Tonight I went to Cafe Brazil for some coffee, ice water and conversation with my sister and some of her friends. I like to think that they've sort of become my too... I think I've moved past that awkward "Facebook friends" stage with most of them... The point is-- we were at Cafe Brazil. And Cafe Brazil deserves to be written about.
Cafe Brazil is a place that without fail, almost always makes me start waxing poetic...or prose, as the case may be. Unfortunately, much of the waxing often happens in my head.
Cafe Brazil is a Dallas area "hot spot."-- not a wifi "hot spot," though I think they do have wifi. When I've had to describe it to people before, I call it an "exotic diner." Their slogan is "Not just another coffee house." There are several different locations sprinkled throughout the metroplex, and they are all open 24 hours at least on the weekends. My favorite and most frequented location, near Mockingbird Lane, is always open.
Cafe Brazil has a patio full of umbrella-covered, wrought iron tables and chairs. Walk inside and you are confronted with a large, sprawling room packed with square tables and chairs. The place is often packed; I don't know that I have ever been there when it is not packed, even at three in the morning. Across the restaurant from the front door is a long bar where customers can sit and eat. Behind the bar is the kitchen where everything from omelettes to crepes to barbeque quesadillas to chipotle steak and eggs to fried ice cream and something delicious called an espresso freeze are prepared. Oh, and they have over thirty flavors and kinds of coffee, which are available at a serve yourself coffee bar in a corner of the restaurant. My personal favorite is Snickerdoodle.
I realize I'm starting to sound a little like an advertisement...
Honestly, the food is good, but I always enjoy going to Cafe Brazil because there is always so much to look at. The walls are a startling shade of avocado green and bright orange, and there are samples of local artists' work scattered across the walls. But aside from that, I do some of my best people watching when I'm at Cafe Brazil, and I am always struck by the vast variety of clientele who frequent the joint, especially during the wee hours.
Though the restaurant is often busy whenever I go, this evening the place seemed unusually packed for a Wednesday night. Our group started out at a table for four, but as our number increased and we realized there wasn't room for us all inside, we decided to relocate to the patio.
At our indoor table, we were flanked by two very business-y parties. A pair of girls--maybe college age-- sat to our right, studying and eating. They were both dressed casually, in shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops, and their hair was tied up and out of the way. One wore glasses and the other had a pair pushed up to the top of her head. They each had a glass of soda and they were sharing a huge platter of nachos. Several crumpled napkins littered the table, and they had two binders full of powerpoint notes open in front of them. From where I sat, I couldn't make out what they were studying or discussing, but the girl with the glasses on her head talked to her study buddy and gestured wildly with her pen.
To our left was a small group of men dressed as if they'd just left the office, which I thought was odd since it was 11:15 at night. They had a lap top open in front of them, and they were all very serious as they discussed a list of bullet points on the screen, while digging into plates of enchiladas, pancakes and loaded cheese fries.
I noticed several more tables of pairs near us. A pair of bleary-eyed girls huddled over their table as they shared two decadent desserts. An intimate looking couple sat at the table next to theirs, holding hands on top of the table as they sipped their coffee and shared a single piece of cheesecake. Next to them, a more awkward couple leaned back in their chairs, haltingly picking at their late-night breakfasts. I wondered if this was perhaps the end of a not-so-successful first date.
Out on the patio, there were fewer people, probably a reaction to the muggy July night. There was a table with an older woman and a younger woman somewhere in her twenties, and I couldn't figure out their relationship. They seemed to be on friendly terms, but not necessarily intimate. They seemed to have set up camp at this table. There were several plates off different sizes with remnants of different foods, two water glasses and two coffee mugs. The older woman wore a long, colorful sundress and sandals; she held a dwindling cigarette between her fingers. Her younger companion wore tight workout shorts, a purple racerback tanktop and pink running shoes. She got up from the table multiple times to refill her coffee cup, and when she sat at the table, she fiddled with her iphone. By the end of the night, I decided they were mother and daugther, and I felt sort of sorry for them.
I think my favorite customer of the night was someone I've noticed Cafe Brazil every night I have ever been there, drinking coffee and drawing portraits of customers. He is tall and slender, and has dark skin the color of my coffee after I dribble some milk in it. He looks to be somewhere between 50 and 75...give or take... This evening he wore a well-worn, white, button up shirt with the sleeves rolled to his elbows. His shirt was tucked into pleated khaki pants with a dark leather woven belt. His face and hands are creased with age and the sun, and his eyes wrinkle at the corners when he smiles or concentrates on a drawing. This man is one of the best parts of going to this particular Cafe Brazil and I keep holding out for the night when maybe he'll see me and decide to make me his subject for the night...