There might not be any palm trees swaying in the breezes but step into Brazo in Portsmouth on Pleasant Street in Porsmouth and it certainly feels like a café in Buenos Aires. There's a dark, mysterious vibe with salsa music playing quietly, dark wood-top tables and cozy circular booths wrapped in brown suede-like-fabric. In the back corner of the restaurant is an orange glow from the beautiful glass pendant lamps hanging over a copper-topped bar. This is the setting for Latin-inspired cuisine and cocktails created from mixing Caribbean, South American and New England ingredients and techniques.
The cocktail list has many selections under the headings: Rum, Latin Cocktails, Mojitos, Margaritas and Tequila. The Brazo Cosmo ($10) from the Latin Cocktails list, mixed silver tequila, triple sec, lime and cranberry juice, all in perfect balance. The wine list has a mere 33 selections but was daring enough to seem like more. It's heavy on South American wines; most by-the-glass selections are $10.
The Tapas Plate, $11 per person, in the 'To Start' menu, changes daily with its offerings of different small bites such as Bloody Mary deviled egg, pork taquito, fried black bean cake, salmon salad crostini or grilled skirt steak with corn salsa. Though Latin influenced, most menu selections veer towards a sweet component from the use of fresh fruits and sweet vinaigrettes rather than hot and spicy. The catch of the day, a very large and fresh swordfish steak with cilantro cream, was accompanied by very sweet couscous and an arugula and clementine salad with a sweet vinaigrette dressing ($24).
Every day of the week offers a different Happy Hour (5 p.m. to 7 p.m.) with specials such as $5 mojitos on Mondays or $5 fish tacos on Fridays.