When Verena Arus moved to the U.S. from Brazil in 2006, she had no intention of starting her own restaurant.

Arus initially came to America to play volleyball while obtaining her degree from San Jacinto College. After graduating, she took a job in the oil industry. However, Arus said it was not until she met her husband, Misael Miranda, at a jiujitsu tournament that the idea to open Acai Brasil began to form.

“My husband had just arrived from Brazil, and he has a passion for acai,” Arus said. “Everywhere we went, we figured out that they serve blended acai. ... That’s not how they make it back home.”

After starting Acai Brasil out of their home in 2016, the couple opened their first brick-and-mortar location in February 2017 off Lee Road in Humble. The eatery offers Brazilian finger foods in addition to juices, smoothies and acai bowls.

According to Arus, acai—dubbed “nature’s purple gold”—is packed with vitamins, antioxidants and nutrients and takes on the texture of ice cream when prepared.

“It’s very powerful and produces a lot of benefits for your body—mental, digestive,” Arus said, noting all acai bowls are dairy and gluten free. “We call it ‘vegan ice cream.’”

In addition to a wide variety of acai bowls containing a bevy of fruits, granola and other toppings, Arus said she wanted to offer smaller portions of Brazilian cuisine to give customers a chance to try dishes from her native country.

While many restaurants struggled throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Arus said Acai Brasil flourished.

“We didn’t close through COVID, and because of that, people started searching for places to eat,” she said, noting the restaurant became so busy it would routinely run out of inventory early in the week.

To meet the demand, the couple moved the restaurant to a larger location on West Lake Houston Parkway in May 2021.

Looking to the future, Arus said she hopes to one day franchise the business to other Greater Houston-area communities.

Above all, Arus said she is happy to bring a taste of Brazil to Houston.

“For us to see people prioritizing having an acai bowl over other things, it makes us really happy,” she said.

Acai Brasil

12230 W. Lake Houston Parkway, Ste. 150, Houston



Hours: Mon.-Thu. 10 a.m.-8 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 10 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. 1-8 p.m.