At Bossa Nova, an easygoing Brazilian café improbably located in Little Rock, Ark., everything is good. But, as my friend Louise says, “I love the black beans so much it’s hard for me to order anything else.”
Although feijoada, Brazil’s most famous dish, is typically ultra-meaty (“In Brazil, we put everything in but the squeal,” says owner Rosalia), we usually end up ordering the vegetarian arroz con feijao (rice with beans), perfected by an herbal slaw-salsa of tomato, onions and cucumber (Vinagrete), with a sprightly collard green salad, and, on the side, devilish little red malagueta peppers in oil.
You can find trim and chic Rosalia at the front of the cafe, but she is happiest in the kitchen, where, in apron and hairnet, she works side by side with the mostly Latino personnel. Bossa Nova hums along tri-lingually: in English, Spanish and her native Portuguese.
—By Crescent Dragonwagon