Tempero do Brasil // University District // Brazilian // Dinner // $$
5628 University Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105
Paleoness: 3 / 5
Satisfaction: 2 / 5
Regarded by some as the only authentic Brazilian restaurant in Seattle, this lively, mom-and-pop joint’s 15+ years in business means they’re doing something right. But while we loved the vibe and had high hopes for the easily modified menu, the food was less than stellar.
What did you order?
- Peixe do Tempero (halibut fillet in coconut milk, tomato sauce, onions, poblano peppers, and tomatoes); typically served with rice and a black-eyed peas salad, but we asked for it without
- Quiabada (hearty, spicy tender beef and okra stew with Kabocha squash); also typically served with rice
How many ready-made paleo options are on the menu, and what are they?
The two 100% paleo menu items were Vaca Atolada (braised short ribs served with yucca purée and collard greens sautéed with butter, garlic and bacon) and Caldo de Sururu (Bahian-style mussel soup).
Nearly all dishes are served with white rice and beans, and quite a few also include peanuts. So, while technically these can’t be considered paleo, foregoing the rice/beans/peanuts or substituting a side salad (see below) is an easy fix.
How easy would it be to create paleo options with substitutions? Examples?
Salada Tropical (mixed greens, mangoes, toasted cashew nuts, red peppers; you can add chicken) looks like a good bet; just be sure to ask for it without the passion fruit vinaigrette. We learned that the salad dressings are bottled, so they likely contain sugar.
You could order the Festa (crimini mushrooms) without parmesan cheese and rice; the Frango Grelhado (chicken breast) without rice; the Moqueca (a Bahian seafood stew) also sounds delicious (you’ll just have to nix the rice and black-eyed pea salad).
Substituting a side salad for the rice and beans (or skipping them altogether) would be an easy way to paleo-fy nearly every entree. Other simple modifications include:
- Salada Tropical (mixed greens, mangoes, toasted cashew nuts, red peppers; you can add chicken); no passionfruit vinaigrette*
- Festa (crimini mushrooms); no parmesan cheese or rice
- Frango Grelhado (chicken breast); no rice
- Moqueca (Bahian seafood stew); no rice or black-eyed pea salad
- Bife Acebolado (a.k.a. grilled steak); no rice or beans
*Salad dressings are bottled, so they likely contain sugar.
How accommodating is the staff? Are they knowledgeable about the paleo diet?
The staff is quite friendly and accommodating, though it’s unlikely they know about the paleo diet. Our waiter (who also happened to be the owner) seemed slightly taken aback by our request to forego the rice side. He told us rice and beans are at the core of most Brazilian meals, which we didn’t know prior to our visit. (I guess we just had our Americanized “Brazilian steakhouse” blinders on!) Service was decently fast, and despite our persistant questioning, everyone treated us with care.
How satisfied were you with the meal?
Overall, we gave this meal a 2 / 5. The Quiabada entrée was indeed hearty, but it had a strange smell and taste overall. Even before digging in, we noticed the kabocha squash lacked color, and our first bites left us wondering whether they had gone bad. Not good. The beef was disappointingly tough and rubbery, and lacked any real depth of flavor. We kept eating only to fill our growling stomachs.
The Peixe do Tempero was similar to a Thai coconut curry, but without the spice and richness you might expect. It was colorful and filling, but bland overall. Curry from one of the handful of Thai restaurants on The Ave would be a cheaper and tastier bet.
Would you recommend this restaurant to a paleo friend?
Could you eat here enjoyably without telling anyone you’re paleo? (Not that you’d want to!)
Technically, yes. There are two 100% paleo menu items.
We unknowingly showed up on Live Music Wednesday, which happens weekly from 7-9pm. It was a fun, lively vibe, though we’d advise scheduling an intimate date on another night.
Though our experience food-wise wasn’t stellar, Tempero do Brasil’s 15+ years in business means they’re doing something right. Their paleo-friendly selection might be lacking, but if you tolerate rice, butter and/or peanuts, you can find something to fill you up.
The potato puree (Camarão Alho e Óleo) contains dairy.
The Peixe Frito is a tilapia fillet breaded with manioc flour, which is a root vegetable similar to yucca. The breading therefore contains no wheat flour, but severely gluten-intolerant folks will want to confirm that it’s gluten-free.