Little Brazil -- and its feijoada -- relocates from Westminster to Wheat Ridge

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Finding feijoada in this city is no easy task. The national dish of Brazil, a thick, inky South American stew -- almost like a cassoulet -- stocked with black beans, garlic, sausage and other animal flesh, is available at Cafe Brazil, and, once a week, on Saturday, you could also savor its attributes at Little Brazil, a modest market and makeshift restaurant wedged into a corner of a Westminster strip mall, barely visible from the street.

Little Brazil closed its Westminster location several months ago, leaving those of us with an affinity for feijoada, especially during Saturday lunch, with dwindling choices. But in November of last year, owner Kallen Marquez reopened Little Brazil in Wheat Ridge, in a former pizza joint at 26th and Kipling, in another small mall.

"We looked for a space for a long time, but the rent was great here, there's lots of parking and it came equipped with a kitchen, which was really important," says manager Rachel Axtman, noting that in the old space, all of the food was made in a commissary kitchen. "Now we have the ability to make everything right here, and it makes all the difference in the world, because everything is absolutely fresh."

Like the original Little Brazil, there are shelves stocked with Brazilian sweets and specialty products (although there's no hot sauce...but it's coming), a corner dedicated to Brazilian soccer jerseys and a refrigerator trumpeting housemade desserts. The menu, written on a dry-erase board, pimps variations of kibe, coxinha, empadinhas, pastels and risoles, a new addition to the menu, along with feijoada and estroganofe de frango, chicken blanketed with a cream sauce that's accompanied by match stick potatoes. But it's still the steaming feijoada, served in a bowl, and plated with a knoll of white rice, orange wedges, farofa, a gritty, toasted manioc flour and ribbons of collard greens, that's the best dish -- and it's now available six days a week, Monday through Saturday.

And according to Axtman, guests are soaking it up. "We have a lot more American customers trying our food for the first time, and the feojoida is really popular," she says. "Before, we had mostly Brazilians, but it's been great seeing so many new faces, and we have a lot of people who have come in more than once, which is really nice to see."

The ideal sidekick to feijoada is a Brazilian beer, but until Little Brazil gets its liquor license (Axtman says it's in the works), you'll have to settle for a can of Brazilian soda. She notes, too, that once the liquor license is in place, they'll expand their dinner hours, along with the menu.

I stopped by last week for lunch to check out the space and taste what I'd been missing, the photos of which are on the following page.

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