Sinha offers standard Brazilian feast

While everyone focuses on Mardi Gras this Fat Tuesday, Carnivale is another celebration going on right now in Brazil and the edible traditions are available in Chicago, thanks to Sinha, one tiny restaurant that does most of its business during brunch.
March 2, 2014 9:53:58 AM PST
The spread at a typical brunch or lunch at Sinha, just a block from the United Center in a cozy little home, is reminiscent of a standard Brazilian feast. But with Carnivale going on now, owner Jorgina Pereira dabbles in street food, and says the days leading up to Fat Tuesday are more raucous than what goes on in New Orleans.

"Somehow I think it's more intense, because people do not stop dancing," said owner Jorgina Pereira.

That means food-on-the-go, like fritters stuffed with chicken or hearts of palm.

"And they do all kinds of foods on skewers, like kebabs," she said.

Skewers can range from chicken to shrimp, to farmer's cheese, drizzled with agave or honey. Sometimes they're dipped in farofa - a powdery dip made from pounded cassava. The restaurant is BYOB, so bring your own cachaca to mix with sugar and limes for a caiparinha, and while you sip, snack on pao de queijo, the infamous cheese bread.

"The pao de queijo is something Brazilians cannot live without, it's like the black beans," said Pereira.

Also hard to live without - if you live in Bahia - is the acarajere. Think black eyed pea batter that's had all of the black removed, fried, then schmeared with a green sauce of bread, coconut milk, nuts and herbs called vatapa.

"And then you slice, you put vatapa, you put a little bit of the shrimp and pico de gallo," she said.

Now Jorgina is going to serve her Sunday brunch like she always does tomorrow - two different seatings - but she also serves lunch four days a week - Tuesday through Friday - and you can bet this Tuesday, Carnivale, is going to be a big day.

Since the dining room is small, reservations are required. But on weekends, and especially since carnivale is going on right now, there will also be traditional Brazilian dancers on hand.

2018 W. Adams St.