• The best meal I have had in Brazil: Paraíso Tropical

So here I was, sitting in this very hard to find restaurant,  Paraíso Tropical.  By chance I got off at exactly the right bus stop and it was only a short known walk from there having previously consulted Google Maps.  It is a cute place.  It looks tropical.  The whole restaurant is open air and it is lovely to relax in the shade with the cool breeze blowing through.  Palms line the supporting beams.  The light shades are a tangle of vines.

This place was randomly recommended through a friend of a friend on Facebook.  Don't you love it?  Hearing I was vegetarian she recommended I try  Paraíso Tropical, the restaurant owned by her father's friend.  They do the typical Bahian dishes but with a twist.  She recommended the Moqueca Maturi explaining it is cooked with cashew nuts instead of meat.  The waiter suggested that if I am vegetarian, the Moqueca Vegetariana would be better.  I went with his suggestion and was very pleased that I did.

As I waited for my meal, I felt like I had found one of the cool places where the wealthier people of Salvador hang out.  The other was Salvador Shopping.  The historic centre, where I am staying, on the other hand, is filled with tourists and lined with favelas.  So this meal was to treat myself before leaving Salvador.

I had expected the serves to be big, but the meal was massive - impossible to finish alone.  Not only was it Moqueca but it was served with Aipim, toasted flour, salsas and rice.

The Moqueca was slightly sweet with lots of different vegetables, several of them unknown to my palate.  The cashews were soft and had a grey tinge with cooking.  The sauce was lime, coconut and sugar but more watery than a Thai curry whilst having similar ingredients.  There were rounds that could have been Aipim and another vegetable that looked like Aipim but was even sweeter and tasted of orange.  On the edges were fruits that looked like tomatoes but were hard with big pips and hardly any flesh which was stringing and bitter anyway.  In the middle was broccoli, to the side was okra and to the other side corn and beans.  The vegetables were segmented into different parts of the dish.  The capsicum ontop had been chargrilled.  There was also tomato.

The Aipim side dish was the best Aipim I had tasted.  In truth I have avoided Aipim since eating dense, under-cooked Aipim chips at Lapa 40 in Rio, but this dish made it seem like a completely different vegetable.  It had been cooked in butter and was so soft that it melted in my mouth.

The toasted flour, rice and salsas were all good accompaniments (the salsas containing lots of chilli).
I tried to ask for the rest take-away, eventually getting the waiter to understand what I was on about.

Soon after I was presented with dessert which comes included with your meal, a platter of cut fruits and a massive bowl of other fruits that they expect you to take home and even supply a bag without asking.
A lot of the fruits I had never tried before.

Notice the massive plate of fruits in the background.
It was such a delightful meal.  I was worried about getting to Cabula on the bus by myself without an adequate map.  But I was so glad I went.

Not exactly easy to spot. Yes, that's it behind the cars. I guess
it has to be hidden by trees to be a Paraíso Tropical.
I love food but as a vegetarian it is often difficult to try local specialties.  I would definitely recommend this place to anyone vegetarian travelling to Salvador.

Paraíso Tropical
R. Edgar Loureiro, 98-B 
Cabula, Salvador, Bahia, Brazil