Thanks to all of the hounds for the suggestions at Cafe Brazil. Went last night and had a great time. Good food, fun funky atmosphere, wonderful friends--what more could you want?
I ordered the steak rancheria special. Grilled flank steak marinated in Brazilian spices and topped with red onions and tomatoes ($11). Yummmm...really flavorful and still pink in the middle (too many places overcook flank steak!). It tasted exactly the same as the churrasca beef my friend had, which was just a thicker cut of meat with onions, no tomatoes. These were the best plates at our table. The salmon was eh (just plain grilled salmon), and the tropical shrimp plate was a dud. Shrimp overcooked/rubbery and didn't pack much punch in the flavor department.
As for the sides: had one of the meat appetizers from the glass case--some fried ball with ground beef inside. Very tasty, and better than the ones at Bossa Nova. The black bean soup was really good. Thinner than most, but with a nice spicy kick to it. It was better than the vegetable soup, a simple consomme with carrots and celery. I enjoyed mixing the black beans with that side chunky salsa. What's in there anyway? It was too dark to tell, but it's different than Mexican-style salsas.
I devoured my entire plate but had to try the apple tart based on everyone's recs. I'm sad to say I was a bit disappointed! Sugar was too caramelized and burnt...overwhelmed the taste of the apples. Still, we ate it all but only with some prodding. Hopefully, it was just an off night because I plan on coming back and trying more dishes and will get the apple tart again!
Oh, and those plantains...those hit the spot...