Fernando's menus showcase South American ingredients and flavors amid an elegant supper club atmosphere, where weekends herald live music and dance-floor tours. An appetizer sampler ($7 for one, $12 for two) relieves decision-making anxiety with a bundle of favorites: golden-fried battered shrimp, shredded yucca crab cake with black bean sauce, and ceviche de pescado (diced marinated snapper, onions, tomatoes, and cilantro lime). Make good on your promise to eat the entire ocean with Fernando's classic seafood paella (saffron rice, clams, mussels, scallops, shrimp, fish, crawfish, calamari, chicken, and Spanish chorizo, $28), or dress your plate in a juicy steak Hickl, 12 ounces of char-grilled marinated rib eye served with mashed potato and asparagus ($28). For carb-fueled feeding, experience the signature mind-meld of European and American cuisine exemplified in the pasta Fernando's, which graces angel-hair pasta with tomatoes, black beans, garlic, basil, cilantro, and grilled chicken breast ($12.50).
After 15 years in the pizza business, Chef Ronaldo Gomes opened Copacabana Pizzeria, with a menu that melds Brazilian flavors with casual American standards. His Brazilian-style pizzas come covered with a melted layer of catupiry cheese, a Brazilian favorite, as well as Latin-style ingredients ranging from hearts of palm to calabresa sausage or pepperoni, mushrooms, and other classic ingredients. Their Brazilian Monster Burgers offer a three-dimensional alternative to flat pizza planes. These towering sandwiches are stacked high with grilled chicken, sirloin steak, corn, peas, potato sticks, and other ingredients that barely fit between a warm bun. Mangos, guava, and other tropical fruit blend together to form caipirinhas and other Brazilian-style drinks perfectly suited to lubricating both conversations and the most righteous Slip-and-Slides.
A swanky ambiance defined by an elegant decor, including stained-oak mouldings and maroon drapes, complements the high-caliber steakhouse cuisine served at Post Oak Grill. The Houston bistro has been around for 23 years, so it just got out of college. The restaurant’s chef, Polo Becerra, pairs bold flavors in starters such as duck-confit crepes with blackberry sauce and melted gorgonzola. For a main course, he might grill Gulf Coast red snapper or cook a center-cut steak and augment its juiciness by adding a port-wine-and-fig reduction. Chef Becerra and his team can even bring their culinary services to homes and offices with their catering.
At a jade-green bar, servers pour a long list of international wines. Nearby, a pianist tickles the ivories during happy hour. On Thursday–Saturday evening, musicians perform classic songs or melodic readings of the newspaper fine-arts section.
The tempting and decidedly not-fast-food aromas of sizzling gaucho-style meats, mozzarella, and Brazilian catupiry cheese emanate from Friend’s Pizzeria’s brick oven. The pizzeria’s chefs deftly combine Italian and Brazilian influences with a menu of more than 20 gourmet pizzas. In addition to traditional pies, Friend’s whips up its specialty fusion pizzas, which blend Latin American flavors such as shrimp, green olives, or tangy and soft catupiry cheese. Towering Brazilian Monster burgers challenge diners and tightly fastened bow ties to accommodate their hefty portions of sirloin steak, potato skins, and eggs. After placing orders at a walk-up counter, diners nosh in a dining room festooned with Brazilian- and Italian-flag prints, line drawings of city scenes, and patriotic green and yellow walls.
An air of mystery, scented with garlic and herbs, fills Fuad's Restaurant, where head chef Joseph conjures recipes that are never listed on a menu. Instead, diners simply request the dishes they desire, such as Fuad's house specialties of lamb and duck, or recipes such as stuffed chicken breasts and fish fillets topped with crabmeat. Beneath twinkling chandeliers, Brenda, the head bartender, shakes cocktails or plumbs the vast wine cellar for bottles to match any entrée or diner's outfit—so long as that outfit is red, white, or aged in a barrel.