The Girl “in” Ipanema

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I’m sitting here watching, enviably, Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown on CNN.  He’s in Bahia, Brazil sipping cocktails, eating fresh lobster with grilled shrimp, all while taking in the beautiful scenery–and I’m not talking physical landscapes here– there are tons of beautiful Brazilians flaunting their wares in bikini thongs and tight swim trunks.  

Whereas Anthony Bourdain is getting paid to imbibe caipirinhas and seafood on Brazilian beaches, I’ve yet to be as fortunate. But, I did recently have the opportunity to visit one of NYC’s best Brazilian/Portugese restaurants in Little Brazil!  

Want to know more about Little Brazil?  Read my previous article on this ethnic neighborhood.  

The Girl from Ipanema, a song that catapulted a small Brazilian neighborhood in Rio to a household name, most likely served as inspiration for the restaurant I visited in NYC’s Little Brazil aptly named —you guessed it—Ipanema.    

Ipanema Restaurant, Little Brazil, NYC

Ipanema Restaurant, Little Brazil, NYC

Ipanema specializes in Luso-Brazilian (Luso translates to Portugese) cuisine.  It’s a very approachable place; not too she-she nor a hole in the wall–just right.  While Ipanema is located near Times Square, it’s far enough from the hustle and bustle that comes with a throng of excited tourists.  Upon entering the restaurant, I was kindly greeted by the hostess and seated in the back room at a table for two.  The decor and ambiance in Ipanema is tasteful–everything had a clean and polished look without being pretentious.  The wait staff, which was all male, wore white button up shirts with black dress slacks.  The staff attire definitely lends itself to a more upscale feel.  

And most importantly, the food?  It was amazing!  I started with a glass of Maracuja or Passion Fruit juice and Bolinho de Mardioca which is a fried yucca croquette stuffed with ground beef.  The sweet and tart drink paired well with the crispy yucca croquette.  My only complaint?  The serving was on the small side and had me begging for more.  But I can’t complain, this is the best $1.95 I’ve spent in a while on an appetizer. 

Passion Fruit juice and Yucca Croquette

Passiona Fruit juice and Yucca Croquette, Ipanema, NYC

For my main course, I tried the Churrasco Gaucho. Gaucho means cowboy in Spanish and anything good enough for a hard working and hungry cowboy works for me. 

Churrasco Gaucho

Churrasco Gaucho @ Ipanema, NYC

The age grilled marinated shell steak was juicy, tender and perfectly flavored.  Accompanied with the steak were rice with black beans, fried potato discs and farofa which is fried cassava flour, typically sprinkled over rice and beans–all for $20.  

This meal was special, delicious and authentic; definitely a place I’d go to for a special occassion or just because I’m in the neighborhood.  If you’re seeking authentic Brazilian cuisine, check out Ipanema in NYC’s Little Brazil

Ipanema on Urbanspoon

Have you been to Ipanema?  Tell us what you think!

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