A churrascaria is a Brazilian or Portuguese steakhouse, the term being derived from the Portuguese word Churrasco which can be roughly translated as “”barbecue”. Typically , the food at such restaurants is served “ rodizio” style , which means that at several times during the meal various grilled meats on skewers are brought to the table by servers who then slice of portions to order with a large knife. Customers are given tongs to pull away the meat strips as they are sliced off. The assortment of meats includes spicy Iberian pork sausages , chicken , duck, sirloin steak, filet mignon wrapped in bacon , skirt steak , beef ribs , pork ribs , roast beef and lamb. Diners are provided with a colored card , red on one side and green on the other. Those who want more meat keep the green side up ; if they want a temporary respite or if they’re done they flip the card so that the red side is up.
The prix fixe meal includes unlimited visits to the salad bar as well as plates of sides such as fried sweet plantains ,collard greens , broccoli, fried potatoes , fried polenta batons and cheese bread. As can be imagined , there is a surfeit of food and the wise diner formulates a strategy before he ever sets foot in a churrascaria. Otherwise , he may find himself overwhelmed by the quantity of food , particularly of the meats . One such unfortunate was heard to mutter as he exited the churrascaria , “ I went in a carnivore ; I’m leaving as a vegetarian. ” It can be too too much !
As one who has been to a churrascaria several times , I’ve come up with a strategy that has served me well. Here are the main points :
1. Churrascarias are expensive ( often running to $ 100 / person if drinks , tax and tip are included) and diners often set out to get their money’s worth by stuffing themselves way beyond the point of satiety. They wind up gorging on the meat and paying for it later ; dining out should be fun but it isn’t if you are feeling like a sausage yourself.
2. Eat smart . Limit yourself to one visit to the salad bar and don’t load your plate . Walk around the bar once to see just what is on offer and be very selective . Take small quantities of what you are interested in or have not tasted before. Stay away from cheeses, soups and rice dishes ( too filling ) and from tossed salads ( you’ve had them before hundreds of times , so what’s the point ?). The same goes for the side dishes you are served . Yes to fried polenta; no to cheese bread and steamed broccoli.
When it comes to drinks , I limit myself to one beer, no more. I find that some of the food is salty ; beer is a good thirst quencher.
3. The meats are brought to the table in a certain order , the cheaper cuts first and the more expensive ones later. Thus the first skewer brought to the table will usually be sausage closely followed by chicken . The sirloin and the filet mignon and the skirt steak come later. Pace yourself and try everything . What I usually do is to share each serving with my wife or another diner. We green card alternate courses and split the servings between us. This way we are able to try all the different meats and still have some appetite left for the desserts.If a particular cut is very tasty , we take a second helping later and , yes , we share it too.
By the way , desserts are usually unexceptional and we always split them too.
So there it is … my personal technique for making the most of your churrascaria experience . I hope it ‘s useful. Bon Appetit !