I finally trickedconvinced my husband into resurrecting Date Night and it began last night with a trip to a small, but popular, Brazilian restaurant in Inman Square — Muqueca. According to their website, the owners of the restaurant — Fatima (Fafa) and Antonio Gomez “wanted to show Brazilian Cookery at its finest, and bringing with them dishes that they grew up with while living in Brazil.” Additionally…
MUQUECA, is the name of one of the main dishes cooked in homes in Espirito Santo. In order to prepare the Moqueca in the same way the Native Brazilians did for centuries, Fafa and Antonio ordered clay pots crafts that came directly from Brazil. A typical craft made by Mrs. Ilza. Ilza has devoted her life to perfecting the MOQUECA pot for more than half a century.
Natural juices of exotic fruits from the Amazon Rain Forest like: Açaí, Cupuaçú, Graviola and Acerola, complete the Brazilian flavors of their menu.
I came across Muqueca on Yelp, and was immediately drawn to the raves and positive reviews. We were in the mood for something different… so it sounded like a perfect place. I called to see if they take reservations… and they sort of do. They will put your name on a list for the time you think you will arrive. We originally selected 7pm and then called to change our reservation to 7:30pm and added two additional friends, which wasn’t a problem at all. We were seated as soon as we arrived… though there were some jealous people waiting, who gave us the evil eye!
The BIGGEST ISSUE with going to Muqueca is the parking situation. It SUCKS. There is absolutely no parking anywhere to be found… as the restaurant is located right on Cambridge Street. Our friends were lucky — they have Cambridge resident stickers, so they were able to find a spot on a side street with no problem. It took us literally 15-20 minutes of driving around to finally find a spot that opened up. Definitely a big deterrent…. take a taxi or public transportation if you can.
The restaurant is located on a corner and has a cute blue exterior and a very small interior. The walls are adorned with Brazilian arts and crafts and the place appears to be constantly busy — clearly a good sign.
We started our meal with one of the house specialties, Fried Yucca — served with the Chef’s Secret Sauce ($4.95). I had never tried yucca cooked like this before, only yucca chips. The texture is very similar to a potato and the taste is mild, earthy and slightly sweet. The cubes were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside and the sauce was very good. My guess is that it’s a mix of sour cream (or yogurt), lime juice, dill and maybe some seasoning. It was a great starter.
Next up were the Fried Plantains, which are served as a side dish. They were lightly fried and very sweet…
For my meal, I went with the Shrimp Bobó — Shrimp, tomato, cilantro, yucca cream & onion ($14.95). This dish was like nothing I’ve had before, so it’s a little hard to explain. The shrimp were very fresh and the sauce was savory, creamy and filling. It is made with coconut milk, but isn’t sweet at all. It was excellent and more than enough to share if you split an appetizer or two. The yucca cream adds a unique taste to the dish and also makes it a bit heavy. Overall, very good.
The Husband went with the signature dish Shrimp Moqueca— a traditional Brazilian seafood stew ($14.95), made with onions, garlic, tomatoes, cilantro and chili pepper. It was excellent… savory, slightly spicy and warming. Very flavorful without being overly heavy and the shrimp were cooked perfectly. A definite must try.
All the dishes came with seasoned white rice, which was tasty enough to stand on it’s own. We also got some condiments… plantains in a savory sauce and smoked yucca flour, which is used in place of salt as a seasoning for the dishes.
The restaurant doesn’t serve any beer, wine or liquor, but they do make amazing fresh juices. I had the “Brazilian Summer” — pineapple and mint ($3.95). It was SO good… it tasted just like a mojito, but without the alcohol.
Definitely a great little hidden gem… even though it’s not that hidden and always crowded. I recommend trying it during the week and/or finding a way to avoid parking if you can, otherwise it could be a bit of a frustration. The food was excellent, and like I said earlier, different than anything we’ve ever had — I’m really glad that we were able to go last night.
On a final note, they also have a kids menu that offers standard kiddie fare… so I would say it’s a great place for the family as well.