Best South American restaurant (2000)

Café Brazil

Since Tony and Marla Zarlenga opened Café Brazil a decade ago, a few other South American eateries have appeared in the Denver area. But none have come close to duplicating the intense flavors that Marla cooks up in the kitchen or the warm hospitality that emanates from your host, Tony. Step into this tiny, colorful storefront and prepare to have your tastebuds danced on by some of the most vivacious cooking in town: chile-fired, coconut-sweetened fish dishes, smoked meats in citrusy stews, perfectly fried, greaseless calamari rings with a zippy marinara, even a zesty mango dressing on the salads. The entrees all come ringed with herb-infused rice and steamed and sautéed vegetables; sweet tortes made from mangoes and the lulo, a hairy Colombian fruit similar to a kiwi, make for exotic finishes. Don't miss the concentrated black-bean soup or the moist banana bread, either. In fact, the important thing is not to miss out on Café Brazil at all.


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