Southern Exposure: Caboco Is More Than Just A Churrascaria

At DTLA’s Caboco, a star chef takes Brazilian food to delicious new places

Caboco is a Brazilian restaurant, but that doesn’t mean it’s an all-you-can-eat, meat-on-skewers situation. The chefs are quick to note it’s not a churrascaria.

“We want to present a new Brazilian cuisine,” says Rodrigo Oliveira, one of South America’s most acclaimed toques. “Our desire is to show how diverse our culture and ingredients are.”

Sure, there is some grilled meat on the menu, but you’ll also find a take on the Brazilian couscous casserole known as cuscuz paulista, elevated with uni and quail eggs. A vegan version of the fish stew moqueca is surprisingly rich and complex, made with cashew fruit, hearts of palm, and plantains. All the food pairs well with cachaça, the Brazilian liquor distilled from sugarcane. The restaurant plans to have the largest collection of the spirit in North America.

Photo by Dylan + Jeni

“Like wine, there are tons of flavor profiles and regions,” enthuses Oliveira’s business partner and fellow chef, Victor Vasconcellos.

Both men are natives of São Paulo. Oliveira rose to acclaim after he took over his family’s modest store in a working-class neighborhood in 2002. He transformed it into Mocotó, a vibrant culinary destination that has garnered a Michelin Bib Gourmand award and a place on Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list. He’s eschewed offers to open in fancier parts of his hometown, instead focusing on community efforts. He recently created an organization that provided 80,000 meals to the hungry during the pandemic.

Caboco has been in the works for several years, and it was originally planned for West Hollywood or Hollywood, but Oliveira is thrilled that it ultimately landed amid the gritty beauty of downtown L.A. “It’s not the first place investors would think of, just like our places in São Paulo,” he says. “It’s big, chaotic, diverse, and cosmopolitan.” 1850 Industrial St., Arts District,

New and Notable Restaurants to Also Check Out

Acclaimed young chefs Liz Johnson and Will Aghajanian have brought fresh life—and a buzzy $27 burger—to the old Ye Coach & Horses space.
7617 W. Sunset Blvd.,

Opened by two native Angelenos, this modern Mexican eatery has a welcoming vibe, easy parking, plenty of margaritas, and vibrant dishes, some with unexpected twists. A memorable shrimp ceviche features habaneros in toasted sesame oil, while a deconstructed burrito swaps in a crepe for a tortilla.
6101 York Blvd.,

Photo by Cameron Strand

The Ace Hotel’s new all-day restaurant offers up vegetable-forward fare—pea pancakes with coconut yogurt, carrot halvah-, cocktails made with a beet shrub—but you can also grab a steak.
927 S. Broadway,

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