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Blame it* on the Bossa Nova...Caipirinha Lounge.
*this gut, at least partially
Okay, got that joke out of the way, so now we can get into the good stuff: Bossa Nova is a cute little bar run by (and directly above) Cafe Do Brasil in bustling Midtown. Hop off the OKC Streetcar at the Midtown stop and it’s a quick walk north to Bossa Nova.
The bar serves many drinks, but its most famous and most requested are caipirinhas—Brazil’s national cocktail made with cachaça, the most popular distilled spirit in Brazil.
Drinking cachaça straight will put some hair on your chest, followed immediately by that hair catching fire. It’s distilled from sugarcane and there are several brands which you can really only experience at Bossa Nova.
Don’t expect that burning feeling to completely disappear when you get a caipirinha, because it’s really just sugar, lime, and cachaça over ice. It’s a hearty cocktail, but boy I love drinking them when the weather is sunny. Or when I wish it was sunny. Or if I’m hanging with someone named Sonny. Look, there are a lot of good times for a caipirinha.
And while it’s fine if you want to stop in for a couple of cocktails—you rode the streetcar, so you don’t have to drive—I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that the food is also excellent. And, surprisingly, it’s not identical to the food at Cafe Do Brasil.
Ana Davis owns both Bossa Nova and Cafe Do Brasil and she’s kind of wonderful. I’ve interviewed her a few times and one of the things I love is that she can tell you about all the different parts of Brazil, which is an absolutely enormous country.
The U.S. is roughly 3.8 million square miles. Brazil is about 3.2 million square miles. So when you say “Brazilian food,” it’s like saying, “American food.” What is eaten in one part of that very massive country is not necessarily the same as what you’ll find on the other side. Which is why Davis has traveled and worked all over Brazil, gathering new dishes and ideas for her restaurants.
The menu at Bossa Nova is small, as it should be. It’s not that you can’t have a meal here, but when people go to this bar (as they do with many bars), it’s to drink with occasional snacks, not necessarily to eat with occasional drinks.
I am not most people—legally—so I went and just ate a ton and had one caipirinha.
If you’re in the mood for something light and new, Dadinho ($4) is a personal favorite. It’s also vegetarian, if that’s a thing that matters to you.
Dadinho are cubes of tapioca and queso fresco that are fried to a golden, crispy, chewy perfection and served with a pepper jelly made with biquinho peppers, which has a tart, vinegary pop. These are dangerous, in the sense that I could probably eat them all night before my stomach realizes what’s up. They’re truly delightful. The feeling as your teeth penetrate the crust is addictive.
While it’s not as light, nor as vegetarian, the Pastel de Camarão ($6) are utterly wonderful. They’re basically shrimp-filled empanadas, which either appeals to you in a deep, meaningful sense, or you’re just learning English. If it’s the former, you’re sure to enjoy the sweet peppers and coconut milk sauce inside the flaky pastry shell. If it’s the latter, then you are probably having trouble reading this. For that, I am very sorry. Hopefully your first language is Portuguese, so you already know that Pastel de Camarão is extremely delicious.
We’re slowly getting meatier and meatier, so let’s dig into a plate of Franga a Passarinho ($11). These are little bites of fried chicken on the bone, served with chimichurri sauce.
You’ve had fried chicken. You might have had chimichurri. You should definitely try them together. And the tiny bites—not necessarily chicken wings, mind you—are perfectly sized for nibbling between sips of your cocktail, or while waiting for the annoying food critic you came with to quit talking long enough for you to excuse yourself and run away.
And, if you are that annoying food critic, I recommend drowning your sorrows in another caipirinha and a plate of Costela de Adão ($12). It’s a dish pork spare ribs in a decadently sweet sauce, covered in caramelized onions, served over planks of fried polenta. The ribs are cooked perfectly, with tender, unctuous meat that has the barest grip on the bone, waiting for the gentle nudging of your lips to pull away.
Midtown certainly isn’t hurting for bars. McNellies, Bar Keep, O Bar, Elk Valley, Fassler, Kong’s, R&J, Stella—all great options. But for a little extra privacy and some really tasty Brazilian bar foods, there’s no better place to spend your evening than Bossa Nova.
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