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Dinner with Friends

Try a topsy-turvy Brazilian burger.

 To see more of Friends Pizzeria's big, beautiful burgers and pizzas, check out our slideshow.

Nothing could have prepared me for my first X-Tudo burger. I'd read about them before. Seen a few grainy pictures on the Internet, but never expected to find it here in Houston. And yet here it was, sitting in front of me at Friends Pizzeria in all its glory.

Vegetables poured out of the burger on all sides: tomatoes here, corn there, potato sticks askance, peas slipping out from under a blanket of ham. And the meat — so much meat. That slice of ham was joined by several thick, blistery slices of bacon and the actual burger itself: a huge, handformed patty that was roughhewn and rustic. Its craggy surface had been filled in on one side with a slice of American cheese. An unusually thin yet sturdy bun held the thing together. Its sweetness was the first thing I noticed as I took an initial, exploratory bite.

The X-Tudo burger was gone within minutes.
Troy Fields
The X-Tudo burger was gone within minutes.

Location Info

Map

Friends Pizzeria

7952 Westheimer
Houston, TX 77063

Category: Restaurant > Brazilian

Region: Outer Loop - SW

Details

Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 a.m Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sundays
• X-Tudo burger: $6.95
• X-Picanha burger: $7.95
• Mixta pizza: $9.95
• Gaucha pizza: $9.95
• Four Cheese pizza: $9.95
• Hot dog: $5.95
• Strawberry cream: $4.95


READ MORE
SLIDESHOW: Brazilian Burgers & More at Friends Pizzeria
BLOG POST: The Brazilian Burger: Bedlam on a Bun

Yes, the patty was too well-done for my tastes. So was the fried egg on top, rendering its presence moot. But every other aspect of the X-Tudo burger was so interesting that I didn't care. The corn and peas were sweet and crunchy, the potato sticks adding an additional pleasant shatter. Ham and bacon and mayonnaise and cheese all melted together to form a sort of tug-of-war in each bite: savory and fatty against sweet and crisp.

The burger was gone within minutes.

X-Tudo, which means "everything with cheese" (more or less) in Portuguese and is pronounced "shees TOO-do," is the classic style of burger back in Brazil. Friends Pizzeria owner Ronaldo Gomes comes from a tiny town in Brazil. So small, he laughs, that they "don't have McDonald's or Burger King."

"That's what we used to eat all the time," says Gomes. "It's more like in small towns. It's the same thing with the hot dogs. In Brazil you can find the hot dogs and burgers like street food."

"But," he says, "I don't know who came up with this idea. I know they been eating these type of burgers for many years." No one seems to really know the exact origin behind the X-Tudo burger and its offshoots, many of which are served at Friends Pizzeria: X-Galinha (with chicken), X-Guloso (with potato skins) and X-Picanha (with chopped sirloin steak), among others.

"A lot of people order the X-Tudo," says Gomes. "They're thinking in their head that the corn and peas are mixed into the ground beef," he laughs. They're relieved to learn that corn and peas are just a topping, two of many that Brazilians are known to throw madly onto any street food that will stay still long enough.
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"You'd think this would just be straightforward stuff," says my coworker Mandy over lunch one day at Friends. "Hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza. But it's not." We laugh and look at the spread in front of us: a Brazilian hot dog strewn with marinara sauce and potato sticks; a Mixta pizza with more corn and peas as well as that Brazilian specialty, catupiry cheese; and a X-Picanha burger with glistening strips of sirloin smeared in mayonnaise, bits of corn dangling crazily off the sides.

"The catupiry cheese," Gomes told me, "a lot of Brazilians eat for breakfast: Just put some on bread with milk and coffee." That catupiry cheese is a rare find in Houston. Only one other pizza place in town — Piola, which also has restaurants in Brazil — carries it. And although I love Piola, they can be a bit stingy with the stuff. After tasting it just once, I craved it like mad until my next fix at Friends: It's downy and creamy in texture and taste, with just the slightest hint of earthy, mushroomy funk — like Brie blended with butter.

Here, it's best on the Mixta and the Four Cheese pizzas. Brazilian pizza is thinner and softer than your typical American or Italian-style pizzas. There's no tug in the crust; it's low-gluten stuff that Gomes and his partner — Houston native Asif Lodhi — make fresh every day using a recipe that Gomes perfected a decade ago. There's very little tomato sauce, either. It's almost charred on the bottom, like a piece of fresh pita bread.

Gomes tells me that the Four Cheese and the Mixta — again, with its topping of peas, corn, onions, olives and green peppers — are the favorites among his ex-pat clientele. "They say it tastes just like Brazil," he says.

But I'm equally happy with a Gaucha pizza here, with soft ribbons of shaved sirloin steak cloaked in melty provolone and barely caramelized onions. Taken with the texture of the unusual pizza dough, it's almost like eating a pizza-shaped flatbread.

Mandy ate half of her Mixta pizza quickly — a small will easily feed two people — but not nearly as quickly as our other coworker, Steve, had demolished his X-Picanha burger. Although the steak was a bit gristly in places, I ended up liking it more than my original X-Tudo burger, to my great surprise. While the handformed patties are admirable, the X-Picanha is the way to go if you're looking for a lot of ooze in your burger — or steak, as it were.

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9 comments
Bguy101
Bguy101

These guys are SOOOOOOO RUDE!!!!!! - I will never return, They screwed up my order so instead of a remake they just pulled off some toppings added what was missing (uncooked) and handed it back to me - YUK!! they shouted at me for having the nerve to complain about their screw up. They broke health violations when they took a pizza that was on my table in the back and re worked on it. This place does not deserve your business

Owner ronaldo g is a real Jerk - I posted this review on Yelp and he told me to "Get a Life Fat A**" This is the caliber of people that you are dealing with, There are plenty of places in this city that are respectful and are willing to earn your business.

AshelyWine502016
AshelyWine502016

I just p a i d $21 for an i P a d 2-64GB and my boyfriend loves his Panasonîc Lumîx GF 1 Camera that we got for $38 there arriving tomorrow by UPS.I will never pay such expensive retail prices in stores again. Especially when I also sold a 40 inch LED TV to my boss for $657 which only cost me $62 to buy.Here is the website we use to get it all from BídsFírst.Com

Blaze Hauser
Blaze Hauser

onde esta o meu portugues salsicha ou frango na sopa em Houston? Brazilian food is too much this and that for my taste.

seasincarnadine
seasincarnadine

K-- I don't know how you feel about uptown sushi's sushi, but one of my favorite meals sofar off of the restaurant month menu was a Kobe burger from there. The sprouts add an unnecessary, weird, texture but the combination of the fall-apart patty, pesto sauce and chev cheese is pretty outstanding. I fancy myself a man's man, so I hate admitting I like such a fru fru burger. What is even harder to admit, is the dipping sauce for the fries. I don't know what it is, but I'd guess blue cheese, mayo and lemon juice. I make fun of my foreign friends for their affinity to dipping chips in mayo, but this was addictive.

csoakley
csoakley

Why!?! Why do you do this to me? I'm in training for the Houston Marathon and you're not helping!!

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Good question. I heard a Portugese/Angolan place opened near Phoenicia recently. Going to check it out this weekend...

Dante
Dante

Why can't you have one of these after a long run?

Blaze Hauser
Blaze Hauser

Awesome, I go to Phoenicia every pay day, do tell us how the food is, and whether the piri piri is nice and hot

csoakley
csoakley

I think it would take a 26.2 mile long run to work off one of these bad boys. If they're open January 16th then I may drop by.

Plus, I'd like to drop about 40 more lbs before I hit the start line in January. In order to accomplish that I think step one needs to be: "Stop reading this blog".

 
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