Brazil’s flag hangs proudly under the front counter at Little Brazil. The flag––vibrant green, yellow, and blue––reveals the eatery’s menu: flavorful and authentic Brazilian food. Chefs simmer pots full of black beans, smoked sausage, pork sirloin, bacon, and Brazilian dried beef. They blanket chicken cutlets in a sauce crafted from cream, garlic, tomatoes, onions, and mustard. The chefs’ sweet and savory pastries––with such fillings as chicken and Brazilian cream cheese, or cinnamon and banana––are deep-fried or shellacked at patrons’ request.
The chefs at Cafe Brazil use ingredients such as coconut milk, chili oil, and lime to flavor fresh seafood and cuts of meat, creating dishes that transport diners' taste buds to the far-off continent of South America. But their menu isn't solely Brazilian—they describe it instead as "Novo Latino," drawing upon the cuisines of Colombia, Argentina, and Chile, as well as more-far flung influences such as Spain, Italy, and France. This makes for a varied menu; the seafood Copacabana, for example, includes shrimp, scallops, and coconut milk accented with Italian parsley and parmesan cheese. Keeping it more traditional, the feijoada completa—Brazil's national dish—consists of a black-bean stew with smoked meats. More than 75 varieties of rum await visitors in the brightly tiled Rum Room, where the alcohol can be sipped neat or mixed into a mojito. Non-rum options abound as well, including the caipirinha, Brazil's national cocktail made with cachaça liquor and lime. The restaurant offers complimentary tapas in the Rum Room, giving drinkers something to nibble on while toasting. For those opting to eat in the dining room, reservations are recommended, as the casual, vibrantly colored space can get quite crowded.
At Fogo de Chao, a behemoth Brazilian churrascaria in the heart of LoDo, skewer-wielding, Gaucho-costumed servers in puffy black pants saunter from table to table, tempting carnivores with more than a dozen different meats – think filet mignon, top sirloin, sausage, salted ribeye and mint-marinated lamb – that are carved tableside and plucked off the skewers with tiny tongs. And the meat just keeps on coming and coming until you flip your coaster to red, which indicates that your belly needs a break from the gluttony. Luckily, there’s an impressive salad bar, too – but like the meat parade, it’s hardly pedestrian: imported cheeses, breads, hearts of palm and marinated vegetables, including artichokes, stock the display, which is replenished long before anything has vanished. With its comfortable seating and elegant touches, Fogo de Chao is perfect for a special occasion, or just a meat-frenzied evening with friends.
With nods from USA Today, CBS News, and The Washington Post, Rodizio Grill has made a name for itself as an authentic Brazilian charrascuria—a South American–style rotisserie. Founded by São Paolo–born Ivan Utrera, the cuisine comprises of select cuts of meat, which are slow-roasted on a spit and then skewered. It also features fish, grilled pineapple, and unlimited trips to an award-winning salad bar with over 40 items. Gauchos—also known as Brazilian cowboys—bustle about the restaurant, bringing unlimited slices of tender meat to diners who can also grab fresh vegetables and homemade salads at the gourmet salad bar, as well as enjoy Brazilian appetizers served directly to the table.
Packed with jet-setting tourists and powerhouse locals, the Palm, the signature restaurant in the downtown Denver Westin hotel, puts its meat where its mouth is, unleashing superior cuts of beef at prices that match the pedigree. Still, this clubby, expense-account stalwart knows its way around steer, and no matter how you slice it, the beef is hefty, well-seasoned and cooked to perfection. The cow is served a la carte, but side dishes, including creamed spinach, Brussels sprouts glistening with butter and potatoes au gratin ensure you won’t leave hungry. Caricatures of local celebrities and long-standing regulars surface the walls, while the dining room boasts masculine dark woods, tables topped with starchy white linens and cushy booths the color of evergreen. The voluminous wine list, which has generated numerous awards, is worthy of exploration, as are the cocktails.
The hand-cut USDA Prime steaks at Elway’s have garnered consistent recognition from 5820 magazine, OpenTable, and Gayot, who named it one of the top 10 steakhouses in America. Though diners go wild over the choice cuts, including the bone-in rib eye and the 28-ounce porterhouse, the lamb fondue really makes them melt, with its green-chili cheese and side of roasted sweet potatoes. It’s not just about the meat, though—side dishes, especially the au gratin and Yukon gold potatoes, are “worth the trip,” says Gayot.
Though its collection tops out at more than 650 varietals, Elway’s prides itself on its unique, yet down-to-earth selections. Guests can enjoy more than 40 wines by the glass, or order by the bottle at a reasonable price.
It wouldn’t be John Elway’s restaurant without ample high-definition TVs streaming the big games and reverent displays of Broncos memorabilia. Although the man himself is known to drop by both the flagship Cherry Creek location and the Denver eatery on occasion, diners who miss him can console themselves with first-class fare that earned a #1 ranking on USA Today’s list of athlete-owned restaurants.