Known among celebrity-chef devotees as the place a young Emeril Lagasse started his culinary career washing dishes, Barcelos Cafe offers a full inventory of Portuguese baked goods, including sweet breads, miniature custard pies, cod fritters, and savory-sweet pasteis de feijao, aka bean cakes. It is not easy to explain a bean cake; there’s nothing like it in the mainstream American diet. It is made from a batter of pureed red kidney beans, egg yolks, sugar, and ground almonds. I think of it as a cross between a cupcake and a chewy cookie that is just sweet enough to be a coffee companion, but also protein-rich and buttery.
There are interesting sandwiches with a Portuguese accent such as chourico & peppers, cacoila (pulled pork) & red pepper, and biffana (marinated sliced pork) with onions; but the best reason to come to Barcelos Cafe is its malasada. The style here is to stretch the sweet dough fairly flat (as opposed to spherical), fry it until golden brown, then liberally dust it with granulated sugar.
While most business is take-out from the bakery shelves, tables are available to enjoy sandwiches, bean cakes, and malasadas with good, strong espresso.