 7, Boca Raton, 561-852-8390, Casadopaoboca.com
Make sure you have an empty stomach before entering this Brazilian bakery because the options are endless. DaSilva's faves: traditional cheese bread, and fruitcake, made with layers of fresh fruits and homemade whipped cream. "If you want to look for fresh pastries, beautiful breads or desserts for you to take to your next party, this is really the place to come and get it," DaSilva said.
Chima Brazilian Steakhouse
2400 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-712-0580, chima.cc
DaSilva chose this spot specifically for its caipirinha. Also known as the Brazilian mojito, a caipirinha is made with fresh lime, sugar, ice and topped with cachaça. DaSilva's tip: This is what you should be drinking while watching matches. "This is really one of my favorite places here in South Florida to get this national drink that, unless you flew to Brazil, you're only going to get it here."