Never heard of it? Somewhere far in Queens? No, right at the heart of Manhattan, on 46th street, a little Brazilian feeling floats in the air. Hidden in between Italian, Japanese and Mexican restaurants, only a block and just announced by a street sign, Little Brazil very often goes unnoticed. Beware, that might not last long, the 2014 World Cup is coming up and you might want to take advantage of this secret sliver of heaven while it is still rather quiet.Ever since the 1970s, Brazilians have largely immigrated to the U.S. but it has decreased slightly after 2005 due to the tightening immigration quotas. Over 30,000 have entered the country in 2010, but 7% of the total Brazilian community in America are said to live in New York... So why do they hide?
The main reason for their lack of visibility is that a majority do not consider themselves as real immigrants as they only want to settle for a few years before going back to their home country. Which explains why they also do not try and develop a community unlike other nationalities populating New York which would develop businesses, enabling them to promote their culture and allowing them many job opportunities.
Ten years ago, there used to be a lot more Brazilian restaurants, shops and markets but after talking to the owners of the few remaining businesses, it seems that many closed down due to the bad economy. The growing economy in Brazil was also a reason why less Brazilian came to the U.S. in order to make good money. Nowadays the major part of the Brazilian community has found shelter in Astoria, on 36th Ave, bringing their taste for life and partying with them.
However, Little Brazil remains a must to have a true idea of what authentic Feijoadas or Vatapás taste like, and drink decent Cachaca. To treat yourself we would advise the Via Brasil, opened since 1978 proves that it has satisfied numerous palates. Open everyday and delights you with live music from Wednesday to Sunday.
Emporium Brazil combines elegance and intimacy. With its best pieces of fish and meat, the chef Samira Soares will make you travel through space without the inconvenience of jet lag. Apparently, once Brazilian tourists or everyday workers find this hidden spot, they all come back and become regulars. According to the owner they are ready for 2014. Six televisions and a giant screen will be placed in the restaurants for each soccer match. They want to recreate the same enthusiasm and cheering they would find in Brazil whenever a game is on.
Just on the other side of the street, on the 3rd floor, you can find the office running The Brasilians, a monthly newspaper written half in Portuguese, half in English, and that has been running all throughout the U.S. ever since 1972. Go down one floor and you will find a Brazilian travel agency, or the perfect place to go if you’re planning to go and see the World Cup live!
Once again, another hidden spot is the only Brazilian store in Manhattan, Buzios on the second floor of 20 West - the stairs have palm trees on it so you cannot miss it! It offers bikinis, Havaianas, soccer sportswear and even groceries. Original imported products, it goes from sweets to very specific ingredients or salsa.
Besides, this surviving Portuguese-speaking corner is revived each year for the Brazilian Day that celebrates the Independence from Portugal on September 7th 1822. It has been held in New York since 1984 and the event this year will occur on September 1st. Food vendors, musicians and dancers are expected to take over about 25 blocks and bring the party in. Though perhaps not as impressive as the famous carnival in Rio De Janeiro, it is definitely an experience and an opportunity to learn about a new culture, and even a bit of portuguese - desfrute!