Brazilian churrascarias—a kind of Portuguese barbeque joint—have their roots in traditional celebrations of a successful harvest. At modern churrascarias, waiters walk around with skewers or roasted meat, cutting off all-you-can-eat portions of steak, pork, and chicken directly onto your plate. Diners interested in rounding out a years' worth of protein can find endless accompaniments at the salad bar and buffet of Brazilian hot dishes or try traditional drinks such as caipirinha or guarana, a Brazilian soda.
Skewered cuts of sirloin, brazilian sausage, and pork ribs rotate slowly over a sweltering grill, their savory juices producing a rhythmic hiss as each drop hits the metal. This is churrasco, Xodó Grill's specialty. Once the traditional Brazilian barbecue has roasted to a tender finish, the staff slices off juicy morsels for customers to pair with 12 types of salads and a slate of hot dishes from the colorful buffet. Heaping plates of fried yucca, picanha, and cheese bread await the scales, which customers use to pay by the pound and Lady Justice uses to smuggle extra cuts of steak.
Gol Brazilian Restaurant's cooks prepare top sirloin, bacon-wrapped pork, chicken hearts, and other meats in the traditional gaucho style—by skewering them onto metal rods and slow-roasting them over charcoal. Besides the succulent churrasco selections, a buffet of fresh, flavorful salads and hot dishes such as spaghetti carbonara and croquettes round out the menu. Patrons can sip fresh fruit juices, beer, or wine and finish meals with creamy flan and other desserts while observing the footwork of Brazilian soccer teams on the flat-screen TV.
Brazilian Steak House | Award-Winning Churrasco | Hot-Food Buffet | Caipirinha Cocktails | Fixed-Price Menu
How it Works: During this all-you-can-eat fine-dining experience, customers are first seated at tables bedecked with white linens. Then, a server parades out a selection of 16 churrascaria meats, carving off a portion of skewered beef, lamb, pork, or chicken. A two-sided, colored coaster—green for "keep it coming," red for "I'm stuffed"—lets the staff know if you'd like seconds or thirds. Diners can also help themselves to the buffet of salad fixings and side dishes.
Inside Tip: Vegetarians can skip out on the meat and pay a reduced price for the salad and sides buffets. The extensive salad bar is filled with traditional choices as well as tabbouleh and pickled shiitake, and the hot side dishes include a "mashed potato so smooth it could pass for crème fraîche," according to OC Weekly.
Caipirinha: a Brazilian cocktail made with the sugarcane-based spirit cachaça and lime juice
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Amazon Churrascaria BBQ Buffet (1445 S. Lemon Street, Fullerton), more casual—but no less authentic—spot for Brazilian cuisine according to the Los Angeles Times.
A true gastropub, The Pub at Chino Hills sits at the intersection of friendly watering hole and upscale restaurant. A crowd often forms around its wooden bar, where the staff pours 20 draft brews and well over that number in bottles and cans?including European-style dark ales. Flat-screen TVs give other patrons something to look at between sips of craft cocktails and wines from around the world. And on special nights, a musician might even show up to perform and then disappear into a puff of rum-scented smoke.
As for food, co-owners and chefs Andrew Faour and Mathew Carpenter rely on ingredients including USDA Prime meat, market-fresh fish, and cheese sourced from around the world. With those edible tools, they create lunch and dinner menus that start with small plates such as fried pork-belly bites. From there, the tour de taste can move on to meatloaf and steak entrees, or perhaps burgers with house-made pickles and patties that can take the form of beef, buffalo, or salmon. There's just one thing missing to complete the meal: one of the pub's signature desserts, such as gelato or homemade cookies.
McKinley’s Grille serves sophisticated lunch and dinner menus of seasonal eats concocted with organic fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Investigate the wine list and sip a glass of Mirassou chardonnay ($6.50) or Little Black Dress cabernet sauvignon, which is served to you by a little black cat ($6.50). For an entree, select a grilled 10-ounce New York strip steak cloaked in caramelized Maui onion and soft raclette cheese ($26) or opt for the braised beef flat-iron noodle soup, which is accompanied to the table by ginger and Asian greens ($19). Pair your palate-pleasing meal with a savory side, such as sweet potato fries, asiago cheese bread, beer-battered onion rings, garlic mashed potatoes, or farm-fresh vegetables ($4).