The thing about red eye flights (provided that You don’t run into Cillian Murphy) is the next day is always complete and utter hell. There really is no better way to put it. Even if you can sleep anywhere, I can’t, you are not going to get a good night’s sleep in economy. You will wake up groggy, a little grumpy, and feel like you have a hangover. It is fact, but I take these flights to maximize time in my destination. So after checking in at the hotel, getting breakfast, and a few hours exploring Rockefeller Center we were feeling it. At this point, the only thing that cheer me up is Brazilian Cheese Bread. So we hit the subway and headed to Pão de queijo.
Brazilian Cheese Bread
This is a love story. My love story. The best and truest love story written. A story about my true love. Sorry, Stephanie it isn’t you, it’s Brazilian cheese bread. I first laid eyes on my love when I was a teenager at a Brazilian Steakhouse for my brother’s graduation. They brought this basket of bread to our table. I love bread, so I immediately grabbed a roll. Little did I know that the moment I bit in it would be love. I did not know, and had no way of knowing that this bread had a warm beautiful cheesy core. They do say beauty is on the inside.
As I grew older, I had not returned to that Brazilian restaurant. They are quite expensive and I was a poor struggling student. But I dreamed of that bread every night, knowing that I would one day meet her again. As the years passed it became a haunting, a nightmare it was so close but just out of reach. Until I forgot about her. I forgot about Brazilian cheese bread. I met Stephanie and I was very happy, but of course at that fateful moment, cheese bread comes back into my life.
On an evening, not unlike tonight, Stephanie and I went to Epcot’s Food and Wine Festival. Walking past the Brazilian booth my world was instantly illuminated. It was like I saw a reflection of earth and fireworks went off. Not just in my head, but all around me. As I got my bit in, I knew I had found my perfect match. From that point on any time we passed the Brazilian booth (we were annual pass holders so it happened a lot) I had to buy an order of cheese bread. It was love. Plain and simple.
Pão de queijo
As I researched restaurants in New York, I kept stumbling upon the name of a restaurant in Astoria that people seemed to love, Pão de queijo. A Brazilian restaurant that is known for being extremely affordable and exceptionally good. As I love Brazilian food I knew I wanted to go. Then I translated the name from Portuguese. CHEESE BREAD. Be still my aching heart! The restaurants’ name is CHEESE BREAD. In an instant I knew. We were going to Pão de Queijo it was not an option.
Pão de Queijo is located in Astoria, outside of Manhattan. Luckily, in New York, with the subway, nothing is too far. Depending where you are in Manhattan, Astoria is typically about a 30 minute ride by train. So not bad whatsoever. They are located in a very small shop not too far from the train station. When I say small, I mean it, it must get good take out business, because it only seats about 20 people.
Other than cheese bread, Pão de Queijo is known for its Brazilian-style burgers, sandwiches, and empanadas. Sounds delicious right?
I ordered the X Calabresa. A Beef Burger; brazilian smoked sausage, cheeses, corn, potato sticks, lettuce, tomato, and mayo.
Stephanie ordered a the Coxinha De Frango and the soup of the day. An Empanada filled with Potato, Chicken & Cheese and collard green and ham soup.
And of course, we got two full orders of cheese bread
It was heaven.
Everything we had was pretty fantastic. Despite having an appetizer of copious amounts of cheese bread I ate every bite of my burger. As odd of a combination beef, sausage, corn, and potato sticks sound, was great. The flavors all worked in perfect harmony, to make for a truly fantastic burger.
This being said, Stephanie won. The best bite of the meal, and maybe the best bite of the day was Stephanie’s Chicken, potato, and cheese empanada. Nothing is better than hot melty cheese fresh from the frier. Combine that with potato and some chicken and you have perfection. Stephanie said the empanada was unlike any she has ever tired. She is accustomed to empanadas being pockets of flaky dough filled with goodness, but these were a ball of layered comfort food. Each bite revealed a new flavor. A combination of creamy cheese, smooth potato, and perfectly seasoned chicken.
Most of the Sandwiches/Burgers are going to run you less than $10. If you go with one of their meat plates (which include meal rice, beans, salad, and fries) you are looking at closer to $13. Our meal consisting of a Burger, 2 orders of cheese bread, soup, and an empanada ran us $22.50 before tax and tip. Given the amount of food we got, and that a normal person would only need one order of a cheese bread, the prices here are excellent. Especially for New York where prices can be crazy high.
I love cheese bread. Pão de Queijo makes fantastic cheese bread, well they better its their namesake, but it doesn’t stop there. Pão de Queijo’s entire menu is filled with some of the best Brazilian and Brazilian inspired food you will find in New York, and all of it at price that wont break the bank.