Many Chicagoans will recognize pão de queijo as the warm cheesy buns served at all-you-can-eat churrascarias such as Fogo de Chao. Crafty gluttons eschew them, knowing that the reason they're continually replenished is to take up precious stomach space that might otherwise be filled with expensive beef. That trick doesn't fly in many South American countries, where pão de queijo are a ubiquitous street snack that can be enjoyed under any circumstance. Jorge Flores is shrinking the city's pão de queijo deficit at his new Wrigleyville bakery, devoted exclusively to products made with gluten-free flour processed from the cassava tuber. Four varieties of pão de queijo (pan de yuca in his native Ecuador) are offered: regular, jalapeño and white cheddar, kalamata olive and feta, and sun-dried tomato and basil. Though the place could use a caramel-filled option, each flavor has its merits in addition to a slight sourdoughlike fermented tang. Yet those I tried were doughy and leaden under the crisp exterior, like an undercooked pizza crust and unlike the airier steak-house versions—a problem that might be addressed by purchasing them frozen and baking at home, an option Flores offers. I had much better luck with the cassava-and-coconut-flour berry muffins; neither was too sweet, and both had a hint of salt. Smoothies made with Greek yogurt and fruit are available with flaxseed, whey, or almond-meal upgrades, along with Metropolis coffee and hot chocolate rendered from molten bars. There's also pumpkin soup, and experiments are under way on a grass-fed-beef-and-cassava chili.
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