100 Favorite Dishes: Cazuela Colombiana from Cafe Brazil

 Cazuela Colombiana.jpg
Lori Midson

No. 83: Cazuela Colombiana from Cafe Brazil

Every single time I go to Cafe Brazil, I feel compelled to study the menu -- a menu that I've all but memorized -- even though I nearly always order the same dish, a plate that's been on the board for two decades, ever since Cafe Brazil opened in its original location in north Denver in a Pepto-Bismol pink hut that was roughly the size of a newborn's big toe.

From day one, owner/chef Tony Zarlenga has pumped out some of the best seafood dishes on the planet, most notably his spicy, flavor-bombed stews from Brazil's Bahia state -- stews like the South American cazuela colombina, an herb-scented tomato broth buoyant with shrimp (and chicken, although you can substitute sea scallops), pungent with Gorgonzola, reddened with dende oil and dusts of cayenne pepper and mellowed with the soothing coax of coconut milk. I've trained myself to eat it as slowly as possible, purposefully refusing to finish my plate -- not because I can't, but because the leftovers give me another day to contemplate how I can intravenously push all that brilliance through my veins.

Hungry for more? All the dishes in our countdown are linked below:

No. 100: Italian wedding soup from the Squeaky Bean
No. 99: American Classic Burger (and fries) from Tarbell's
No. 98: E's clam linguini from Mangiamo Pronto
No. 97: Queso a la plancha taco from the Pinche Tacos wagon
No. 96: Prosciutto-wrapped jalapeño poppers from Tony's Market
No. 95: Fried chicken from the Pinyon
No. 94: Seafood soup from Farro

No. 93: Posole from The Porker
No. 92: Breakfast Burrito from the Taco Wagon in Lafayette
No. 91: Hummus from Shish Kabob Grill
No. 90: Albondigas meatballs from Solera
No. 89: Lemon-ricotta doughnuts from Olivéa
No. 88: Döner kabob from Shondiz
No. 87: Roasted cauliflower salad from Euclid Hall
No. 86: Beef cheek enchiladas from El Diablo
No. 85: Fried Brussels sprouts from Panzano
No. 84: Pork osso buco from Osteria Marco

In late 2009, we embarked on a culinary journey that took us through our favorite dishes in the Mile High City -- one hundred, to be exact -- as a precursor to the Best of Denver issue. Now we're back with round two, counting down (in no particular order) a hundred more of our favorite Denver dishes in a list that, by our imperfect calculations, should be wrapped up by the time the Best of Denver 2011 hits the streets on March 31. In the meantime, if there's a dish you think we need to try, tell us about it in the comments section below, or shoot us an e-mail at lori.midson@westword.com.

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Location Info

Cafe Brazil

4408 Lowell Blvd., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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Ryan
Ryan

Chef Tony is equal parts craftsman and artist--this dish is one of his masterpieces...

(WARNING!!! - if you are OCD about defining what "is" and what "isn't" Brazilian food, you will miss an opportunity to enjoy the brilliance, passion and consistent quality that Chef Tony, Mauricio Zorrilla and the staff at Cafe Brazil have delighted Denver diners with for 15 or so years)

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