Jul 12

Gluten Free Options at Muqueca Restaurant // Inman Square, Cambridge

Many Americans associate Brazilian restaurants with rodizio style all-you-can-eat buffets or churrascarias, where skewers of meat are brought to your table and sliced directly onto your plate.Screen Shot 2014-05-23 at 2.40.44 PM

Muqueca is a different kind of Brazilian restaurant. Rather than the focus being on meat, most of the menu items at Muqueca are seafood based. Muqueca is both the name of a charming restaurant in Inman Square and the name of a national dish (typically spelled Moqueca).

Naturally, Moqueca is the signature dish here. Moqueca is a Brazilian seafood stew originating from the states of Espirito Santo and Bahia. Moqueca is cooked on top of the stove in clay pots. The seafood is poached in a rich broth, which is seasoned with tomatoes, cilantro, onions, olive oil, and annatto— a natural coloring seed. Coconut milk, palm oil, and if you like, a zest of hot sauce can be used to add flavor, although I personally don’t think you need any of that.

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Moqueca with fish and shrimp

Moqueca is available in a variety of ways: fish only (a mild, flaky white fish); fish with shrimp, mussels, or calamari; or “completa,” with shrimp, fish and mussels. Not a fish eater? Moqueca is also available with plantains and/or tofu.

Moqueca is naturally gluten free. It is made to order and served in the same clay pot it is made in so there is nothing to worry about. The clay pot is served still bubbling from the oven, and waiting for it to cool down is not easy while the savory flavors and bright colors leave you salivating.

We tried two types of Moqueca:  Fish and Calamari ($22.95) and Fish with Shrimp ($22.95).

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Moqueca with fish and calamari

Although Moqueca is called a stew, the broth is very thin and there really isn’t much there to even be called a soup. Nonetheless the dish is rich in flavor, absolutely delicious, and expertly prepared. The portion sizes are quite large and no one could finish their meal.

For appetizers we shared fried plantains ($5.95) and fried yucca with dried beef ($7.95). The plantains were delicious and the yucca were fine.

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Muqueca has two fryers, and one is completely gluten free. Unbelievable, right? I don’t know if they did this for people with gluten allergies or not, but one fryer is used for foods containing flour and the other for frying foods without flour.

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Cod Capixaba

The main highlight here is the moqueca and other fish and seafood dishes. In addition to the two moqueca dishes we also tried the Cod Capixaba ($23.95), salted cod with hard boiled eggs, plantain, coconut milk, tomato, cilantro, and onion. It had a strong coconut flavor and was my favorite dish of the night. Most seafood dishes are served in clay pots with a side of rice.

For the carnivores, there’s red meat on the menu too, including sirloin, roast pork loin and tripe stew. There are also a few vegetarian options, and several dishes can be made with tofu. The juice bar features fresh all natural tropical juices made with passion fruit, acerrola, acai, mango, graviola, and pineapple to name a few.

Located in Cambridge’s Inman Square—where there are quite a few great restaurants, both new and old—Muqueca is worth a visit. If you are in the area, even as an out-of-town visitor, Muqueca should be on your list of places to go.


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