Today: Feijoada at Rios Brazilian
Businesses like Rios Brazilian are one of the reasons I love writing this blog. Owners Ben Googins and Elias Martins started Rios at the downtown farmer’s market in 2006, after meeting in Brasil, where Elias grew up and where Ben lived for a handful of years.
I first met Ben when he attended a panel I moderated for Austin food-related small business owners in fall 2009 at Whole Foods Corporate Headquarters. I was immediately taken by his open spirit and passion for making his business succeed. Rio’s products — cheese breads (pao de queijo) and malagueta sauces — are now available at retailers including Whole Foods, Spec’s, Greenling, Royal Blue Grocery, Thom’s Market, Ana Brasil, and at the Saturday downtown farmer’s market and Sunday Hope farmer’s market.
As you can see on the sign, Rios, located in E. Austin on Pleasant Valley Road a few blocks south of E. 7 Street and a few blocks north of Cesar Chavez, boasts a drive-through window to grab a quick cup of coffee on-the-go. They offer Casa Brasil coffee, made with Brazilian beans but roasted in Austin. Breakfast specials include Brazilian breakfast pockets and a coffee from just $4.
Hours are Tuesday through Friday, 7 a.m. – 9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., and Sunday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. (Sunday brunch is 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.). They are closed on Monday.
With seating inside and out, happy hour at Rios is Tuesday through Saturday from 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. and features $1 off drinks and/or the cheese bread trio. Rios offers wine, beer, sake, and fresh fruit drinks so while there is no hard alcohol, they do make creative use of wine and sake to make refreshing mixed drinks. I was surprised to see sake on the menu at first until Jennifer, our waitress, explained that the second largest Japanese population in the world is in Brazil and sake is common on menus there.
I was invited to Rios to sample their Feijoada but can’t wait to go back to check out breakfast. brunch, lunch and dinner someday soon. Their Copacabana salad ($4.50) with beets, candied walnuts, apples, raisins, spinach, tomato, green pepper, and peach white wine vinaigrette was named one of Austin’s 10 best salads in Austin Monthly just this month.
The Apple Buzios salad ($8) was recently recommended by Statesman dining critic Mike Sutter, who calls it “a summer picnic on a plate” with it’s red wine roasted green apple, goat cheese, raisins, candied walnut, spinach, romaine and a white balsamic dressing.
Adam and I were invited by Jennifer S., an enthusiastic staff member and/or manager of Rios Brazilian, to taste their Feijoada – a Portuguese/Brazilian stew made with various meats and black beans, and served with farofa, collard greens, rice, and oranges. Served at Rio’s every last Saturday of the month, you’ll be able to taste it today from 1 p.m. – 9 p.m. for $18 a plate. Farofa is sauteed yucca flour with bananas, garlic and onions. Rich and delicious, I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t had Feijoada before, and bring a friend so you can sample other dishes on the menu as well and share the love.
Jennifer recommended that we try Xingu, an Amazonian black beer (pronounced shin-goo), and it was delicious. Xingu is a recreation of the black beer produced in the Amazon rain forest since the mid-1500s. Sold widely in the U.S. and Brazil, Xingu is also starting to be sold in Australia and England.
Looking at this dark beer, I was expecting a Guinness-like flavor and was pleasantly surprised by this smooth, sweet, and refreshing brew. The sweetness comes from the cassava used to brew the beer. This stuff is so good that I could easily see myself buying it at the grocery store to keep at home.
Jennifer was telling us that Rios will be hosting regular Sunday events with live music. I didn’t see anything listed on their website but will update that information here if I hear about anything coming up. With the weather cooling down (yay mid-90s!), I look forward to spending more time at Rios and soaking in the laid back East Austin vibe.Tags: feijoada, rios brazilian, xingu