Chicken catupiry tapioca
Chicken catupiry tapioca
Courtesy of Sagrado Cafe

Sagrado Cafe in Downtown Miami Offers Sweet and Savory Brazilian Treats

At Sagrado Cafe, more than a good meal vies for your attention.

The 3,200-square-foot space, located across the street from the Frost Museum of Science, includes an open pastry kitchen, where the staff bakes sweet and savory items to the soundtrack of bossa nova tunes.

The café is the creation of Brazilian natives Taciana Kalili and Vanessa Hida, both Le Cordon Bleu graduates, who planned the venture for two years before launching it. With a keen eye for presentation, Hida helms the production of Brazilian recipes.

Kalili, founder of the Brazilian confectionery Brigaderia, says Sagrado's focus on down-to-earth, hearty fare is inspired by the culinary traditions of Brazil's interior states, such as Minas Gerais, where meals are cooked in iron pans on wood stoves with only a few condiments because people there, she says, "like food to taste like food."

The café serves breakfast all day in the form of an açaí bowl ($11), customized omelets ($11), elaborate sandwiches such as the Jacarandá ($9), and tapioca crepes, a gluten-free alternative to pancakes, made with cassava root. A lunch special of the day ($18) might be filet parmigiana, stroganoff, picanha, penne with shrimp, or the always reliable feijoada, the Brazilian pork bean stew served with rice, collard greens, and the toasted cassava flour mixture called farofa.

If you have time for only a quick snack, try the pão de queijo ($1.80) — a crunchy-crusted cheese puff with a fluffy center, available in gluten-free, multigrain, and waffle versions — or the Sagrado brigadeiro ($2), flavored with milk or dark chocolate, cookie, almond, hazelnut, or cheesecake.

Desserts include volcano cake, key lime pie, and three-chocolate mousse, available for $8 by the slice or $69 for a whole eight-inch version. The gelato bar serves sorbets, chocolamour, and a banana split ($9), Coffee drinks include espresso ($3), Brazilian cafezinho ($3.50), iced latte ($5), and a caramel coffee frappe ($6).

On weekends, Sagrado becomes a get-together retreat. Brunch items include the savory Sagrado signature pie ($12), stuffed with chicken, spinach, or shrimp. Bottomless mimosas cost an extra $19.

Kalili and Hida plan to transform the space into a community hub by offering workshops that will cater to foodies and beyond and by hosting private parties and events. Smaller outposts in high-trafficked areas are also in the works.

"Miami is a dynamic community. We don't want to speak to just one audience," Kalili says. "We want to welcome people from all over with not only great food but also warmth, grace, and a lot of bossa — that typical Brazilian flair. For us, that is sacred."

Sagrado Pastry Shop & Coffee Bar. 900 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 786-671-7434; sagradopastry.com. Daily 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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