At Padoca, Brazilian Comfort Foods that Are Easy on the Wallet

Two bakers dunk balls of dough into deep-fat fryers.

Meanwhile, Tatiane Sader places round bread rolls filled with cheese into a warm display case. She pours hot water into a tiny tray to stop them going stale.

It’s 7:30am and Sader has been here in Padoca, on Bolton Street, in the city centre, since just after 6am, prepping for the morning rush.

Sader and Fabiano Neto, her partner of seven years, opened this minimalist bakery in mid-April.

The display cases are full of savoury comfort food – at affordable prices. Most of the items on the menu go for between €1.80 and €3 each.

Behind the counter are warm snacks: teardrop-shaped coxinhas filled with shredded chicken and cheese, breaded balls of gooey cheese called bolas de queijo, and soft pão de queijo, or cheese bread.

They do sandwiches, too, and cakes such as the flan-style pudim de leite condensado – or pudding with condensed milk. You’ll find those in any padoca, or bakery, in Brazil, Neto says.

The menu at Padoca includes all the fast foods Brazilians typically eat in the morning and at lunchtime, he says. “We don’t have chicken fillet rolls in Brazil. This is our chicken fillet rolls,” he says.

It’s a small premises, with a little kitchen and 10 stools. Inside, there’s warm lighting, minimal decorations and a message on the wall reading: “People who love to eat are the best people”. The effect is homely and modern.

Neto says he and Sader decided not to add lots of decorations and knick-knacks. They wanted the place to be simple, but welcoming. “We decided we wanted a place that is like us,” he says.

There are six staff members at Padoca, including Neto and Sader. The two co-founders are both from Ubiratã, a small rural municipality in southern Brazil, home to just over 21,000 people.

Neto says he’d only been a few days in Dublin, when he realised he wanted to stay. “I really like the city, I won’t go back to Brazil soon,” he says.

Dublin’s just the right size, Neto says – it’s a big city, but everything’s close by. And it felt familiar.

Neto used to run a small kitchen under the Three Spirits Bar and Grill on Capel Street. But the building was sold. They had to close, and he set his sights on opening a bakery.

Neto and Sader saved up. They funnelled money made from another business, a cleaning company, to fund Padoca too, says Neto.

Last Friday, the store was busy. “Things are going faster than expected,” Neto says.

Neto takes pride in the Brazilian-style crepes called tapiocas. Like tapioca pudding, the gluten-free flour in the pancakes is made from the cassava plant.

In the kitchen, the chef lines the pan with mozzarella cheese. He sprinkles on a generous heaping of cassava or “manioc” flour, and flattens it with a spatula.

When the bottom is browned and firm, looking similar to American-style hash browns, he flips the pancake.

It’s smothered in gooey condensed milk and lined inside with sliced strawberries, folded over again – before adding more condensed milk and more strawberries.

Padoca does a Nutella version, too.

The bakery also has a spongy carrot cake doused in chocolate sauce called bolo de cenoura, packaged up for takeaway.

Neto says they make brigadeiro, small muffin-like treats, too. They’re paçoca flavour, made with crushed peanuts, but are traditionally chocolate.

“We are doing something different. Paçoca is traditional in São Paulo and southern Brazilian states,” he says.

It’s just before 8:30am now, and the first of customers are coming in.

A courier waits for his order of coxinhas. A woman sits inside with a cup of the bakery’s café com leite, taking shelter from the rain.

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Author:

Aura McMenamin: Aura McMenamin is a city reporter covering the south side of the city, and jobs. You can reach her at aura@dublininquirer.com.

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