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America’s 13 Best Brazilian Steakhouses


From rodizio with a water view at Texas de Brazil’s Miami location to piano music with dinner at Churrascaria Plataforma in New York City, all of these Brazilian steakhouses make sure that you won’t go home hungry.

America’s 13 Best Brazilian Steakhouses (Slideshow)

At a Brazilian steakhouse, you won’t see a traditional menu. This type of steakhouse is better defined as a churrascaria, essentially a barbecue, and is a carnivore’s nirvana of prix fixe all-you-can-eat meat selections, served tableside in succession. This method of serving, called rodizio, originated in southern Brazil’s Pampa region in the 1800s but has begun to infiltrate the United States much more recently.

The rodizio serving style harkens back to the fireside roasts of the Brazilian cowboys, or, gaúchos. Nowadays, these gaúchos make for a highly attentive, customer-focused team. At a churrascaria, they come to the table with knives and skewers with grilled beef (picanha is a signature cut of beef), chicken, pork, lamb, and sometimes seafood, continuously circulating the restaurant. To give an idea of the volume of food, diners are given little discs — usually green on one side, red on the other—to indicate to the gaúchos if selections should keep coming, or if a break is needed from the continuous stream of food. As if that’s not enough, they’ll also bring traditional Brazilian side dishes of polenta, fried bananas, rice, mashed potatoes, and the popular pão de queijo: cheesy little tapioca-based rolls.

But there is more appetizing news, even for those who may not favor a dinner that looks like something out of a Flintstones cartoon. The flip side of churrascarias is that large salad bars (and usually a hot buffet) are important features that get (nearly) equal attention. These have vegetables and fruits, to be sure, but also give diners a chance to try dishes such as feijoada (black bean stew), empadinhas de palmito (bread stuffed with a hearts of palm filling), macarrão (a pasta dish), and yucca dishes, plus there are usually plenty of non-Brazilian selections.

We ranked the churrascarias by the most authentic Brazilian fare, the most stellar service, the best variety in the side dishes and salad bar, and interior design of the restaurant. The best of our picks excel in all of the categories.

Some churrascarias are more upscale than others, and many are part of chains, but they are all family-friendly and known for their tradition of customer service. To find out about restaurants around the country that offer rodizio service, read on — and if it's your first time at a churrascaria, the best advice is to show up ravenous!


The 4 Brazilian Steakhouses in Westchester That Will Make Your Mouth Water

It’s every meat-lover’s dream. Imagine: mounds of flame-roasted meats lugged around a restaurant by servers, like loyal subjects carrying an emperor’s throne. Need more meat? You can get more meat, all deliciously crafted by Brazilian-trained gaucho chefs, practiced in the centuries-old grilling tradition of churrasco.

Need a moment to comprehend how much meat you just scarfed down? Sure. But the second you need to refuel, it’s right there for the taking. These are Westchester’s Brazilian steakhouses.

Where can you find such a paradise? Well, we’re about to tell you. Keep on reading to find the best Brazilian steakhouses in our beloved county.

Texas de Brazil

Yonkers
At Texas de Brazil, the menu is at a fixed price that includes a continuous dining service for meats, salads, and side items. That means for one price you can have as many servings as you’d like! Music to our ears. Head to Ridge Hill Plaza to check out their juicy offerings, like an herb-marinated pork loin, flank steak, parmesan-crusted pork loin, chicken wrapped in bacon, and more.


America’s 50 best steakhouses

From grand Las Vegas carnivore temples helmed by world-famous chefs to old-school Middle-American chophouses where a rib-eye is preceded by a visit to the salad bar, from clubby Chicago dining rooms loaded with mahogany and brass to New York institutions with now-household names, America has no shortage of great steakhouses. These are the 50 best.

We’re lucky enough to live in a country that has more varieties of steakhouses (and restaurants in general) than previous generations could have ever imagined. There are the cavernous Wild West establishments where everyone seems to be wearing a Stetson and a pair of cowboy boots the power-broker-with-an-expense-account clubhouses the joints that serve steak at the bar but don’t quite fall into the bar-and-grill category and the modernist steakhouses that turn all these conventions upside down. All types of steakhouses are included in our ranking of America’s best.

The best steakhouses in America are places of worship built to honor the deceptively complex art of a perfectly cooked steak. Whether they’re clad in red leather or plywood, décor is only one aspect of the overall steakhouse experience. When it comes down to it, it’s all about the steak. From ripping-hot broilers to red oak grills, these restaurants do it right.

To assemble our fifth annual ranking of the best steakhouses in America, we started by compiling a list of more than 200 of America’s leading steakhouses, culled from pre-existing rankings by leading authorities both in print and online, and also based on suggestions from chefs and restaurateurs from across America. For the sake of fairness, we excluded chains with more than a handful of locations, like Capital Grille, Fleming’s, and Smith & Wollensky (We’ve ranked those here). We also barred restaurants that don’t focus primarily on steaks, such as San Francisco’s House of Prime Rib (prime rib is technically a roast, not a steak) and New York’s Minetta Tavern. Ethnic steakhouses, like Brazilian churrascarias, were also left out since they form a category of their own.

We then judged them according to strict criteria: Is the meat sourced reputably and USDA Choice or Prime? Is it dry-aged, and if not, is it as high-quality as can be? Is it served at the proper doneness without fail and with a touch of ceremony? Is it revered by locals and out-of-towners alike? We also considered the overall steakhouse experience. No matter the setting, the service must be top-notch, the attention to detail should be spot-on, and diners should feel compelled to sit back in their chair after their meal, pleasantly stuffed and content in the knowledge that they just ate one heck of a steak.

So journey with us to a fabled dining room on a ranch in a small Texas town, a Tampa legend with seven different cuts in 51 sizes and a 7,000-bottle wine list, Las Vegas palaces run by the likes of Batali and Jean-Georges, a New York spot that’s famous for its steaks and infamous for a mob hit, and everywhere in between on our quest to find the 50 best steakhouses in America.


2. The Authenticity is Worth Paying for

When you go to your local Brazilian restaurant, you will be getting pretty darn authentic food. Most owners or cooks are actually from the country, so the taste you get is real and really good.

Especially when compared to the Americanized versions of other cuisines like Italian or Mexican food, you won’t have the Americanized knock-off version of the food. By that, we mean there’s no national Taco Bell version of a Brazilian steakhouse.

Although Brazilian steakhouses are buffet or buffet-style, they still maintain the quality and value of being a finer dining establishment. This is often reflected in the higher pricing of meals there.

Steakhouses especially are known to be pricier than some of the average chain-restaurants. This is because of the great quality of meat you get when you order and the overall atmosphere.


Preparation

Prepare an open-flame grill. A medium to high temperature is required and the flames must get very close to the meat.

Apply a generous amount of rock salt to the flank steak without rubbing it, the salt must be loose or the meat will be too salty.

Take the meat to the grill and cook for about 5 minutes each side for medium rare, turning only once.

Once ready, grab the flank steak with large tongs and hit the meat with the side of a large knife to eliminate the extra salt.


What other meats can I expect when eating rodizio-style?

In addition to the house special picanha, Brazilian steakhouses or churrascarias offer a wide variety or grilled meats. Commonly there’s chicken wrapped in bacon, sirloin steak, filet mignon, sausages, beef short ribs, lamb, pork ribs, grilled chicken and even grilled pineapple. The pineapple is so good! With the cinnamon… don’t even get me started. We offer our own version of the recipe on our blog.

When we visited Portugal last year we had the pleasure of being treated to a fish and seafood rodizio. Same concept, but with fish and shellfish instead of red meat and chicken. So good!


Casa do Porco

Today’s hottest restaurant in São Paulo is Casa do Porco, in the revitalized city center. Literally translating as “House of the Pig,” it offers diners a true journey to the countryside of Brazil’s southeast and its delicious and hearty cuisine which, as the name suggests, involves quite a lot of pork.

Head chef Jefferson Rueda, one of the rising stars on the Brazilian food scene, seeks to bring all of the flavors of the classic home cooking of his birthplace of São José do Rio Pardo, a small town deep into the countryside of São Paulo state and close to the border with Minas Gerais. However, while on the one hand focusing on tradition and authenticity, Rueda has also managed to create some incredibly innovative dishes which would not look out of place on the tables of the swankiest restaurants around the world.The best way to get the full Casa do Porco experience is by ordering the tasting menu (“De Tudo Um Porco”), which includes an incredible ten starters, followed by Rueda’s signature main course, the Porco San Zé – slow-roasted pork with a number of delicious sides. While the main is delicious, it is the selection of starters that really steals the show. With fascinating combinations such as a pork tartar with bone marrow served on a homemade crisp bread, pork jowl sushi with black tucupi (pictured above), and pork belly crackling with guava jam, each as curious and delicious as the last, the tasting menu is an absolute must-order at this absolute must-visit restaurant.


50 Easy Brazilian Recipes to Must Try & Make Your Mouth Water

17. Brazilian Flan (Pudim) from Cynthia Presser

21. Quindim

23. Brazilian Vinaigrette Salsa from Olivia’s Cuisine

29. Flan Cake (Bolo Pudim) from Pies and Tacos

43. Brazilian Cornmeal Cake (Bolo de Fubá) from Goya

Check out more delish Brazilian recipes here.

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Brazilian Food in the U.S. Is About to Get a Lot More Exciting

For most Americans, Brazilian cuisine usually means feijoada, caipirinha, and steakhouses — the ones with “all the meat you can eat” served by gaucho-style waiters. But this is about to change. In the coming months, two celebrated Brazilian chefs are poised to open restaurants in America’s two largest cities, New York and Los Angeles, bringing with them an ingredient-focused approach to Brazilian food many American diners have yet to experience.

Manoella Buffara, chef of tasting-menu restaurant Manu in Curitiba, Brazil, is putting the final touches on the menu at Ella, her upscale Brazilian restaurant opening in New York City in January. Meanwhile, nationally beloved chef Rodrigo Oliveira is deciding which dishes he intends to take to Los Angeles, where he will open a location of his sought-after São Paulo restaurant Balaio in Hollywood this winter. In the last decade, Brazilian restaurants in the States have been more focused on bringing a taste of home to the Brazilian community living nearly 5,000 miles away than pushing the culinary envelope. But these chefs represent a new moment for Brazilian cuisine in the U.S., and “it couldn’t be a better moment,” says Buffara.

In recent years, Brazil has attracted the attention of the world’s food scene: In 2015, Michelin choose the country to launch the first — and so far only — version of its influential red guide in Latin America, focusing on São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. TV series, such as Netflix’s Chef’s Table and The Final Table, and other media showcase a modern Brazilian cuisine that just isn’t available in the U.S. “I think that today Brazil is beginning to better prepare itself to expose Brazilian ingredients and take the country’s cuisine to other borders,” says Alex Atala, chef of two-Michelin-starred D.O.M. and former Chef’s Table star. He says the arrival of Oliveira and Buffara to the U.S. is proof. “They are two great ambassadors of Brazilian cuisine, with the ability to show other nuances of our cuisine.”

Manouella Buffara in Brazil Henrique Schmeil/Manu

Balaio chef Rodrigo Oliveira Carol Gherardi/Balaio

For decades, churrascarias were the dominant representation of Brazilian food in the U.S. The Brazilian steakhouses swept the country from the 1990s, when chains like Fogo de Chão and Texas de Brazil opened offering rodízio (or all-you-can-eat) dining, a business model that became popular from coast to coast. At the time, these steakhouses were groundbreaking — presenting an essentially Brazilian cuisine to a broad American audience for the first time — and fundamental to setting the stage for the Brazilian restaurant models that came later.

Brazilian-owned, churrasco-focused chain Pampas Grill opened its first location in a Los Angeles farmers market in 2001. The restaurant, now with three locations, focuses on Brazilian barbecue served and priced by the pound, a common restaurant model in Brazil. Pampas catering manager Gabriela Kruschewsky says that back when it opened, there weren’t many Brazilian restaurants in the city. “And there definitely weren’t fast-casual options for those who wanted to eat Brazilian churrasco without walking into an all-you-can-eat establishment,” she says. “Brazilian food in the U.S. was defined by the churrascaria experience.”

In the last few years, Kruschewsky has noticed that customers are more open to trying Brazilian food in a variety of formats. “We see so much newness pop up all the time now,” she says. “Brazilian food in mall food courts, food trucks, or cafes that offer pastries and appetizer-driven selections, not to mention the craze we’re experiencing with acai bowls.”

After the Brazilian steakhouse boom in the 1990s, Brazilian-owned restaurants began to serve hearty cuisine that wasn’t just about cuts of meat on gleaming skewers. These new restaurants offered a more diverse sample of what Brazilians ate at home. When Henrique Stangorlini opened his Brazilian bar and restaurant Beco in Brooklyn in 2009, the comfort foods that shaped his childhood in Brazil were a must, including moqueca (a seafood stew) and, of course, feijoada, the traditional Brazilian stew. “I wanted to create a place with the feeling of being invited to a friend’s home, like it is in all botecos [no-frills, Brazilian bars],” Stangorlini says. “And feijoada has always meant that to me.”

But the restaurants from Oliveira and Buffara are going beyond homey comfort foods to highlight a different kind of Brazilian food: a refined and modern cuisine that prioritizes native ingredients in an attempt to update traditional recipes and techniques. And although there’s nothing like it in the U.S. today, there is precedent for Brazilian fine dining in the States: In 1994, a French-born chef tried to introduce a glimpse of real Brazilian cuisine to New Yorkers. That year, Claude Troisgros, who became a renowned chef in Brazil, opened C.T. Restaurant close to Madison Square Park.

It was, at the time, “one of the most remarkable restaurants” to open in New York City, according to Ruth Reichl’s three-star New York Times review. Although the restaurant was well received by the public and critics, Troisgros sold it in 1996 to focus on projects in Brazil. “I gave myself three years to stay in NYC. When I accomplished my goal, I came back to Brazil,” Troisgros, who is a member of France’s renowned Troisgros family, said to a local Brazilian newspaper at the time.

Now, chefs Buffara and Oliveira are taking up the torch. Oliveira runs two of the most acclaimed restaurants in São Paulo: Mocotó, focused on northeastern Brazilian cuisine (and where every international chef dines when they arrive in the city) and the newer Balaio, where Oliveira serves updated regional dishes from a modern building inside a cultural center on the city’s most important avenue.

Balaio’s cupim de panela with corn couscous and fava beans Carolina Gherardi/Balaio

In LA, Oliveira is partnering with restaurateur Bill Chait to open a branch of Balaio at the upcoming Thompson Hollywood hotel. He plans to make some changes to the concept and menu to make Brazilian cuisine more relatable to the American audience, “but without being caricatured,” he says, adding that other Brazilian restaurants in the U.S. have tried to show Brazilian food only as “ethnic, and exotic, which it’s not.” Like Balaio in Brazil, LA’s Balaio will likely serve a vegetarian moqueca and vegan bobó, as well as Brazilian snacks like coxinhas, pasteis, and Oliveira’s famous dadinhos de tapioca (cubes of tapioca and curd cheese).

At Manu in Curitiba, Buffara explores the rich vegetable biodiversity of Paraná, the state where she put down roots after working in world-renowned restaurants like Noma and Alinea. At her new New York restaurant, Ella, Buffara will merge Brazilian cooking techniques with locally sourced ingredients, showcasing a modern approach to Brazilian fine dining. Among the ingredients that Buffara is likely to present to New Yorkers — and to the crowds of tourists visiting the area around Chelsea Market, where her restaurant will be located — are fermented cassava, pupunha palm heart, and dried mushrooms from Paraná. “I want to show my guests unique techniques and dishes,” she says. “We have much more than feijoada and churrasco to offer.”

The chef says that she was initially hesitant to open a restaurant abroad, but that when New York City entrepreneurs Michael Satsky and Brian Gefter approached her three years ago, she became convinced opening a New York restaurant would be a good opportunity to challenge stereotypes about her country. “There is a lack of knowledge and information from the foreign public about Brazilian cuisine. We have many interesting ingredients and processes that are very little known: Who knows that we produce one of the best oysters in the world or that we have many tasty wild mushrooms?” Buffara says. “For the first time in history, we will have all this rich food of Brazil being served outside the country in proper restaurants.”

The opening of these two restaurants, almost simultaneously, in the two largest cities in the country marks not an isolated shift, but the beginning of a small movement paving the way for other, similar Brazilian restaurants. This is true even in practical ways — both Buffara and Oliveira say that a third wave of Brazilian restaurants may create a new and rich supply of products directly from the country (it becomes easier to import ingredients in a market where demand for them is higher), in turn making it easier to open ingredient-focused Brazilian restaurants.

“It is important to keep in mind that the world’s great kitchens have only gained prominence in other continents by supporting the production of high-quality ingredients and culture,” Atala points out. Oliveira says that as Balaio develops a supply chain, it will focus mainly on dry ingredients, such as Brazilian spices, dried herbs, and various types of flour, which are the basis for many recipes, such as farofas, a very popular side dish in Brazil made with toasted flour.

Victor Vasconcellos, head chef of Balaio, is already living in Los Angeles to run the project and look for suppliers and local ingredients. “My personal goal is to show a farofa as good as we have in Brazil and make Americans love it as we do,” he says. Vasconcellos thinks it won’t be so hard to please the American patrons, especially in Los Angeles and New York, where he believes diners are open to new flavors and used to strong spices, as evidenced by the popularity of Asian and Mexican cuisines in both cities.

But while those cuisines expanded alongside growing immigrant populations, the new Brazilian restaurants aren’t necessarily catering to the more than 1 million Brazilians living in the U.S. — there are already the churrascarias and other venues to remind them of home. Instead, Buffara and Oliveira want to change the perception of Brazilian cuisine for all New Yorkers and Angelenos. “We are looking forward to this new project and eager to show local diners all the richness of our recipes,” says Oliveira, “It will be an important step for our trajectory.” And certainly for that of Brazilian cuisine as a whole, too.

Rafael Tonon is a Brazilian journalist and food writer based in São Paulo.


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Brazilian Style Black Beans and Rice

Many of you know both my husband and I spent about 2 years of our lives living in Brazil when we were in our twenties. We didn’t meet until we were both back in the states attending college at BYU, but that was definitely something that we loved having in common from the very start. I spent most of my time in southern Brazil (Curitiba, to be exact) but afterwards traveled to just about every corner of that beautiful country. Brazil and its different states are just as unique as those here in the United States. When it comes to food, each region has different specialties and customary dishes, but one thing you will eat no matter where you go, is arroz e feijão, aka Rice and Beans.

And just like you’ll find very different BBQ depending on where you travel in the US, you’ll find varying types of rice and beans in Brazil. But it’s something that most of the population eats every day, and I loved it. Where I lived in the south, black beans reign supreme, and the method of cooking them that I’m going to share with you today is how the local people would prepare them day in and day out. The beauty in this dish is the simplicity. It’s not a complicated thing in fact you won’t see any seasonings except for salt and pepper. The flavor comes from these three things: bacon, garlic, and onion.

The other thing that is standard in every Brazilian kitchen is a pressure cooker. Every household has one. I did a whole post about pressure cooking, here. Check it out and see what a great addition a pressure cooker is to your kitchen! I have both a stove-top pressure cooker and an electric pressure cooker, and I use my electric one more these days because I like being able to walk away, whereas I feel I have to babysit the stovetop one. But I’ve linked great options for both in my post, here. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, check out my recipe for Quick and Easy Black Beans it’s a twist on these traditional beans, using canned beans. Just as the name implies, they are so quick and easy! We also have a great slowcooker recipe, which you can find, here.

When it comes to using dry beans, most people like to soak them overnight because it cuts down on cooking time. Soaked beans will cook in a pressure cooker in about 10 minutes or so. The only problem with that is that I generally don’t think that far ahead. I’ve written this recipe for dry beans, straight out of the bag, because that’s how I make them the most often. I also like a thicker “sauce” on my beans, and using dry beans in a pressure cooker causes more splitting of the beans so it naturally thickens and I like that. Using dry beans, this will still be on the table in about an hour.

You’ll want to really carefully go through your beans and remove any impurities. It’s not uncommon to have little shrived beans and even tiny pebbles sometimes. You’ll also want to rinse them well.

One note about my method here- traditionally (at least from every single person that made beans and rice for me) Brazilians cook their beans in water in the pressure cooker and while they’re cooking, they saute the bacon, garlic and onion in a separate pan. When the beans are done, they ladle in a few spoonful into the bacon pan and let it simmer away absorbing flavors, while lightly smashing the beans to thicken the mixture. That entire mixture is then poured back into the bean pot where they finish seasoning and let everything cook up together.

I combine those steps and just start everything in my pressure cooker and cook it all together. Saves dirtying a pan and they always come out great, so I’m going with my rebel methods.

On that note- heat up your pressure cooker to saute and cook a few slices of bacon.

The bacon adds a smoky, meaty flavor and the rendered bacon fat is what we’ll use to cook the onion and garlic. Now let’s have a moment of silence to imagine onion and garlic sauteing in bacon grease. If anyone can create a candle with that smell I’ll buy it.

After that has cooked for a few minutes you’ll add your beans, salt and pepper, and the cooking liquid. Now, in Brazil they generally use water, but I like to use broth because I feel like it enhances the flavor really nicely. I call for vegetable broth here, but you could use chicken or even beef as well. I cook them for 40 minutes on high pressure and then immediately let out the steam after that.

This is a rather thick ratio when it comes to black beans, but that’s how I prefer it. If you’d like your beans “soupier” you can certainly add more liquid after they are done, or cook them with more liquid to start.

If you’d like to eat these in the traditional way, serve over Brazilian Style Rice.

This south American staple has become a staple in my own home and it’s now something my kids love eating as well. And although these are Brazilian black beans, they obviously go very well with other Latin dishes like burritos, fajitas, Southwest salads, etc.

If you want to turn this into a full meal, just pair it with some grilled chicken, beef, or fish. Or one of my favorites is Linguica sausage, which is eaten often in Brazil.

Easiest of all however, is one of my favorite comfort foods: rice and beans topped with a runny fried egg. That might sound strange but trust me, heaven in a bowl.

If you’re interested in more Brazilian food, you can check out a few other recipes, here!