Hot pockets

New fast-food joint brings Brazil's most popular street food to North San Antonio

New fast-food joint brings popular Brazil street food to San Antonio

Zily Bites cheese bread
Zily Bites will introduce Brazilian cheese bread and stuffed croquettes to San Antonio. Photo courtesy of Zily Bites

Forget burgers and fries. A new quick service joint is set to shake up San Antonio’s fast-food scene with international flavors. Zily Bites, specializing in Brazilian street food, will open at 2923 Thousand Oaks, Ste. 5 on September 17.

Owners Hooman and Michelle Mani hope to provide a healthier alternative to standard quick service fare. Hooman tells CultureMap that the main focus will be on “zily bites,” a name the couple coined because the Portuguese name, coxinha, was difficult for many Americans to pronounce.

The tear drop-shaped croquettes — stuffed with filling like mozzarella, spinach and cheese, and chicken — are “more common than pizza” in Brazil, says Hooman. The tiny parcels will be available in packs ranging from eight to 100 pieces, served with a variety of dipping sauces like ranch and hot buffalo.

The shop will also several other popular Brazilian treats including fried yucca, açai bowls, and pão de queijo, a gluten-free cheese bread also made from yucca. Various sandwiches, from simple bolillo toast with butter to ciabatta layered with mortadella, prosciutto, or steak will round out the savory portion of the menu.

For sweets, the eatery will offer passion fruit mousse and brigadeiro (Brazilian truffles) in flavors like coconut, chocolate, and walnut as well as fruit cups for customers looking for fresher options.

The drink menu goes beyond the foundation sodas found at most fast food joints. There’s plenty of caffeine from espresso drinks, tea and sodas made from guarana, a plant popularly used in energy drinks and supplements. For something less buzzy, guests can also order squeezed-to-order orange juice.

Hooman says there will not be alcohol at Zily because he wanted to make sure the restaurant was comfortable for all ages — something personal to him as the father of two young children. In fact, the Manis chose to move to San Antonio from their native Brazil because it is such a family friendly town.

Hooman says that everything in the first shop was built to be easily reproduced and multiplied so Zily Bites could one day expand to other locations. If all goes according to plan, coxinha may soon become as prevalent in Alamo City as tacos.