When night falls over southern Brazil, groups of gauchos gather around flickering fire pits and celebrate the end of another day by slowly grilling meat over the open flames. Novilhos Brazilian Steakhouse aims to capture the spirit of these traditional meals by hosting all-you-can-eat churrasco feasts that Zagat scored as "very good to excellent."
The chefs roast up more than a dozen cuts of meat, including filet mignon, bacon-wrapped chicken, lamb chops, and pork sausages. Servers dressed as gauchos parade these freshly grilled skewers throughout the dining room, stopping at diners' seats and offering to carve them slices tableside. In between these protein-laden servings, guests can visit the salad bar and load their plates up with more than 60 different side dishes, such as fresh-cut vegetables and imported cheeses.
Tempero do Brasil transports diners' taste buds to the northeastern state of Bahia and beyond with a menu of authentic Brazilian fare. Feijoada, a savory black bean stew and the national dish of the Portuguese-speaking republic ($17), swims with ham hocks, sausages, and beef and arrives with an entourage of rice, sautéed collard greens, and orange slices. In the traditional moqueca de camaräo ($18) expertly trained prawns and vegetables perform a smoldering samba amid coconut milk, lime juice, and palm oil and the festa ($15) loads sautéed mushrooms and parmesan cheese into a baked-squash boat and sends it sailing into tomato-sauce seas. Seal the meal with a dose of caramel-flan dessert ($5) trained in the art of capoeira. Tempero do Brasil showcases live Brazilian music Saturday nights, filling the air with the distinctly South American sounds of the bossa nova and the glockenspiel.
21 Central Steakhouse's extensive menu centers largely on its specialties: USDA prime corn-fed beef and fresh-caught seafood. The posh steakhouse's steaks are all seared in a 1,800-degree broiler, creating a deeply flavored external char that houses the juicy, broiled-to-order interior—similar to the one that houses Wile E. Coyote after an ACME bomb malfunction. After starting with a plate of baked goat cheese ($9.95) over tomatoes Provençal with chive oil and balsamic vinaigrette, boost your vitamin B12 intake with a 10-ounce center-cut filet mignon ($42.95) or a 20-ounce porterhouse ($46.95) and add a side of creamed spinach ($8) for color. You can also enhance your steak by dousing it with a coat of 21's brandy chanterelle sauce ($5), caramelized balsamic onions ($4), and more.
Although it can't grant the power of flight or x-ray vision, açaí is still considered something of a super food. The fruit comes directly from the Brazilian rainforest and delivers loads of antioxidants, healthy omegas, and fiber to anyone who consumes it or sticks it into their ears. At Kitanda, açaí is just one of the many organic ingredients featured in a menu of healthy eats. The family-owned shop specializes in a wide range Brazilian snacks and drinks, including gluten-free breads and gourmet coffee brewed from 100-percent Brazilian beans.
As the tango dancers that perform inside Buenos Aires Grill strut and twirl, they enact a wide range of dance influences—traditional polka, Cuban habanera, candombe rhythms from Africa—that reflect the same melting-pot culture that shaped the country’s food and, thus, the restaurant’s menu. Authentic asado—or grilled beef—cooks over a mesquite charcoal fire to ensure that fillets, rib eyes, skirt steaks, and porterhouses retain their natural juices. Chefs also stuff ravioli with ricotta cheese and crown angel-hair pasta with Pacific prawns, an option that most guests prefer to gnawing on a halo. Diners pair their entrees with pours from an extensive wine list that includes options from Argentina as well as France, Chile, Portugal, Spain, and California.
Manhattan's eccentric interior resembles a Victorian hunting lodge at first blush—but then it becomes apparent that the horns on the mounted ram's head transform into golden machine guns. This twisted taxidermy is actually a sculpture by Peter Gronquist, and it's one of several pieces of dining-room decor that demand a double take. What appear to be floral patterns on the wallpaper are actually baroque deer skulls, and the vintage photograph inside the north wall's gold frame is constantly changing, displayed by a projector. Even the bar holds curiosities behind its cowhide panels: it was once an apothecary's shelf, used for arranging remedies at a time when whiskey was thought to cure headaches and long boat rides were prescribed to treat scurvy.
In this Wonderland-like setting, the aromas of steak and contemporary comfort food permeate the airspace. Staples such as mac ‘n’ cheese receive Southern upgrades, with bites of pork belly folded into the creamy pasta and small plates of fried green tomatoes arriving with housemade tartar sauce. As evening rolls around, dinner entrees pile seared sea scallops over cheese grits and pair grilled pork tenderloin with red-eye gravy and mashed potatoes. Lavish dishes have been enjoyed by Bill Gates and other figures of affluence, according to The Daily Meal, which is why Manhattan is one the restaurants featured in Where Billionaires Eat.