New York City's Botequim Offers a Chic, Immersive Brazilian Experience Below Ground
Located below ground, the restaurant immerses you in a whole new world as soon as your foot touches that bottom step — the world of São Paulo, to be exact.
However, Botequim, a Portuguese word that translates roughly to “snack bar” or “tavern” in English, actually doesn’t quite translate on execution.
That’s because the dimly lit space with low-back chairs and straw lanterns makes for a high-end yet cozy vibe, and a second dining area with family-style tables, situated near the open kitchen, is equally upscale. In that room, a mural commissioned especially for the restaurant by artist Marc Mazurkiewic pays homage to street art around the world.
Executive chef Marco A. Moreira and his wife and partner, Jo-Ann Makovitzky, own several other fan favorites including Tocqueville, 15 East, and the Fourth — but this one, he says, has really allowed him to express his “passion for Brazil.”
That expression comes through in the shared plates, or salgadinhos. Order assorted pastelzinhos, or flaky hand pies filled with ground beef, cheese or braised hearts of palm; the pao de queijo, or Brazilian cheese bread, which is already a trademark; and pair it with the calabresa acebolada, grilled Brazilian sausage and onions.
If you have room after that, order the picanha, an aged prime top sirloin whole roasted with ali-olio, and have it with a side of yucca fries.
Until I descended into Botequim, I had never before tried Brazilian food. Since all of the places I knew of were green-awning, aluminum-container, fast-food joints, I was holding out for my first time to be special — and I have no regrets about giving it up to this hospitality power couple.