On walks through the Ironbound neighborhood of Newark, often times Altas Horas Lanches was bursting at the seams with customers. Unfortunately these walks normally took place with full bellies and it was not until earlier this year that it was finally possible to grab a quick meal.
In Brazil, spots with "lanches" in their name were usually reliable for an authentic (and affordable) experience. The word translates roughly to "snacks" and the timing of eating your snacks is not that important. Some eat this in the morning with coffee, some between meals, and some grab these quick bites for a meal or a midnight snack. The best spots were crowded, and often had not changed their decor for decades. They felt honest and kept clients for a lifetime.
Between meals, there were a few times during my travels that I popped into one for a coxinha ($2.25, above and below), a salgado (salty snack) easily eaten by hand. The one I had here contains the cheese catupiry, a mild creamy cheese with its origins in Minas Gerais state. Coxinha means "little chicken thigh" so the use of shredded chicken is standard in this pastel. The taste is not explosive, but the salty goodness stands on its own and does not need any sauces.
Intention upon arriving was to eat the big Brazilian burger known as X tudo, the "X" pronunciation in Portuguese close to the English word "cheese." I am a big fan of this sandwich, which comes full of meat, ham, bacon, egg, corn, lettuce, tomato, fried potato sticks, mayonnaise... (have you had a heart attack yet?)
With a long list of sandwich options, it was actually the X picanha ($6, above and below) that spoke loudest and warranted an order. In a Brazilian rodizio, picanha is the cream of the crop, that cut of top sirloin that every diner waits and asks for double. At such a low price point, it seemed irresistible here.
The cut used at Altas Horas is not nearly the same level as a good rodizio, but the sandwich is nonetheless satisfying, topped with mozzarella, lettuce and tomato. This is a good time to use the house pink mayonnaise, if desired.
I wanted to linger longer, maybe trying a fresh juice or shake, but when I was finishing the place got extra packed and I gave up my table. Families and friends were filling up the space with loud joyful conversations, sometimes glancing towards the TV and whatever futebol match happened to be on.