Casa Tropical brings a little taste of Brazil to College Street with Brazilian-style pound cakes and brigadeiro desserts beside home-cooked hot meals and sandwiches.
Dani Olimecha and her daughter Anna moved to Toronto from Brazil in 2015, and are happy to offer the flavours of their home country in a neighbourhood with few other Brazilian restaurants.
Featuring large front windows, clean white walls with signs bearing sweet messages, and a wraparound counter with all of their cakes placed front and centre, the bright space is welcoming and cheery.
For a quick lunch, you can build your own salad or protein combo (ranging from $10.89 - $14.59), served cafeteria-style.
Salmon, rotisserie chicken, chicken parmesan, roast beef with mushrooms and gravy, and Italian meatballs (made with a mix of Brazilian and Italian spices) are all made fresh each morning in the back kitchen.
It comes with your choice of white or brown rice with lentils or quinoa and a salad with nearly 20 different toppings to choose from including crunchy onions, hickory chips, chickpeas, edamame, tomatoes, and red beets.
They also have a few sandwiches. The Rotisserie Chicken Sandwich ($12.59) comes on soft floury bread and is piled high with half a chicken. It's dressed with garlic mayo, cheese, mixed greens, carrots, crunchy onions, and a made-in-house hot sauce on the side.
If you're anything like me, you'll beeline for the beautifully-decorated cakes which are sometimes topped with Ferrero Rocher.
With lots of different brigadeiro and dulce de leche options, the cake offerings tend to change depending on what they're baking that week and can be preordered or bought by the slice in-store.
The Nutella Brigadeiro Cake (slice: $4.50, 6-slice cake: $25, 8-slice cake: $30), framed with chocolate shavings on all sides and topped with fresh strawberries and five traditional brigadeiro balls, which are each a dessert in their own right, comes with layers of Nutella and condensed milk inside.
The Brazilian Churro Cake (slice: $4.50, 6-slice cake: $25, 8-slice cake: $30) brings you the taste of the delicious cinnamon dough sticks in cake form with sweet sticky dulce de leche layered with a moist cinnamon cake.
If what you're after is more of a bite-sized treat, they have small traditional brigadeiro balls ($2 each) in a number of different flavours including the traditional milk chocolate and condensed milk, crunchy milk chocolate, crunchy white chocolate, and regular white chocolate.
Besides the sweeter options, they have a selection of savoury pastries like traditional Brazilian croquettes.
Each one comes with a different filling ranging from cheese and ham and cheese to chicken, while kibe is a Brazilian beef croquette (box of five: $6.99). The dough is made from scratch and fried before serving.
The Milk Hot Chocolate (regular: $3.50) has quickly become another popular feature on the menu due to its rich and creamy flavour that's achieved with a mix of milk, heavy cream and high-quality milk chocolate.
This restaurant, bakery and cafe on College St. provides ultra-sweet and decadent Brazilian desserts while also offering well-rounded, homemade meals made with healthy ingredients. It's already proving to be a popular spot.