You'll never feel more like a Brazilian cowboy than the moment you take your seat at Copacabana Steakhouse. As you tuck in, fork and knife in hand, waiters pass by carrying 14 different styles of slow-roasted meat still sizzling on their skewers. Upon your signal, they shave portions of top sirloin, Brazilian sausage, leg of lamb, and barbecue chicken straight onto your plate. This meat parade, or rodizio, mimics the communal feasts of the 20th-century gauchos who settled in the grasslands of Southern Brazil with their massive herds of Carnival parade floats. As they eat, diners sip bold South American red wines that complement the flavors of the steak. For guests who aren't looking for an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord, the churrascaria also serves single portions of its meats paired with hearts of palm and fresh veggies from the salad bar.
Brazilian native Ivan Utrera came to the United States with a stack of family recipes and an idea for serving bottomless portions of rotisserie-grilled meats. That style of eating, similar to that in a churrascaria, has been popular in Brazil for many years. Rodizio Grill has since expanded to several locations, where servers armed with giant skewers of marinated pork loin and beef saturated in garlic travel around the dining room, carving off the meat tableside. The chefs also slow-cook on the grill and expertly season Brazilian sausages, lamb, chicken hearts, and pineapples. Much like a list of terrible babysitters, the selection of adventurous meats often includes rattlesnake, bison, and wild boar.
In Carioca Grill's open kitchen, skewers of sirloin, sausage, and short ribs roast in the fiery churrasco. Steam rises from a nearby buffet, forming stratus clouds above hot dishes including fried yucca and shrimp stew. At the back of the dining area, a cashier weighs fare by the pound after taking off its shoes. Though the restaurant has a minimalist, casual vibe, its food brims with complex flavors and tropical ingredients prevalent in Brazilian cooking.
The chefs’ mission at Favela Grill is more challenging than it may seem: take simple ingredients and transform them into the flavorful bites that characterize Brazilian cuisine. To attain this goal, they have spent years playing with combinations that achieve surprising harmony, such as grilled, marinated salmon with a passionfruit reduction and shrimp sautéed in palm oil and flavored with coconut milk. But according to Time Out New York, “it’s the beef that lures the crowd,” be it served carpaccio style with capers and shredded parmesan or in the Costela Bam-Bam, a signature entree comprising slow-roasted Prime beef ribs served over cassava. In the kitchen, top sirloin, skirt steak, and sausages rotate on spits before being served churrasco style in the romantically lit dining room. While surrounded by colorful paintings, exposed-brick walls, and three-dimensional artwork, diners pair their seafood stews and grilled chicken with Brazil’s national cocktail—the caipirinha—or wines from France, Italy, California, Argentina, Chile, and, of course, Brazil. On Fridays and Saturdays, the sound of live Latin-style guitar permeates the room for a bit of authentic flair.
Seen from afar, the food crossing the counter at New York Pão de Queijo might convince you that the bright, tiny storefront is a typical burger-and-shake shack. It's the details that tell you something else is going on—namely, Brazil's wildly creative, colorful take on the American burger and its accessories.
More than 10 beef, veggie, and turkey patties come gussied up with a kitchen sink's worth of fixings, including corn, potato sticks, sausage, house-made Brazilian cheese, banana, and pineapple. Smoothies attempt to balance out the towering feats of indulgence with nutrient-dense combos of papaya, passion fruit, peach, açai, and oats. The kitchen's commitment to snackery is also evident in the signature pão de queijo, a yuca-based bread puff filled with deliquescent cheese. Among other treats, The Daily Meal has praised its traditional bauru ham sandwich and its "great quick snacks" that can easily be downed while playing a typical soccer match.
Boulder Creek Steakhouse’s dinner menu serves up deluxe cuts of steak with all the trimmings in a casual atmosphere. Starting with grain-fed meat aged a minimum of 28 days, each sirloin ($17.99), filet mignon ($28.99 for 12 oz./$23.99 for 8 oz.), and beyond is grilled to red-hot perfection and seasoned with a double-secret blend of spices. If you already had steak for lunch, breakfast, and your coworker’s office birthday party, savor the chicken parmesan ($15.99) or the jumbo shrimp scampi ($15.99) instead. Vegetarians, meanwhile, can abide by the terms of their uneasy peace treaty with cows by noshing on a garden fresh salad drizzled with homemade dressing ($4.99–$14.99). Keep a couple stomachs open for the brownie sundae ($5.99), the warm apple tart served over ice cream ($5.99), or both stacked on top of each other. Lighter lunchtime appetites will find that the turkey burger ($10.99), pulled-pork sammie ($11.99), and grilled chicken wrap ($10.99) are all created equal and thus enjoy equal rights to a side dish of onion rings or creamed spinach.