In this week's cafe review, we spotlight Friends Pizzeria, a little Brazilian restaurant that -- despite its name -- specializes in Brazilian burgers and hot dogs just as much as it does in pizza. And while its pizzas are very good, it's those madly messy burgers that have me captivated.
This style of burger is called X-Tudo, pronounced "shees TOO-do." According to Patricia Ribiero, a Brazilian blogger, this name is a portmanteau of sorts, meaning "cheese-everything." A typical X-Tudo burger really does come with cheese and everything -- including corn, peas, lettuce, tomatoes, potato sticks, bacon, ham and a fried egg.
"It's the classic style of burger back in Brazil," says Friends Pizzeria owner Ronaldo Gomes, who comes from a small town in Brazil. So small, he says, that they "don't have McDonald's or Burger King."
And while he doesn't have any idea why corn, peas and potato sticks ended up being standard toppings, Gomes says: "That's what we used to eat all the time."
"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."
You can browse through our slideshow this week to see how Friends's X-Tudo burger is made, but I also thought we'd feature a few more X-Tudo burgers from around the United States.
This is a X-Tudo burger from New York Pão de Queijo in Astoria, Queens, courtesy of Always Hungry NY. On this burger, you can see a thin white layer directly underneath the burger; that's catupiry cheese. Friends offers this creamy treat -- which is like Brie mixed with cream cheese and butter -- on its pizzas, but not its burgers. However, I have a feeling the restaurant would happily add it to a burger upon request.
This is a burger from the now-closed Compania Do Sanduiche in Cliffside Park, NJ, courtesy of Off the Broiler. This one looks like it has mustard -- an unusual condiment for a Brazilian sandwich -- but plenty of everything else. Take a look at the rest of Off the Broiler's photos to see more Brazilian specialties, including the equally messy hot dogs.
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Here's another X-Tudo courtesy of Off the Broiler, this one from another New Jersey restaurant: Hamburgão. That's a Brazilian soda with it, and while Friends doesn't carry Sumol, it does carry one of my favorites: Guaraná Schin, extra-caffeinated stuff with guarana in it.