Cheap Eats

Family-Run Mundo Café Offers a Taste of Brazil

Courtesy of Mundo Cafe
Run by a family of Brazilian chefs, Mundo Café occupies a corner inside the lobby of the Miami Green office building near Coral Gables. Co-owner Samuel Soares can usually be found behind the counter. When he was 9 years old, his mother, Vera da Silva, taught him and his siblings how to bake their first dessert, a Brazilian brigadeiro cake. The family matriarch wanted to work from home so she could take care of her children, and a catering business was her choice.

Almost 20 years ago, she moved her family to Miami, where their creative energy was fueled by the city's diversity. Samuel specialized in business and finance, his brother Salomão studied fusion food, and Fábio, the youngest of the three, excelled at French cuisine. Before opening their first café in South Miami, the Pastry Shop, they built their credentials working at franchises and hotels, including Au Bon Pain, the Mandarin Oriental, and the Ritz-Carlton.

At Mundo, the brothers offer a simple yet delectable food journey: Cuban breakfast is a prix fixe (for $4.99) that includes tostada, eggs, and ham. A Brazilian version of the morning meal consists of misto quente (grilled cheese), cheese bread, and a small orange juice ($5.25).

For lunch, there are plenty of sandwich and wrap options ($6.99), including a chicken caesar wrap, an avocado BLT, an oven-hot picanha steak, and a French Cuban ($7.50). Caesar, tuna ($6.99), and Cobb ($7.25) salads round out the options. The white, wheat, and quinoa breads are baked by the family in a downtown kitchen, where all the other offerings are also cooked daily from scratch.

The texture of the fried coxinha de frango — a chicken fritter with melted Catupiry cheese inside ($2.99) — is a delight. Paired with a small bowl of chicken tortilla soup ($4.50), it's the perfect afternoon meal.
click to enlarge COURTESY OF MUNDO CAFE
Courtesy of Mundo Cafe
Vera's signature pastries and cakes are still the heart of the operation. Try the quindim — a glistening yellow baked Brazilian dessert made with sugar, egg yolks, and ground coconut — so shiny you can see the overhead lights reflected on its surface ($3.50). Be dazzled by the beijinhos (little kisses), brigadeiros, passionfruit mousse, and all of the other enticing docinhos (90 cents each).

Regulars from the nearby Shops at Merrick Park and residents of South Miami and Coral Gables walk in and out any time of the day. Soares notes that Brazilian patrons come from as far as Pinecrest to get their hands on something that's homemade and hearty and transports them back to their homeland.

For the past fours years, the Soareses have received many offers to branch out and expand, but they've declined. "This is about family," Samuel says. "We want this to be our legacy."

Mundo Café. 3150 SW 38th Ave., Miami; 305-446-0937. Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.