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Iaiá Brazil is on Elm Street in Gorham, next to Carter’s Green Market. Photos by Leslie Bridgers

Iaiá Brazil opened in Gorham in April, tucked just away from Main Street in a neighborhood that has nearly everything you could want within walking distance – from a Hannaford to a hair salon – now including Brazilian street food.

The harder-to-find (mostly deep fried) Brazilian specialties are probably the biggest draw for anyone coming from a distance, but if you live nearby or are passing through, there’s an extensive menu of coffee drinks, smoothies and açaí bowls – all also products of Brazil though more widely available.

From the menu online, the pastel seemed like the best lunch option, described as a “crunchy, flaky, deep fried dough” that comes filled with a choice of meats, cheese, egg or vegetables. I choose chicken and cheese ($7.50) and added the creamy cilantro sauce for 75 cents.

Not knowing how filling it might be and wanting to try some more items that were unfamiliar to me, I also got the yuca bites ($4.50), which come with a choice of sauce (I got garlic-lime with these) and the pao de queijo (three baked yuca flour balls with a blend of three cheeses, $3.75). I added on a 75-cent order of the third sauce available, spicy tomato, to make sure I wasn’t missing out on anything.

I got to the cafe a little earlier than the pickup time given but was happy to have time to check out the place, located next to Carter’s Green Market and with several parking spots along the street out front.

Modern decor and pleasant music make Iaiá Brazil an inviting cafe.

Inside, the decor was modern and chic, with shiny black chairs at cafe tables and a black couch in front of a curtain with a neon sign that says “not so far away.” Plants and paintings adorned the counters and walls, and pleasant music played. The menu, presented on several electronic signs, seemed even bigger than the online version. Had I ordered in person, I likely would have chosen from the three soups (bean and sausage, a shrimp and yuca chowder, and one with chicken and rice).

The counterperson said she’d get my order out to me as soon as possible and let me know that I was only given a wait time of 35 minutes because they had to bake the pao de queijo, which they don’t always keep on hand, but that I could always call to see if they have it. A typical wait, she said, is just 15 minutes.

Clockwise from bottom, pao de queijo, yuca bites, chicken and cheese pastel, and creamy cilantro, garlic-lime and spicy tomato sauces.

Right on time, someone came out from the kitchen with my order in paper bags. On the drive back to my office, I couldn’t help but try one of the yuca bites, which came in a french-fry-style container, and that time-consuming pao de queijo, something like a cheddar biscuit in doughnut hole form.

But it was the pastel I was looking forward to most, and sure enough, slathered in creamy cilantro sauce, that combo was my favorite. As I wiped the remnants out from under my keyboard, I understood why the counterperson emphasized the need for napkins. This was hardly a sad desk lunch, but it was a flaky one.


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