Half the interior at Américas [1800 Post Oak Boulevard, (713)961-1492] looks like the inside of a giant woven basket, and the other half looks like a Mayan ruin. When the restaurant first opened, its innovative architecture and cuisine were said to be a weaving together of New World cultures. Now, the place claims to be a South American restaurant. Over the phone, I ask the hostess which South American dishes they serve.
"The food isn't actually South American; it's inspired by South America. The owner, Michael Cordúa, and many of us who work here come from Nicaragua," she explains.
"Um, Nicaragua is in North America," I venture. "That's not what we were taught," she says.
Américas' Caipirinha: The bartender is wearing a black shirt and a bright flowered tie. He comes from Mexico City, and he recommends a caipirinha. This popular Brazilian cocktail is made with limes and the sugarcane distillate called cachaça. It's a refreshing little cocktail that packs a sneaky wallop. And like a margarita, it's very good with spicy food.
1 lime, cut in quarters
2 teaspoons sugar
2 shots cachaça
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Squeeze two lime quarters into a rocks glass and add the sugar. Mix until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cachaça and fill the glass with crushed ice. Squeeze the other two lime quarters over the glass, and then drop the fruit into the drink. Stir and serve. Makes one.