In the heart of the Portuguese community in Vauxhall lies a Brazilian gem: opened a mere seven months ago, Tia Maria is worth a visit even if you don’t live south of the river. Tiny, but very cozy, the restaurant specialises in tapioca. Never heard of it? Well, that’s because there aren’t many places around serving it – or rather none that we’ve heard of, until now.
Tapioca is basically made of a starch extracted from cassava root, which is then spread and fried, and shaped rather like a pancake. They can be sweet or savoury according to the fillings, so we tried two (£2.30 – £3.95 each): dried salted meat and cheese as a starter, and milk caramel with coconut for desert – both heavenly!
Eduardo, the owner, says he got the idea to cook tapioca as it’s really popular in Paraíba, the northeastern state he comes from. However it was only in London that he learned how to make them, and the technique used was rather uncommon: “I used tutorials on the internet. I tested recipes until I found the right one”, he says. And we can assure you he did a great job, as they taste just perfect.
But Tia Maria is more than just tapiocas. Traditional barbecue meat such as chicken hearts (£2 a skewer) and Brasilian rump steak are also a succulent part of the menu. And better still, there’s live music in the evenings from Wed-Sun, with a different style each night from forró to MPB and samba, and till late on Fridays and Saturdays to dance the calories away.
See our Brazilian Restaurants in London guide for a comprehensive list of restaurants serving Brazilian food