Just stepping inside the restaurant is a quick cultural trip. The walls are painted bold primary colors and adorned with traditional Brazilian artwork. It's a popular place, and busy, but you should still count on taking your time, enjoying the atmosphere and soaking up the smells and the sounds. (In this way, it's like the bustling city of Rio.) If you're in a hurry, this isn't the spot for dinner. But if you have time for a leisurely look at the drink menu -- which includes caipirinhas as well as an astonishing array of rum flights -- and an even more leisurely look at the dinner menu, then Cafe Brazil is the place for you.
The dining room is usually packed with returning diners, some of whom might not have stopped by in several years and some of whom are Cafe Brazil regulars. On my recent visit, I sat near a table of (mostly roly-poly, mostly out-of-town) businessmen, who were listening to a local proudly showing off his knowledge of the menu, the servers and the owners. (One of his table-mates attempted to order a Captain Morgan mixed drink and was soon schooled in several higher-quality spiced rums to atone for the lack of pirate-themed beverages in the building.) At another nearby table sat five middle-aged women meeting up, a la Sex and the City, to gossip and eat.