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SOBs: Lunch in Brazil right off the 1 Train!

Shrimp Ceviche

It’s not everyday you can hop on a Subway to South America, enjoy a delicious lunch, and head right back to school for your Contemporary Civilizations midterm.  Or is it?  With the opening of the new SOBs Lunch Café, Latin American midday study breaks full of delicious, affordable food are totally possible—Maneiro

A friend and I headed down to 204 Varick St where we were energetically greeted by welcoming smiles and festive Hebrew (and here I thought I was done with Hebrew class for the day) music.  While SOBS is known as a lively nightlife location, the atmosphere was perfect for a lunch escape, as they turn down the music and turn up the heat of the kitchen.  Colorful lights and international music (think Juanes along with Bob Sinclar and other unknown but awesome artists) offered a pleasant escape from the workday.  Tables full of ladies who lunch alongside smaller tables of business people equipped with laptops and Blackberrys provided a nice variety of lunchtime company.

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Esperanto’s Flirtatious Fare

Fellow Value Buccaneers,

The search through the murky culinary ocean that is New York has led me to drop anchor (temporarily that is). I’ve dug my toes into the silky sands of Esperanto. It’s no paradise, but it’s definitely a pleasant surprise. The restaurant mixes Brazilian, Peruvian, and Caribbean cuisines to create what I would consider a “flirtatious menu”. It’s the type of menu on which every dish is intelligently put together in a way that causes your pallet to salivate, but doesn’t shepherd customers to a single dish.

In every restaurant, however, there’s a specific path to squeezing the true goodness out of the experience – some dishes are overpriced and others simply badly executed. Here’s the Esperanto path:

Firstly, dinner there on Mondays is a must. Bottles of wine are half price (I recommend the LAN Rioja 2006 which is priced at 17 on Mondays; an excellent strong-flavored Spanish red) and the restaurant isn’t packed like other days during the week. On weekends (Friday through Sunday) the restaurant becomes incredibly packed and I would suggest making a reservation. However, avoid nights like this, the kitchen is small and easily collapses, causing a fluctuation in the serving time and the overall consistency of the food. Service is generally good, but on nights like these where the restaurant is gasping for air to stay afloat service goes out the window. Not to mention that the specials always run out by 9PM. Stick to Mondays, you’ll thank me later.

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A Little Brazil in the Big City

Sometimes the Upper East Side can feel like a Stepford town, where the ivy-covered brownstones are as indistinguishable as their owners and the local restaurants feel interchangeable. Somewhere in between the monotonous blur of power-walking housewives and black town cars toting businessmen to and from Wall Street, lies a quaint Brazilian restaurant that offers an exciting alternative to the usual favorites.  Zebu Grill is a cozy restaurant with a rustic feel.  Tucked away on a quiet side street, the friendly staff is quick to make you feel at home.  The menu offers a wide array of authentic Brazilian cooking, enhanced by the charming ambiance and the killer drink menu that keep you wanting more. Zebu Grill

A friend of mine had recently taken a trip to Brazil and was raving about Brazil’s national drink called the caipirinha.  Feeling adventurous, we decided to find a Brazilian restaurant that offered this exotic cocktail.  Though New York is deservedly known for its variety of cuisines from all over the world, there are surprisingly few Brazilian restaurants offering quality meals at affordable prices.  For this reason, Zebu Grill is truly a great find.  Though their menu caters mostly to meat lovers, though there are vegetarian options and delicious seafood dishes that provide lighter but no less delectable alternatives.  The drinks can be a little pricey, but they are absolutely worth the splurge.  Zebu’s house mixologist offers a variety of colorful drinks that all have a touch of Brazil; the typical caipirinha, made with limes, Leblon cachaça (a Brazilian alcohol much like vodka), and a hint of sugar also comes in fruitier varieties called caipifrutas that are infused with fresh mango, cashew, passion fruit, guava or lemon in addition to the usual ingredients. 

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