My favorite kind of restaurant is the small, cozy, family-run ethnic restaurant that has incredible food at a very reasonable price. This is why Muqueca is also invariably one of the places that I will recommend to out of town visitors whenever they come visit Cambridge.
I love this place!
Unlike your typical Brazilian restaurant, which focuses on various cuts of meat on skewers, Muqueca focuses on cuisine from coastal Brazil. They specialize in a very particular type of dish, called a moqueca, which is a stew full of seafood (typically fish, but can also be mixed with mussels, claims, shrimp, etc) sauteed with onions, garlic, tomatoes, and cilantro and served in a clay pot. No additional water is added, and thus the liquid in the "stew" is rich full of flavors from the vegetables and the seafood. Moquecas come mainly from two coastal Brazilian states: Bahia (Moqueca Bahiana) and Espírito Santo (Moqueca Capixaba).
The resulting dish is beautiful, with the fresh aromatic flavors of the vegetables and the seafood - absolutely divine, and relatively rare here in the States. Because we were entertaining an out-of-town guest, we ordered all of our favorite dishes.
I love their house salad. It's simple, but it's so good and refreshingly full of quality ingredients. Simple greens tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette tossed with tomatoes, green apples, green and black olives, palm hearts, and corn. A great way to start the meal.
Yucca is a huge part of Brazilian cuisine. Not only does it serve as a base for the sauces, it is eaten alone prepared in countless different ways. Here, we are enjoying deep fried yucca root mixed with tasty linguica (sausage)!
If you love mussels, you have to get the mussels moqueca. The soup is beautifully fragrant, full of aromas that come from the mussels and all the vegetables. Bryan always orders this because it probably has one of the most flavorful broths. Delicious.
I like the mixed seafood moqueca because of the variety of ingredients (fish, shrimp, and mussels). The mussels and the shrimp give the broth a beautifully deep flavor that can only come from shellfish. The fish adds substance to the entire dish.
All moquecas come with this amazing sauce. I have no idea how they make it. I think it's a mixture of yucca root powder, water, and I think salt cod (since the flavor of salt cod seems present). It goes great with the moquecas and rice. I absolutely love this and I can never put enough on my plate. Even after the moquecas are long gone, you might still catch me spooning this stuff onto my rice and just eating it like that. So good!
Cooler yet, Muqueca has an interesting drink bar with delicious fresh fruit drinks. Here we've ordered a blueberry cashew drink and a pineapple mint juice. Both are fantastic.
Over all I love this place. Prices are quite reasonable, food is fantastic, and you can't beat the tiny cozy atmosphere. Because it is small, however, the waits are typically pretty long. They are willing to take reservations, but even they don't have full control over the times because there are so few seats. When we went, we arrived at 8:45PM and still had to wait a good 20 minutes before sitting down (and this is after another group of 4 who had a reservation left in frustration after waiting for 20 minutes).
So, be prepared to wait if necessary, even beyond your reservation time. It's totally worth it though. This is really one of my favorite restaurants in Cambridge!
P.S. I first wrote about this place in 2007. To see that review, click here.
1093 Cambridge St
Cambridge, MA 02139
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