Operated by superchef Mara Alcamin, Universal Diner (CLS, Qd. 210, Bl. B, Lj. 30, tel. 61/3443-2089, 7 p.m.–midnight Mon., noon–3 p.m. and 7 p.m.–midnight Tues.–Sat., noon–4 p.m. Sun., R$35–50) is one of the capital’s most offbeat restaurants, whose clientele mixes alternative types with suits and ties. The whimsical decor is a definite draw—oddities include dangling stuffed animals and a chair designed by B. B. King.
Then there is the outstanding food, which ranges from the simplicity of a well-cooked filet mignon to “sexy shrimp,” (shrimp in a sauce of brie, champagne, and caviar served with strawberry risotto). Although fairly pricy, during the week there are R$30 pratos executivos served at lunch. On Friday nights, dance music erupts from the lower level bar.
Brasilienses can’t get enough of Carpe Diem (CLS, Qd. 104, Bl. D, Lj. 1, tel. 61/3325-5301, noon–1 a.m. daily), which is why there are currently six of these high-quality “rapid” food restaurants scattered around town, each with its own personality. Harried execs prefer the branch in Shopping In Brasília, which specializes in grilled meats and fast service, while cinephiles frequent the Casa Park location before and after film screenings, and families flock to dine at the Terraço Shopping restaurant. The all-round favorite, however, is the original at 104 Sul, which offers a terrific lunch buffet of salads and hot dishes for R$30 as well as à la carte options. The feijoadas (R$30 pp) served on Saturdays are legendary.
For a tasty all-natural lunch at a nice price, head to A Tribo (CLN, Qd. 105, Bl. B, Lj. 52–59, tel. 61/3039-6430, 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m. Tues.–Fri., noon–4 p.m. Sat.–Sun., R$12–20), a laid-back and rustic retreat that offers an organic spread of salads and hot dishes prepared on a wood-burning stove. To quench your thirst there are over a dozen natural fruit juices (try the “bomba”—a serious pick-me-up that mixes guaraná, lime juice, spinach, and mint). The restaurant also opens Thursday nights, offering soups, crêpes, and pizzas as well as live music.
The same owners (originally from Angola) also opened the harder to get to, but very enchanting Oca da Tribo (Setor de Clubes Esportivos Sul, Trecho 2, tel. 61/3226-9880, noon–3 p.m. Mon., noon–3 p.m. and 7 p.m.–midnight Tues.–Sat., noon–4 p.m. Sun.). The restaurant is housed in an immense oca (a traditional Indian dwelling) with wooden tables, woven reed chairs, and decorative objects made by the Planalto’s Xingu group. The slightly more expensive menu offers organic fare as well as sophisticated à la carte options featuring wild game such as boar, buffalo, and ostrich. Weekend buffets are more lavish. Friday and Saturday evenings are animated by live music and romantic torch lighting. To get here, you’ll need to take a taxi.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition