Burgers the Brazilian Way at Friends Pizzeria

Upon initial glance, there are so many flummoxing things about the newly opened Friends Pizzeria: A pizza place that's Brazilian? A pizza place that serves hamburgers? Hamburgers and pizza with corn and peas on them?

Houston might have become familiar over the years with its fair share of ethnic cuisines from Ethiopian to Japanese. But for all the Brazilian-style rodizios and churrascarias we have in town, we don't have a place that specializes in the endlessly fun stuff that is Brazilian fast food. Friends Pizzeria seems intent on changing that.

The small but high-energy restaurant next to another high-energy place -- Genji Karaoke -- on Westheimer has super-late hours to appeal to its neighbors (it closes at 3:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday) and a broad menu that would appeal to the drunkest barhound as well as the casual neighborhood visitor. And, of course, the adventurous food lovers.

That's where the Brazilian portion of Friends' menu comes in.

As I understand it, the "X" that comes before every burger on a Brazilian fast-food-style menu indicates that the burger will have, at the very least, cheese. That's because the letter X is pronounced "sheesh" in Portuguese, a sound which comes very close to sounding like "cheese." So a X-Tudo burger on the Friends Pizzeria menu means that you're getting a cheeseburger "Tudo" -- with almost everything.

Everything means everything: bacon, ham, peas, corn, potato sticks, tomatoes, lettuce, mayonnaise and even a fried egg. It's a burger that's difficult to eat, for sure, but rewarding. I liked the pleasant crunch provided by the peas, corn and potato sticks, although I wasn't a fan of the extra-fatty bacon used on the X-Tudo ($6.95). It reminded me of the fatty bacon used in an English fry-up or a bacon buttie. Give me some American-style crispy bacon any day of the week.

What I loved, however was the pizza.

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Katharine Shilcutt