A clue to the authenticity of Taste of Brasil is in the restaurant’s signage. It’s an S, not a Z; the former is the Portuguese spelling, the national language of the South American country.
Once inside, there’s no doubt about the small eatery’s lineage. Photos of Rio and an array of soccer jerseys, many bearing the number 10 in homage to Pele, provide more clues. Of course, the menu and the food negate any possible remaining uncertainty. This place offers the real deal.
However, that’s not to say everything is perfection; some items are while others only come close.
It’s not often servers are overly friendly and excessively helpful, but those best describe Alex S. Perhaps it was the slow night, but I suspect it’s his nature. His explanation of the menu was exhaustive and, in a way, superfluous given that a laminated page of photos for each dish is provided. Still, we followed some of his suggestions.
We began with coxinhas (three for $8.50). These are in the “Finger Food” category. Shredded chicken is encased in dough, shaped like teardrops and fried. They’re a little large to be eaten by hand, but the chewy and crispy textures are in every bite — though there are only about three or four in each coxinha, unless you’re less dainty. These are served with three house-made sauces: honey mustard, green olive and hot.
The green olive sauce is sharp and tangy; the hot sauce is a slow, subtle palate teaser. The honey mustard is a standard fusion of the two ingredients. Yet the coxinhas are great on their own.
Pot pies may be ordered as entrees, with rice, salad and rice cakes. Smaller versions ($3.50) are available as appetizers. We were on a chicken kick, so that was our filling choice. This round, palm-size pie features flakey, herb-infused pastry encasing shredded chicken. This is comfort food on a small scale. I’d be tempted to order the full pot pie meal on my next visit.
Most entrees include a combination of rice, black beans, rice cakes and yucca fries. The picanha, sirloin cap steak, ($19.99) has all of the above along with a small serving of diced onions and tomatoes in vinaigrette and ground cassava. The latter was a mystery, and we were suddenly ghosted by our previously gregarious server. Fortunately, Chef Alex dropped by to see if all was well and provided an explanation.
He said to add it to the beans for crunch. We also added rice, although the herb-flavored rice needed no further enhancement.
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Back to what should have been the star of the plate, the meat is well marinated offering a blend of flavors. Still, it was disappointing since it was fatty with some pieces significantly less tender than others.
The boneless chicken thigh ($14.95) is pan roasted, cooked in a light sauce of spices and herbs. It’s surprisingly drier than expected. Still, with the rice, beans and rice cakes, this is a plentiful amount of food. Rice cakes, by the way, are small balls of rice, coated with flour and fried.
Taste of Brasil
Brazilian cuisine for dining in or carryout
Location: 773 W. Garden of the Gods Road
Contact: 1-719-394-4194; thetasteofbrasil.com
Prices: $6.25 to $19.99
Hours: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday
Details: Credit cards accepted. Alcohol. Wi-Fi.
Favorite dishes: Coxinhas and pot pie.
Other: Gluten-free and vegan options available.