A Taste of Portugal - Uma Casa [Thoughts + Pics]

Portuguese cuisine is still relatively uncommon in L.A., so when @ipsedixit recommended a new Portuguese restaurant in the Bay Area, we knew we had to try it on our next trip up to SF. :slight_smile:

Walking in, Uma Casa is nicely lit, warm and cozy in many ways.

(Complimentary) Housemade Chips & Tomato Dip:

The Housemade Potato Chips were nice and crispy, but what really made them sing was the Moroccan Chili, Tomato and Bell Pepper Dip. Lightly spicy, but savory, sweet and so addictive we couldn’t stop eating them. :slight_smile:

We originally wanted to order some Bacalhau (Salt Cod) dishes based on @robert’s great review, but unfortunately they were sold out of Bacalhau on our visit(!). :cry:

Polvo Dourado (Cornmeal Crusted Octopus, Roasted Pepper Emulsion, Black Eye Peas, Watercress Salad):

Thankfully their Polvo Dourado was delicious and a great starter! :slight_smile: The Cornmeal Crust gave the Octopus a slight crispiness, but the actual Octopus inside was perfectly cooked, tender, and the Roasted Red Pepper Emulsion complemented each bite nicely, along with a bit of the bright, Spring-like Watercress.

Torresmos Agridoce (Crispy Pork Riblets, Spicy Passion Fruit Glaze, Cabbage-Herb Slaw):

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The Torresmos Agridoce was another surprise: Crispy Pork Riblets resulted in a slightly crunchy exterior to firm, meaty Pork Riblets, but the Spicy Passion Fruit Sauce made it like a delicious Portuguese take on “Sweet & Sour Pork” in a way. :smile: But more focused and the Passion Fruit provided a more natural, interesting take on sweet notes, a touch of piquant and fruity.

Sardinhas Grelhadas (Grilled Sardines, Onions, Peppers, Red Wine Vinegar, Olive Oil, Egg, Grilled Levain):

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@ipsedixit was right! This Sardinhas Grelhadas (Grilled Sardine) dish was a nice highlight: Intensely briny (in a good way), nice charred silver skin on the exterior, delicious, naturally oily, pungent Sardine on the inside. :blush:

Note: Sardines here are not deboned, so if you don’t like to fuss with fish bones (and there are a lot), it might be better to try other dishes.

Peixe do Dia (Pan Roasted Halibut, Roasted Sweet Potato, Sautéed Greens, “Molho Cru”):

Recommended heartily by our server, their Peixe do Dia (Pan Roasted Halibut) turned out to be nicely cooked: A perfect medium-rare, moist, tender, delicate Halibut with a nice pan-seared upper crust. The Seasonal Greens were fine, but we were hoping for a bit more flavor infusion into the Halibut itself (rather than accompaniments on the side).

Dessert time!

Port - Quinta do Crasto Colheita 1997:

I’m not an expert on Port by any means, but our server recommended this Quinta do Crasto Colheita '97 with our Dessert. Intense, sweet (but not overly sweet), smooth and round, this was a nice sipper by itself. :slight_smile:

They didn’t have any Rice Pudding on this visit @ipsedixit, but we also just had to order this for comparison’s sake:

Pastel de Nata (Portuguese Egg Custard Tart):

Probably a testament to growing up in culturally diverse part of America (Los Angeles), I ended up being exposed to the Hong Kong / Macau version of an Egg Tart long before running across the OG Portuguese version. :sweat_smile: But finally, we were in an actual Portuguese restaurant, serving freshly made from scratch traditional Portuguese Egg Custard Tarts! We couldn’t wait!

First, this arrives piping hot, with a beautiful crisped outer pastry crust.

Taking a bite: The Egg Custard center is far more sweet than any Hong Kong / Macau / Chinese-version of a Portuguese Egg Tart that we’ve ever had. :open_mouth: It was just on the border of being saccharine, but thankfully didn’t go over.

How sweet was it? After taking a bite and then sipping some of the Port, it made the Port taste muted and almost tart in comparison(!).

We loved the fresh-baked nature, the crisped outer shell, the piping hot, almost liquid custard center, but maybe it’s because we’re used to eating the versions around Los Angeles, but it was too sweet and more Vanilla and Sugar than the eggy, less sweet, but more enjoyable versions like at Jim’s Bakery.

I’m really glad to have tried the OG Portuguese Egg Tart, but somehow we prefer the Hong Kong / Macau interpretations more. I’ll leave it up to our Egg Tart experts to do a better comparison (@ipsedixit @J_L @PorkyBelly @attran99 @TheCookie @paranoidgarliclover @beefnoguy @Ns1 @JeetKuneBao and others). :slight_smile:

Uma Casa was a pleasant dining exploration into Portuguese cuisine. We’d gladly return to enjoy more of their Polvo Dourado (Cornmeal Crusted Octopus) and Sardinhas Grelhadas (Grilled Sardines) among other things. And hopefully we’ll be able to try their Pasteis de Bacalhau (Salt Cod Fritters) or Bacalhau Gomes de Sa (Baked Salt Cod Casserole, Potatoes, Caramelized Onions) next time, when it’s not sold out.

Uma Casa
1550 Church St.
San Francisco, CA 94131
Tel: (415) 829-2264

https://www.umacasarestaurant.com/

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Cool. That’s our old neighborhood and we’re planning a trip down this summer. Thanks.

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You might not have found a parking space much closer than your house.

Welcome to SF Bay Area! Looking forward to more reviews of the places you will be visiting! I still haven’t been to Uma Casa yet, so thanks for this.

As far as the OG tart goes, Cafe St Jorge is ok for San Francisco (it’s a cafe). But you really need to head to Little Portugal in San Jose for the better stuff; 101 and Alum Rock Avenue. Popular Bakery in San Jose does it quite well. The Macau version came about as a way to cater towards locals, less sweet but retains the impact, but still leaving you feel less of a glutton.

Bacalhau Grill in San Jose (same area) is a mix of Portugese and Brazilian, but their dishes are fan freaking tastic. It’s a market with some steam table style fair and you can get a plate of protein, starch for a fee and it really hits the spot.

Then there’s Cafe DoCanto in the area. Fantastic rich and a bit bitter espresso, and Garato (Portugese style coffee), their ham and cheese sandwich is freaking amazing.

Avoid Adega though, terrible food (can’t believe they got a star last year… but lost it for 2019).

For a rendition of the Macau egg tart, the one at Mr Bread on Taraval in SF is not bad, though I prefer their regular egg tart.

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Hi @beefnoguy,

Thanks! :slight_smile: Great info on other Portuguese cuisine in the area. So your favorite is Popular Bakery in San Jose? I’ll have to check it out next time my schedule is clear to head further out from SF.

And Bacalhau Grill sounds great along with the other 2 restaurants. Thanks. :slight_smile:

So in general what we experienced at Uma Casa is what you’ve had as well? That the OG Portuguese Egg Tart is sweeter than the Macau and HK versions? That’s been our experience so far trying it at 3 Portuguese places.

We used to spend A LOT of time in Rio so will have to check this out. Thanks.

Uma Casa offering Takeout during the pandemic. It sounds delicious (Portuguese inflected Cheeseburger, Pork Stew, Shrimp Risotto, Piri-Piri Chicken, and Fried Chicken Fridays!) (wish we were up there able to try it):

https://www.umacasarestaurant.com/take-out-pick-up-menus