By Clare Myers
It is getting to be that time of year again, when the homework starts piling up and deadlines start looming. But then again, it’s Charity Week. Who can focus on schoolwork when there are targets to be tracked down in KAOS and unsuspecting friends to be thrown in jail? I cannot advocate that anyone neglect classes during Charity Week, but it must be acknowledged that an all-nighter this Sunday is a very real possibility. For an all-nighter this week or any other, there are more options than camping out in Gorman. Sometimes it is easier to keep up energy and morale off-campus, especially after the Cap Bar closes. For those nights, I turn to Café Brazil. The franchise has 11 locations scattered across the DFW metroplex, each one with its own distinct character. Three locations (Cedar Springs, Richardson and University Park) are open 24/7, but several others are open 24 hours on the weekends. Although I have visited many of them, for this review I will focus on the University Park location, a small café with a patio area. To get straight to the point, Café Brazil offers bottomless coffee ($2.69). Yes, bottomless. There is a coffee bar in the corner with an array of rotating options. “B-52” and “African Blend” are usual suspects, often side-by-side with sweet-sounding brews such as “Caramel Macadamia Nut” and “Crème Brulee.” I have a soft spot for the “Bourbon Pecan,” a blend with notes of vanilla and butterscotch. A friend with a much lower tolerance for sweets prefers the “Brazil Select.” Café Brazil also has a wide variety of other coffee-based drinks and smoothies ($1.69-3.99), but I have never moved beyond the pure roasts. The coffee bar has two major selling points (besides the fact that it is cheap and bottomless): Customers can try a mug of any and every blend available, and the entire area is self-serve. This is a huge bonus for those 3 a.m. moments when caffeine becomes an absolute necessity and the wait staff is nowhere to be seen. The service is usually very good, as the servers are typically attentive and friendly. Although many patrons come for a meal, it is a popular spot to study for hours on end, so the staff is generally understanding toward students and will leave you to your work. That said, I have had a few experiences with waiters who disappeared for much too long. Overall, however, I have found the servers to be very competent. The menu at Café Brazil includes a full range of consistently tasty dishes to sustain an all-nighter, from salads and sandwiches ($6.59 for a “Spinach Salad” to $8.99 for a “Brazilian Beef Sandwich”) to entrees such as “Chicken Fried Steak” and “Coconut Chicken and Quinoa” ($9.99 each). One friend swears by the Monterey Jack-smothered “Migas” ($8.59), a satisfying chorizo and egg combination accompanied by warm tortillas and rosemary potatoes. The “Breakfast Relleno” ($8.99), a stuffed poblano pepper, is another popular choice. I love the “Veggie Crepes” ($8.99), a medley of vegetables topped with tomatillo sauce that is substantial without feeling heavy. Students in a mood for snacking will appreciate the “Chips and Salsa” ($3.99), a huge platter of tortilla chips that includes a free refill. Adding guacamole or queso is an extra $2.79. One downside to the University Park location is its lack of outlets. Only about a third of the tables are close enough to plug in a laptop, though the staff is very accommodating. The real disadvantage of this particular Café Brazil is its proximity to SMU. Late at night, the restaurant can sometimes be invaded by large groups of post-party college students. Though it may not be perfect, in my opinion, Café Brazil is one of the best places to study off-campus.