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Where to find pasteles, the addictive fried Brazilian pies, in Pico-Union

Where to find <i>pasteles</i>, the addictive fried Brazilian pies, in Pico-Union
Brazilian pasteles are offered at Squarefritz in Pico-Union. (Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee / For The Times)

Name of restaurant: Squarefritz. Owner André Lee said that he essentially made up the name. Born in Brazil, Lee moved to Los Angeles with his family about 10 years ago. After missing his beloved pasteles (a fried Brazilian pie with filling) for a decade, he decided that he'd better just start making his own. He opened the restaurant just 6 weeks ago. He didn't want to confuse the Brazilian pastel with the Spanish word for cake, "pastel." He got "fritz" from pommes frites, and the square part refers to the shape of the pastel (even though they are actually rectangular).

Where you are: Located in a mini-mall in Pico-Union. It's directly across the street from the Secret Garden restaurant, where you will have been to one too many wedding banquets if you're a Korean Angeleno.

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What you're eating: Brazilian street food by way of Seoul. Start with the pastel especial de feira. It's a perfectly fried flat rectangle, filled with ground beef, onions, tomato, mozzarella cheese, a slice of ham and half a hard-boiled egg. The filled pastry is like a cross between a gourmet Hot Pocket and a Pop Tart, except it's deep fried in a homemade pastry shell. The pastry is perfectly crusty with tiny air bubbles rising up from the quick fry. The neatly cut edges are cooked to a golden brown. Similar but better than an egg roll wrapping, the pastry dough is made fresh daily from a family recipe.

The bulgogi pastel from Squarefritz in Pico-Union.
The bulgogi pastel from Squarefritz in Pico-Union. (Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee / For The Times)

What else you're eating: The yellow dog is a great example of how hot dogs are made on the streets of Sao Paulo — with corn, cheese, shoestring potatoes and a generous topping of mashed potatoes. Spoon on some of the housemade sweet and spicy sauce for good measure.

Other pastel standouts include the bulgogi — the Korean-style marinated meat should be self-explanatory — and the chicken, which may look boring, but the combination of shredded chicken, cream cheese and onion is more exciting than it sounds.

The "yellow dog" from Squarefritz in Pico-Union.
The "yellow dog" from Squarefritz in Pico-Union. (Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee / For The Times)

What you're looking at: The wooden placards on the wall invite you to eat, dream, and follow house rules. If a soccer game is going on, ESPN Deportes will be on the flat-screen TV above the entrance to the kitchen.

What you're drinking: A can of Guaraná Antartica, which is considered the national drink of Brazil, can be yours for just $2.50. Guarana beverages are made from the seeds of the Amazonian tree and contain a good amount of caffeine.

Info: 1930 W. Olympic Blvd, Pico-Union, (213) 263-2500, www.squarefritz.com.

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