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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Eat This: Coxinhas at Rio California in Oakland

Posted By on Thu, Jun 18, 2015 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge Chicken coxinhas. - BETTY WANG
  • Betty Wang
  • Chicken coxinhas.

Fact: Rio California in downtown Oakland serves up some of the tastiest Brazilian fare you can get in the Bay Area. Furthermore, that statement was not made lightly or even relative to the fact that there's a scarcity of Brazilian food up in these parts. Here's a four-part breakdown of why you should definitely pencil them in for your next non-boring, non-grab-and-go-salad lunch ASAP:

click to enlarge Jerk chicken plate, with rice and a green salad with cilantro dressing. - BETTY WANG
  • Betty Wang
  • Jerk chicken plate, with rice and a green salad with cilantro dressing.

  • Delicious food. The fan favorite at Rio is the jerk chicken, because their spice marinade is flavorful and has an impressive kick. It's also accompanied with rice (which is also great for soaking up those delicious jerk chicken juices), and a crisp green salad with a tasty cilantro dressing. The jerk chicken is also available in burrito form. Also, the coxinha (pronounced ko-SHEE-nyah), which are piping-hot, freshly-fried Brazilian chicken croquettes shaped like fat teardrops, come with the salad (and its cilantro dressing) as well. Other menu items include fish tacos, three types of empanadas, a variety of Brazilian sandwiches, a seafood risotto, a veggie lasagna, and  a handful of other tasty-sounding selections — all that I fully intend on exploring further on my next visit. 

  • Location, location, location. The restaurant is 
    click to enlarge Preservation Park, with Rio California in the background. - BETTY WANG
    • Betty Wang
    • Preservation Park, with Rio California in the background.
    located in Preservation Park, in a charming Victorian-style house, which is literally smack dab right in the middle of Downtown Oakland. You can eat inside or if it's nice enough, there's s eating outside on the restaurant's patio. There's also a few benches in the park — which feels like a quaint residential neighborhood — giving you a nice reprieve during your work day.

  • Bang for your buck. The food is not only good, but it all comes in heaping portions for wallet-friendly prices. My huge plate of jerk chicken came with two large slabs of chicken (a mix of white and dark meat, by the way) next to a huge pile of rice and a ton of salad that almost overflowed — all for for less than $10. The kid's-fist-sized coxinhas, also under $10, came in a set of three and emerged from the kitchen in record time. So there's no need to fret about making it back to the office in time to answer that email.

  • Notable service. Everyone working there seemed as pleased as punch to help me out however they could. From the laid-back cashier who told me rather frankly that I should order the coxinhas over another contender because I would be getting more for my money, to the pleasant owner who brought food to our table and even offered to take a picture of my companion and I when he noticed me snapping away at our plates. Although it remains inconclusive whether or not this may have been to distract my hungry boyfriend, who was waiting while I took an unnecessarily long time to capture our food. In all seriousness though, everyone was incredibly pleasant and helpful in a very sincere way.

Keep in mind their limited hours, however—Rio California is only open on weekdays from 11:30 am-2:30 pm. Simply put: this place is worth the trek. Also, especially for those of you who work or live in the area, you have no excuse.

Rio California, 1233 Preservation Park Way, Oakland, 510-834-2565.

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Betty Wang


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