Sampaio's Restaurant

"Sampaio's features truly representative Brazilian cuisine, in a very welcoming space, served by an efficient and knowledgeable staff," writes Mick Vann. But there's more!

Mini-Review
Photo By John Anderson

Sampaio's Restaurant

2809 San Jacinto, 469-9988

Monday, 11am-2pm; Tuesday-Thursday, 11am-10pm;

Friday-Saturday, 11am-11pm; Sunday, 9am-2pm

Magna Sampaio (of Brasilia) and Melba Garcia (of Port Isabel) opened Sampaio's in December of 2000. It occupies the space that used to hold the Chinese restaurant in the strip between the Posse East and the Crown and Anchor Pub, where 30th, San Jacinto, Speedway, and Duval all converge. They were reluctant to rely completely on Brazilian cuisine at start-up, so they designed a menu offering select Tex-Mex dishes, as well. The success of the Brazilian side of the menu is now prompting them to soon convert to a totally Brazilian menu, and we can't wait.

The ladies did an incredible turnaround of the previous space, offering us an open and smart, polished interior dripping in warm tones and copper, accompanied by the sensual beats of Brazilian samba. It is a welcoming transformation of what had been a dark and depressing Asian affair. But the shine at Sampaio is on the vibrant food, and we definitely like what goes on here.

An appetizer that shouldn't be missed is the Brazilian Cheese Rolls ($4.95), a basket of cheese and bread balls with a light, elastic texture and an ethereal taste. The Fried Rice Cheese Puffs ($4.50) are a basket of delightful fried spheres of rice and potato, herbs, and cheese, served with a cilantro cream and a Brazilian tomato sauce (better than the ones our Brazilian pal Wagner used to make for us in the Clarksville Cafe kitchen).

Sampaio's does a fine version of the national dish: Feijoada ($9.95). It's a gut-busting combo of rich, smoky black bean stew with sausage, pork, and beef, served with rice, robust collard greens, orange slices, and farofa (toasted manioc meal mixed with pecans and raisins). Sampaio's Bacalhau (salt cod, $ 8.95) is a blend of toothsome cod (that's not the least bit fishy) with olives, tomato, potato, and onions. One bite makes you wonder why fresh (meaning undried) fish is more popular than bacalhau.

Lunch one day had us salivating over a flaky empanada filled with chicken, cheese, and veggies, bathed in a spicy tomato-cumin sauce for $5.95. Their Moqueca Bahiana ($9.25) is a succulent stew of coconut milk, palm oil, herbs, garlic, ginger, chiles, and tomato served with rice. It's an authentic and delicious version of the famous fish dish from Bahia.

The constantly changing daily specials are inexpensive, full-flavored, and fast from the kitchen. The menu at Sampaio also features many sandwiches and an extensive list of excellent sides, and the dessert case contains sinfully rich delights. We almost swooned from a caramel-chocolate truffle called a Brigadiero ($1.65).

Sampaio's features truly representative Brazilian cuisine, in a very welcoming space, served by an efficient and knowledgeable staff. It's the only place in town to get a genuine Capirinha, made with Brazil's rum-like cachaça, lime, and sugar over ice. And be sure to ask for a dish of their dynamite malagueta chile sauce to go with whatever treats you order from the kitchen. We have definitely added Sampaio's to our list for regular dining rotation, and can't wait for the new expanded Brazilian offerings to come.

Sign up for the Chronicle Cooking newsletter

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

If you want to submit a recipe, send it to food@austinchronicle.com

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Food Reviews
A Trio of Mediterranean Dining
A Trio of Mediterranean Dining
Just when you thought you couldn't possibly get any shawarma, right?

Wayne Alan Brenner, Sept. 4, 2020

Hot Sauce: Your Lifestyle Is the Target
Hot Sauce: Your Lifestyle Is the Target
What does your favorite condiment reveal about who you are?

Wayne Alan Brenner, Aug. 28, 2020

More by Mick Vann
Guantanamera Cuban Cuisine
Guantanamera Cuban Cuisine
Good things come in small packages

May 8, 2015

On the Cheap: Taquito Aviles
Taquito Aviles
Getting our goat on Braker

Feb. 20, 2015

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Sampaio's Restaurant, Magna Sampaio, Melba Garcia

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle