Chego As Influential as Kogi? Rio Brazil Cafe Starts Serving Brazilian Rice Bowls
Love them or hate them, there is no denying that Kogi has influenced the entire landscape of food trucks in Los Angeles (and beyond). And I’m not talking about twitter. These days it is hard to find a single food truck that doesn’t serve some kind of fusion taco, and it looks like Chego- their new brick and mortar restaurant near Palms- might be having the same effect on the restaurants in the vicinity.
Chego, which serves Kogi-esque rice bowls with various toppings (an “upscale Yoshinoya” if you will) is still not open for lunch (much to my disappointment!) but Rio Brazil Cafe, located just a few doors down, is trying to fill the void. Known for their feijoada, which traditionally is only served on the weekends, Rio Brazil Cafe has tried to capitalize on the new attention being paid to their previously deserted strip mall by beefing up their lunch options. I stopped by for lunch while Chego was under construction, and the restaurant was a ghost town. Lunch options were limited mostly to sandwiches, and nothing looked too great. Since Chego opened they’ve started serving the feijoada every day, and the walls are papered with specials- including a $7 lunch plate, and (naturally) a $6 Brazilian “chopped steak bowl”.
I headed over on Friday to check it out.
Sadly the feijoada is a bit out of my price range at $15 (we try to keep things under $10 here on Midtown Lunch) so instead we decided to try the lunch specials.
For $7 you get steak topped with grilled onions, rice, black beans, chopped collards, and roasted cassava flour- plus a side salad. The steak was pounded thin, and lightly marinated, but it was more “tender enough” than tender. In the end, it’s tough to complain for $7… and once you mixed everything together it was a tasty lunch. If you like steak, and Brazilian style side dishes, you’re not going to find a cheaper version on the west side, that’s for sure. Not interested in steak, they’ll make the same platter with pounded thin grilled chicken breast.
Skip the sandwiches. Not terrible, but at $8.25 they aren’t particularly interesting, and more expensive than the lunch special (even though they’re made with the same meat.)
At $5.99, the rice bowl is easily the cheapest option you’ve got. The chunks of beef, which have been sauteed with peppers and onions, are even less tender than the steak, but once you mix it all together with the rice and beans, it’s fine. Not a ton strong flavors, and the bowl isn’t huge, but once you top it with their pimenta, a lightly colored hot pepper paste, the whole thing comes alive (they don’t bring it out automatically, though. I think you have to ask for it.)
None of this food will ever be a substitute for one of the flavor bombs that is a Chego rice bowl, and from other reviews I’ve read about Rio Brazil Cafe these lunch specials are child’s play compared to some of the dishes they put out on the weekends. But until Chego opens for lunch, you could do a lot worse in the area. Next time, I’ll probably just suck it up and pay the $$ for their feijoada.
- Home cooked Brazilian food, in a casual environment
- Where else can you a decent Brazilian steak, rice and beans, and a salad for $7 on the Westside!?
- Their feijoada is the real deal
- The sandwiches are totally not worth it
- The steak is kind of tough, and most of the dishes didn’t have a ton of flavor
- You get what you pay for. The cheap lunch specials aren’t nearly as good as the feijoada or other specialties they serve on the weekends
- It’s a tiny operation, and they don’t do a ton of volume during the week- so they don’t always have have everything on the menu
- Usually there is only one person working (two at the most) and she does all the cooking and everything, so it can take *forever*
Rio Brazil Cafe, 3300 Overland Ave (on Rose), 310-558-3338