"Barbecue might be the most opinionated of cuisines," said Charlie Johnson, and you know what? The owner of Q Fanatic BBQ and Grill is absolutely right. It doesn't hurt that he and I are in agreement on what constitutes fantastic barbecue. Namely, meaty pork ribs rubbed with plenty of ground peppers and other complementary spices, slowly cooked over apple wood until the smoke insinuates itself into -- but doesn't overpower -- the meat.

Johnson's pulled pork, similarly smoky and beautifully seasoned, is almost as good as his succulent, slow-roasted chicken. I loved the flavorful brisket, too; all three are served straight up in affordable family-style combination platters and generously stacked in sandwiches built with so-so par-baked rolls that Johnson wisely dresses up with plenty of butter and freshly chopped garlic.

Much of the rest of the menu hits all the right marks. Johnson cures his own brown-sugar-rubbed bacon, and it's terrific. The crunchy cole slaw has a teasing vinegar bite, and the creamy potato salad is little more than hunks of red-skinned new potatoes, hard-cooked eggs and tons of green onions. The baked beans are fortified with scraps of ribs, brisket or bacon. Dessert is a giant chocolate-white chocolate-butterscotch cookie.

Johnson's family -- spouse Jodi and their children Zander, Hannah and Camden -- are the friendly faces behind the counter. When the setup is this accomplished, why eat anywhere else in Champlin?

Brazil comes to Hopkins

The former home of Gusto Cafe and Wine Bar in Hopkins didn't stay dark for long. Happily, the Mainstreet storefront has found new life as Samba Taste of Brazil, where the Pantano family -- Brazilians Jose Luis and Maria Lucia and their son Gabriel -- infuse a warm and gracious sense of hospitality into their colorful, casual restaurant.

The starters start out right: tender rice croquettes, tasty salt cod cakes, grilled bread topped with grilled shrimp liberally dressed with garlic, fried pastries filled with hearts of palm or ground beef, pork-chile sausages smothered with grilled onions.

The home-cooking-style entrees lean on the comfort-food end of the dining spectrum. A stew of black beans and sausages had a crockpot vibe (in a good way) and was served with couscous-like farofa (toasted flour), rice and collard greens. Beef is served a half-dozen ways, usually with mashed potatoes or rice or a cassava puree. Tilapia, lobster and shredded cod also make it on the menu, which is rounded out by several stick-to-your-ribs rice dishes (accompanied by chicken or shrimp) that were billed as risottos but had more of a paella feel.

Some dinner prices veer into the mid-$20s, but most hover in the mid-teens. Lunch's salads, sandwiches and entrees land in the $6 to $9 range. Skip the imported-from-New Jersey desserts and stick with the decent house-made flan. A small market is stocked with Brazilian supermarket staples, and the moderately priced beer and wine rosters include a handful of South American selections.