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Posts tagged ‘Cafe/Bakery/Deli’

Brasil Coffee House

1/2 So, I grew up in the freaking coffee capital of the US (or is that Seattle? I get confused. Maybe Portland is the nation’s microbrew capital, though I swear on some horrible Food Network show I was trying not to pay attention to said that Denver had that honor) but all I drink is black drip coffee. Even though I choose to drink sucky coffee cart coffee, I can tell when coffee doesn’t suck.

Brasil_coffee_house_yuca_cakeI wouldn’t be opposed to drinking Brasil Coffee House’s product if one existed anywhere near me. And almost more importantly, their yuca cakes, croquettes and cheesey pan de queijo are way more exciting than muffins (but then, I’m muffin averse). By the way, that's not a muffin on the right–it's a springy, coconut-topped yuca cake that just happens to be in a muffin wrapper.

Read my review on

Brasil Coffee House * 48-19 Vernon Blvd., Long Island City, NY

Confiteria Buenos Aires Bakery & Café

1/2 I seem to have it in my head that I love South American bakeries even though Chilean San Antonio Bakery is the only one in NYC I’ve actually been to. There’s an Uruguayan one in Woodside that’s perpetually on my to try list. In the spring, I attempted another Uruguayan bakery that I think was called La Nueva but it had turned Italian and was covered in a Grand Opening banner. I picked up a tasty mini cheesecake but that wasn’t my original goal.

Confiteria_buenos_airesSo, perhaps it’s a bit premature to declare my love of South American bakeries but Confiteria Buenos Aires in Miami certainly bolstered my feelings. I like these places because on the surface they them seem to be all about sweets, yet they also tend to have interesting sandwiches and sell imported groceries from behind the counter like an old-timey mercantile.

On Labor Day proper, The Miami café was bustling enough to require taking a number. Fine by me because I like order and it prevents awkward and frequently inaccurate NYC-style sideways lining up. I was overwhelmed with choice and could only pick a few things because a cubano was scheduled for our next stop.

Confiteria_buenos_aires_cookiesI wish I knew what things were called but there wasn’t any signage and everyone even the least Hispanic-looking (I know that’s a ridiculous call with Argentina since the population is heavily European in origin) customers spoke fluent Spanish. That’s something that struck me about Miami compared to NYC. You certainly hear Spanish here but not to the same degree. Even in the Keys, at a seafood shack, all of the diners and waiters were speaking Spanish. I would definitely get up to speed with my language skills quicker in Florida.

We got an OK spinach empanada, a ham and cheese sandwich that was dazzlingly sweet/savory (one of the world’s best flavor duos) because it was on sugared crackly pastry like a napoleon, and an incredibly dense dulce de leche roll. You could barely even cut it with a plastic fork the caramel was so thick.



Others seemed to be enjoying a breaded chicken cutlet sandwich, eggy tortilla/quiche wedges, and what appeared to be croquettes of some sort. There was a stack of crustless tea sandwiches in a domed refrigerated countertop case. Those never tend to be that exciting (except for the bizarre England by way of Malaysia interpretations with prawn sambal) but I do wonder what the fillings were. I should’ve picked up some alfajores. So many should haves, would haves. I’m just glad that we didn’t skip over this seemingly non-essential shop.

Confiteria Buenos Aires Bakery & Café * 7134 Collins Ave., Miami, FL

Sanborns & Bisquets

Sanborns_view I cannot rest until I post all eating venues from Mexico City, no matter how banal. (Not true—I won’t go into Geisha, the pan-Asian restaurant that coats all sushi in cream cheese. I later learned that’s a common Mexican addition. Or the nondescript café where I discovered molletes, a pizza bread smeared with refried beans and topped with melted cheese and frequently chorizo. Apparently, this is a typical breakfast dish because I saw it on a lot of menus.)

Sanborns_breadI merge Sanborns and Los Bisquets Obregon together because they’re both chains in a Denny’s vein. That’s sort of a strange reference considering I haven’t been to one in probably a decade (I take that back—I did eat at one in Reading, PA around 2001) if only because they don’t exist here.

Sanborns’s food is no great shakes but they’re ubiquitous like Duane Reade and reliable for a bathroom, atm and genuinely crisp air conditioning. (Like Spain, Mexicans aren’t as into being artificially cooled as Americans. That’s one thing you could count on in all the modern Asian cities I’ve visited: surprisingly solid air conditioning. Sanborns_tacosI enjoy the swampy to sweat-stopping contrast as opposed to experiencing varying degrees of warmth.) And their original location in the Casa de los Azulejos (house of tiles) is full of 16th century charm. The same couldn’t be said of Denny’s.

We were too late for breakfast so I had to settle for pibil tacos, which were on the oily side but not hideous. I always anticipated the bread basket and pickle dish because you never knew what might turn up in either. Here, you received an overwhelming amount of crackers, rolls and tortilla chips.

Bisquets_cafeI was thinking Bisquets in Roma was closer to our hotel than it was. I just wanted to try the café con leche even though I’m normally a black coffee drinker. They prepare the coffee tableside using one pitcher of coffee and one with milk, which gets poured from high in the air almost like Malaysian teh tarik, though not quite as dramatically.

Bisquets_bread I liked how they come around with a baked goodie basket while you’re perusing the menu (they’re not freebies but it’s a nice touch). Bisquets also had baby potatoes in their spicy pickled mixture. I’d seen cauliflower at cantina in Coyoacan but potatoes were strange and new. I then picked a crazy breakfast jumble of eggs, tomato sauce, peas, American cheese, plantains and tortillas, which was no fault but my own. Bisquets_breakfastIt seemed more Caribbean than what I’d eaten in D.F., more like crazy mishmashes I’ve eaten in Colombian restaurants. Of course, I ended up nearly cleaning my plate, crazy breakfast or not.

Sanborns * Madero 4, Mexico City, Mexico

Los Bisquets Obregon * Av. Alvaro Obregón  No. 60, Mexico City, Mexico

St. Viateur

After three Montreal excursions, it seemed ridiculous that I'd never tried their bagels. I'm no purist, so its not that I'm a NYC-style bagel snob. It just never occurred to me to sample theirs. It's an interesting beast. At St. Viateur they come hot from the oven, and perhaps this is the best state to eat them in. Chewy while warm, they harden like a pretzel when cooled. Compared to NYC bagels theyre smaller, with a big hole, and denser and sweeter (I think they use honey in the water bath). They seem better suited to eating plain like a snack, rather than as a conduit for cream cheese and spreads. I liked them a lot, but for me its all about the schmear, and with Montreal bagels you feel more like youre eating cheese and crackers.

St. Viateur Bagels * 263 St. Viateur W., Montreal, Canada


For some reason we ended up on Magazine St. more than any other road in the city, and yet I almost missed this little place. That would've been a shame. In a touristy fit, I decided I needed pralines but was put off by all the overpriced pecan confections on Decatur St. James surprised me by remembering a big bright store-side mural touting pralines that we'd passed the night before.

Right, it was Tee-Eva's. Pralines are in their name, but I was afraid it was no more than a snowball (snow cones minus the cone) stand. And I wasn't sure it was even open, so I kept surveillance in the comfort of our air-conditioned rental car. The small brightly painted structure only has a take out window, and while scoping it out, customers paused for icy treats, not brown sugary disks.

As it turned out, they not only had pralines, but mini pies (pecan being my all-time favorite) and daily savory specials like catfish and macaroni and cheese, too. Everything was homemade and freshly baked and crafted. And their snowballs werent bad either.

Tee-Eva's Famous Pies and Pralines * 4430 Magazine St., New Orleans, LA

Morning Call

Being my second New Orleans visit, I thought I'd branch out from Cafe du Monde and try the other 24-hour beignet place. It's smaller, indoors, and woody in an old-timey style. The beignets arrive naked, and you shake on the powdered sugar to your taste. It's a nice touch, considering how overboard they go with the confectioners sugar at Cafe du Monde, but to be perfectly honest the fried dough just didn't match up. It lacked the crispy, fried exterior and was merely a soft sweet chewy rectangle. As popular and tourist crazed as it is, Cafe du Monde makes a better beignet.

Morning Call * 3325 Severn Ave., Metairie, LA

Cafe Lalo

Cutesy Upper West Side cafe that Ill probably never go to again. But they do have an impressive dessert case. See my Time Out NY Eating & Drinking Guide review.

Cafe Lalo * 201 W. 83d St., NewYork, NY


No one told me that Hua Hin was a German enclave. Or for that matter that like 85% of the foreigners in Thailand are German. Why? What's this about? But then, why ponder such questions when seeing Thai waitstaff in lederhosen and dirndls make you forget. 

We tried Sunshine for breakfast. The offerings were pretty basic: simple omelets and Museli. No gut-busting plates of bacon, hashbrowns, buttered toast and pancakes here. There was an abundance of Maggi sauce, which I don't get. Is it for Asians or Europeans? It's soy based, correct? I definitely know it's not for Americans. 

The open-air restaurant also housed a bakery and internet café. The bakery was doing a brisk business, selling heavy brown breads, cheese and sausages. So seemingly incompatible for the sweltering S.E. Asian climate, yet so amazingly popular. Most of these Austrian, Germanic joints also do Thai food, which I was too chicken to try. What there ought to be are Thai-German fusion restaurants. Yeah, it'll be the big food trend in 2004.

Sunshine Restaurant & Bakery * 130 Naresdamri Rd., Hua Hin, Thailand

Cafe du Monde

Who knew beignets and chicory cafe au lait could be so addictive. I couldn't get enough of those fried squares of dough–we went twice in one day.

What confuses me is how cans of Cafe du Monde coffee made it into Hong Kong Supermarket in Sunset Park. I noticed more than a few Asian waiters at the cafe. What if there's a covert smuggling operation going on? Who cares as long as I benefit. Now, if they'd only find a way to sneak warm, sugar-covered beignets into my neighborhood too. (2/23/02)

New Orleans is odd in that many (though certainly not all) tourist heavy haunts still offer good food. It's pretty rare in NYC to find a place that pleases visitors as well residents. Caf du Monde is crowded, potentially confusing (people seem to have a hard time figuring out if youre supposed to just take a table or wait to be seated, and then whether or not someone is supposed to come out and take your order) and youre in dangerously close proximity to overzealous street performers. But its all good. At least the beignets are. I try not to get too unnerved by all the women in scrunchies and fitted denim shorts, and men in polos and their pleated khaki shorts.

  I'm trying to figure out the Vietnamese/Caf du Monde connection. In NYC, youll frequently see cans of the stuff in Vietnamese restaurants, often integrated into make shift shrines. Almost all the wait staff at Caf du Monde are Vietnamese, as well. I could understand a Japanese fondness since they have franchises in Japan. But Vietnam? Is it just some odd hold over Francophila, or is there something deeper at work? (7/13/04)

Cafedu Monde * 1039 Decatur St., New Orleans,LA