Ever since a volunteer paralegal brought some Brazilian goodies to work and shared with us the secret of where to buy them, I'd been dying to go to Cafe di Casa. Unfortunately, there just never seemed a good excuse to make the trek all the way to South San Francisco.
My opportunity finally came in March. After dragging my parents to volunteer at one of our naturalization workshops in the city, I made them make a stop at Cafe di Casa on the way home. Just as the Brazilian paralegal described it, Cafe di Casa was a tiny, but cheerful-looking shack right alongside the highway:
Luckily, we found some street parking a bit up a ways and didn't have to resort to any illegal parking maneuvers.
Why I say tiny, I really mean tiny. Cafe di Casa is basically made up of stools lining counter space enough for maybe seven or eight people:
We were the only people there who didn't speak Portuguese. I couldn't pronounce anything on the menu, but that didn't prevent me from going a bit crazy with the ordering.
I had to try the pao de queijo, a baked cheese bread ($2):
It was one of the last ones in the display case, which is probably why it was on the stale side:
I was a little disappointed because I was so prepared to love it.
The Brazilian paralegal was adamant that ordering the feijoada is a must. Which is why I purposely made it a point to go to Cafe di Casa on a Saturday, the only day when feijoada is offered.
The feijoada came with rice, sliced collard greens, and what I later Googled to discover was farofa:
The farofa was the most interesting thing on that plate. I'd never had anything like it. Made with manioc (yuca) flour, the powdery mixture is toasted with butter, salt, and little chunks of smoked meat. It was a little strange at first, but I quickly discovered how delicious it was mixed with rice.
Feijoada is a black bean stew with smoked sausage, dried beef, and pork ribs:
So thick and intensely flavorful. Don't be put off by the bones. That's what makes the stew so damn good.
Our other two entrees came with rice, salad, corn, and of course, farofa:
We got the peixe a milanesa or breaded tilapia:
And the bife acebolado or steak with grilled onions:
The steak was very thin and also very well done. For bloody carnivores like my father and I, it wasn't the way we liked our beef. The fish, on the other hand, was brilliant. Freshly fried, the fish itself was so moist and heavenly.
All three entrees cost $12 each and all came with a separate bowl of beans:
Too full to eat any more, I ordered the rest to go:
The whole reason why I wanted to go to Cafe di Casa was to get my hands - or more accurately, my teeth - around some coxinhas ($3 each). Once I describe it to you, you'll understand my obsession.
Coxinhas are giant teardrops of fried magical goodness. Think fried mashed potatoes filled with shredded chicken and cream cheese:
Kind of tangy and oh-so-soft, coxinhas are addicting. Certain things are not meant for sharing. Coxinhas are one of those.
I also ordered discos ($3 each):
Essentially a beef patty, but discos are not as simple as they sound. The flavor is exquisite. Definitely not your average beef patty. I ordered a separate box of coxinhas and discos to drop off for T. T reported back later that her mother enjoyed the discos the most.
My mom wanted to try the milho risole. I ordered one and the lady behind the counter threw in two extra small things:
The risole was filled with cream corn and cheese and encased with the same mashed potato-like dough as the coxinha:
Which definitely made me a fan.
I was charmed when I discovered that the two tiny fried dollops were mini milho risoles:
Those two mini bites of love were just the start of a bunch of free stuff we got from Cafe di Casa. The lady who took our order must have seen how excited we were to try everything (or was extremely grateful by the amount of money we spent) because she gave us this entire box stuffed full of free pastries:
There was an esfirra de carne, a baked bread filled with ground beef, tomato, and olives:
Probably my favorite of the bunch.
And a presunto americano, which was a baked pastry with ham, mozzarella, and tomato:
And another baked pastry (I don't know what it's called) filled with shredded chicken, olives, and tomato:
And finally, an abracadinho, which was filled with ham, shredded chicken, olices, and cheese:
That's about $12 worth of free goodies. Holy moly.
But that wasn't all. She also threw in some Brazilian truffles for dessert. Two kinds, one coconut (beijinho) and one chocolate fudge (brigadeiro):
Super decadent and super sweet. Half a truffle is enough at a time.
I love, love, love Cafe di Casa. The food is the bomb diggity and the atmosphere is homey and relaxed. When I tried to pay right after placing my order at the cashier, the lady waved me off with a laugh and told me not to worry about it until after I'd eaten.
I've been there twice now (the second time being on T's birthday on our way up to Tomales Bay) and both times I've tried to cajole them into opening a branch in San Jose. Both times, they just chuckled and gave me free stuff.
I'm not going to give up though. I need easy access to coxinhas!
Cafe di Casa
1165 Airport Blvd
South San Francisco, CA 94080