Carioca started out in Brixton Village’s Market Row back in 2012. Now, you can enjoy a ‘bite of Brazil’ at the new Rio hot spot at Croydon’s Boxpark. Sip caipirinhas and go full-on Carnival with the team’s innovative take on Brazilian street food. We go behind the scenes with owner Maurilio Goncalves to find out more.

Who are the team behind Carioca?

We have a fantastic and dedicated team. Head chef Lucy (Lucineia Cinotti) and myself are the people who our customers may well be more familiar with after visiting our restaurant in Brixton Village’s Market Row, as well as our new Rio street food unit at Boxpark Croydon.

Describe Carioca in three words…

Colour, passion, exotic!

Carioca

The Pele

Tell us about your influences…

Of course, Brazil and Rio street food are big inspirations for us, but also Latin culture as a whole, with its wonderful fresh food and all of its vibrant colours!

And your travels?

My favourite places that I have visited so far are Iguazu Falls and Bahia, Brazil. I’m also very much in love with Barcelona – I love the Spanish culture and relaxed lifestyle.

Carioca

Cariocas’ head chef, Lucineia Cinotti, and owner, Maurilio Goncalves

What can we expect at Carioca’s new location at Croydon’s Boxpark?

Visitors can enjoy many of our most popular dishes, like our all-day brunch maize muffins – including the Copacabana, with poached egg, pulled braised beef, fried plantain, black bean stew and sour cream – and eye-catching evening dishes, such as our Brazilian-style bun, The Pele (pictured above) –  melt-in-your-mouth cuts of Jacob’s Ladder beef ribs, with churrasco sauce, chicken, pineapple and red cabbage slaw, topped off with Gloucester cheese, bacon, crispy onion and a fried egg in a brioche bun.

Carioca at Croydon will also serve lots of popular Brazilian street food, like Esfihas – baked dough parcels filled with spicy chicken or cheese – and Pastel de Nata, our sweet custard tarts. And not forgetting our infamous Caipirinha cocktails, of course!

How would you describe Brazilian food?

Hearty, satisfying and full of flavour. Brazilian food is heavily influenced by all of the different cultures that have made the area their home, from the Portuguese to native South Americans.

Carioca

Favela Cantalago

What ingredients should we keep at home to add a Brazilian twist to home cooking?

Farofa, black beans or pinto beans, cassava, pineapples, plantain.

What top dishes should we try for Brazilian culture and flavours?

Feijoada is Brazil’s national dish – a rich stew of black beans slow-cooked with chorizo, pork ribs, beef and lean pork. For a taste of modern Brazil’s culture and lively personality, I recommend trying The Pele or our Favela Cantalago (pictured above), with slow-cooked, pulled braised beef and bell peppers, onions and spices, topped with banana and bacon farofa, plus white cabbage slaw on top of fried cassava.

Name your local love for food and drink in London.

Nanban in Brixton. Amazing place, fantastic food.

Carioca | Unit 8, Boxpark Croydon, 99 George Street, Croydon CR0 1LD | Opening hours: Monday-Thursday, 8am-10pm; Friday, 8am-11pm; Saturday, 9am-11pm; Sunday, 9am-10pm

Images: Michal Dzierza

Read more Behind the Scenes interviews here…

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