Unfortunate but true—there are several cuisine types we are rather deficient in here in Little Rock—Thai, Korean, and Spanish immediately come to mind. But remarkably, we’ve been gifted with a very nice Brazilian option in Café Bossa Nova. The Hillcrest staple was established in 2002 by Brazil native Rosalia Monroe, using recipes she brought with her from South America. The place remains a popular dining location for both dinner and lunch, and with the addition of the adjoining bakery, Rosalia’s Family Bakery, this little corner of Little Rock is really quite irreplaceable.

Looking through the menu, one dish in particular may get brushed over rather quickly due to its somewhat odd combination of ingredients. But this dish is placed at the top of the “Especialidades da Casa” section for good reason—the Salpicão deserves your attention.

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It starts with a base bed of white rice topped with shredded chicken—but from there you’ll find chopped Fuji apples, carrots, sweet peas, and herbs all blended with mayonnaise and finished with crispy fried potato strings. An interesting combination, to say the least, for anyone not already familiar with the dish.

But after a little coaxing from my dining companion, I decided to give the dish a shot…and I’m ever so grateful I did. The marriage of flavors and textures in this dish is remarkable. Sweet and salty, crisp and creamy—it’s extremely well balanced and delightful to dig through. The chopped apples—a component I initially balked at—were the stars of the plate, though the crisp potatoes were not far behind.

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My only beef with Bossa Nova is their prices—the Salpicão will set you back about $16, but it’s not even the most expensive of the lunch options, and dinner only goes up from there. With drink and tip, my lunch cost me over $20—and while it was a decently sized portion, it felt a little steep for a casual lunch. Perhaps if they threw in some complementary samples of their “famous” cheese bread, the tab would be a little easier to swallow—but at it is, price is the single factor that limits me from heading to Bossa Nova more often.

But I’ll be back—I’m not done with exploring their intriguing and original menu. I’m inspired by the Salpicão, and I’m eager to eat my way through more of their especialidades. 

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Cafe Bossa Nova is located at 2701 Kavanaugh Suite 203 Little Rock, AR.