Even on a street as eclectic as culinary as Honolulu Avenue, Valeu Espetos – with its name which is unlike any word in English – stands out as unique.
Honolulu Avenue is home to everything from Pho 22 to Pepe’s Mexican, from Cracking Crab to Sake Sushi Bar, from Zeke’s Smokehouse to Montrose Town Kitchen. To paraphrase Arlo Guthrie, you can get anything you want on Honolulu Avenue. And in the case of Valeu Espetos, that means Brazilian skewers.
And these kebabs – tender and juicy, incredibly delicious, even addicting – touch on a number of worlds one wouldn’t fully expect from a restaurant built around things on a stick. For example, there are no pieces of chicken breast, which seems to be the meat of choice for many skewers when considering our SoCal 2021 diet. Instead, you’ll find skewered wings. of chicken, flavored in two ways – in one case with garlic sauce, in the other hot and sweet. Nothing too outrageous there.
The other two chicken dishes might give you pause for thought, as they’re sometimes referred to as “variety meats” – the more eccentric cuts eaten by those on a budget, who don’t want to waste a crumb.
I grew up like this. My family used to buy chickens at a local live poultry market. The birds were slaughtered, drained and had their feathers plucked. But otherwise, my parents would bring home whole chickens, spared the attention of the butcher – saving considerable money, of which we had little.
My mom would remove the feathers more by burning the birds on a gas burner, then use round-headed tweezers to remove the feathers. She would then cut the chicken and remove parts that I’m not sure the chickens have anymore – most notably the unborn eggs, which grew like grapes inside the birds, which did not yet have their shells and were fantastic in the chicken soup.
She would also carefully remove the gizzards, hearts and livers – two out of three of which are skewered at Valeu Espetos.
Why the livers didn’t make the “cut” (so to speak) I don’t know. But the sight of hearts (coração de frango) and gizzards (moela de frango) on the menu plunged me into a frenzy of nostalgia. And eat well too.
While gizzards have never been my favorite – too chewy, not giving like livers, not nearly as tasty – hearts make me really, really happy. I have never done them better than in Valeu Espetos; Honestly, I had no idea they could taste so great. And to get two full skewers, with 14 chicken hearts on each! It was 28 chickens that gave up the ghost so that I could enjoy an order of kebabs. The numbers are buzzing.
And yes, hearts are mellow too. But gizzards are softer – so there!
After these parts, the menu settles down a bit. There is beef carne, marinated and sprinkled with cilantro. There’s the bulgogi beef, marinated in a Korean barbecue sauce. There is linguica, the classic Brazilian sausage, with garlic and strongly spicy. There is the panceta – pork belly in garlic and earth. And there’s … well, that’s all there is, in terms of kebabs. But that’s not the end of the menu, which has many other pleasures to offer.
And indeed, that doesn’t put an end to the flavors that come with the kebabs – a tangy homemade dressing, tangy hot sauce, and toasted cassava flour called farofa (which is sometimes compared to rice, although it isn’t. ) have the texture of rice). It’s a bit like Vegemite – if you haven’t grown up eating it, it probably won’t make much sense. Unlike the cereal dish called pamonha, which is sweet corn porridge amended with cheese, a very substantial side dish.
There are croquettes – chicken, two-way beef or shrimp – the only seafood appearance on the menu. There are Brazilian empanadas (pasteles), beef, cheese or hearts of palm. And the cheese waffles, which are… cheese waffles. Very tasty, if you fancy cheese waffles.
And to complete it all, there are two entrees to eat on the menu, and a third sold frozen to take away. The two to eat on site are the frango a passarinho (fried minced chicken thighs) and the porção de moela apimentada (seared chicken gizzards). The one sold frozen is the legendary feijoada – a black bean stew with beef and pork. Add white rice and custard, and you’ve got the menu. Not a lot. But certainly enough.
And if you fancy going to deep Brazil, order the dark beer called Xingu, which is easier to drink than to pronounce. It goes very well with kebabs. And consider the fact that the coffee served here is only served black. In Brazil, where they grow a lot of coffee, they like their coffee strong. Goes well with hot sauce.
Merrill Shindler is an independent Los Angeles-based food critic. Send an email to [email protected]
- Evaluation: 2.5 stars
- Address: 2232 Honolulu Ave., Montrose
- Information: 818-369-7277
- Food: Brazilian skewers
- When: Lunch, Tuesday to Saturday; dinner, Monday to Saturday
- Details: Beer and wine
- Atmosphere: In the middle of Montrose, rich in restaurants, on the edge of the SF and SG valleys, this relaxed café offers a nice selection of proteins on skewers (chicken gizzards, do you like it?), As well as various croquettes, empanadas, waffles and homemade Brazilian dishes.
- Prices: About $ 12 per person
- Credit card: MC, V
- What do the stars mean: 4 (World class! Worth the trip from anywhere!), 3 (Very excellent, if not exceptional. Worth the trip from anywhere in Southern California.), 2 (A great place to go for a meal. Worth the trip from anywhere in the neighborhood.) 1 (If you’re hungry and it’s nearby, but don’t get stuck in traffic.) 0 (Honestly, not worth it. speak.)