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.
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.
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.
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.
Vintage bicycle-themed artwork and patches of exposed brick add a certain cozy charm to Zebú Grill’s dining room, where the chefs serve everything from housemade Brazilian sausage to flan. Tropical ingredients accent most of the food and drinks—shrimp braises in coconut milk, wild salmon wears a coat of açaí sauce, and caipirinha cocktails made from Leblon cachaça muddle fresh lime and sugar.
Two of the eatery’s signature dishes include a churrasco platter with steak, chicken, sausage, rice, and beans, and Brazil’s national dish, feijoada: a black-bean stew with sausage, pork, and beef. For less-meaty dishes, the chefs also hollow out acorn squash, carve a hungry face into its surface, and fill it with seasonal veggies.
Just as the surrounding Theater District transports audiences to faraway places, Brazil Grill's dining room immerses guests in the rich culinary traditions of Brazil. Though it boasts a substantial selection of entrees, the eatery's specialty is radizio, a traditional Brazilian dining style where passadores, or meat servers, present diners with an endless rotation of skewered morsels. Patrons can nosh to their hearts' content on beef, pork, lamb, duck, and the other meats that continually appear tableside during the course of the night. To complement the authentic dishes, servers can also recommend options from the restaurant's selection of wines culled from Chile, Italy, and New Zealand. Most nights, guests eat as they absorb the sounds of live Brazilian music, the play-by-play of Brazilian League soccer matches, or napkins practicing their Portuguese accents.