The staff at Tropical Café patrol the restaurant’s perimeter constantly, spears in hand. They’re not on guard duty, though. Rather, they’re servers, carving off portions of freshly roasted Brazilian barbecue. They stop at every table, offering their savory cargo to diners who have flipped their personal dining card green side up, indicating that they might be in danger of consuming plant matter from the extensive salad bar if more meat does not arrive soon.
The taste of culture doesn’t stop at the barbecue, however. Tropical Café fills weekends with live musical performances of South American and Brazilian folk music. Wednesday evenings are devoted to karaoke, the classic contest made more interesting by participants who sing with mouthfuls of meat.
“Basta, basta!” The words may as well be a mantra at Midwest Grill. The term, meaning “enough” in Portuguese, is the perfect finish to the churrascaria’s all-you-can-eat cavalcade of grilled meats and hearty seafood dishes. Passadores—the Brazilian word for waiters—rotate around tables, slicing fresh-grilled skewers of beef sirloin, Brazilian-style ribs, and succulent lamb and pork loin on to plates at the feaster’s demand. This dining style is known as rodízio, and it doesn't just apply to churrasco meats; patrons can also opt for seafood options, such as Brazilian fish stew and sautéed shrimp, or engage a server in a duel with a carving fork. The all-you-can-eat meal is served at a fixed price at both lunch and dinner, and includes unlimited helpings from the salad bar and hot-food buffet. Each of Midwest Grill's locations also houses a TV-lined bar, where mixologists concoct cocktails and pop open bottles of Brazilian beer and wine.
At each of Oliveira's Steakhouse four locations, the crackling sizzle of roasting meat ring’s out like a starter’s pistol, signaling the beginning of Brazilian-style churrasco feasts. Weaving between tables, servers garbed in black shirts and scarlet neckerchiefs trot out flame-kissed chicken, pork, sausage, and rodízio steak presented upon a meat-laden short sword suitable for speedy delivery or elevating a busboy to knighthood. A salad bar supplements meaty mouthfuls with plates of leafy greens, rice, beans, and sauce-laden noodles.
At Oasis Brazilian Restaurant, family and friends can enjoy authentic Brazilian dishes around tables topped with checkerboard cloths in a relaxed setting. Brazilian-style barbecue and specialty steaks sizzle on long spears over open flames, and a spread of seafood and vegetarian dishes showcase other South American flavors. Peach custard, coconut flan, and rice pudding help finish off hearty meals and spontaneous food fights on a sweet note.
Spices from West Africa and steaks from Portugal unite at Bossa Nova Steakhouse, where chefs celebrate Brazilian cuisine’s variegated influences with colorful buffets and 15 kinds of meat. Diners can signal roving waiters to sidle up to tables and slice off choice cuts from swords bearing top sirloin, pork sausage, or chicken wrapped in bacon. Occasional live music lends a festive air to the dining room, whose colorful posters evoke the grandeur of the soaring mountains and cerulean harbors of Brazil. In another corner, diners savor their meaty feasts beneath a colorful wall of old bossa nova records which, with an ear placed against them, curiously sound like late-century hip-hop.