You could argue that every meal at Gaucho's Village includes live entertainment—servers are constantly visiting tables with humongous skewers of meat and slicing off choice pieces with a sword-like knife. To summon such a show to your table, all you need to do is turn a small marker over to display its green side, or turn your "Bring on the Meat" t-shirt right-side out. Then, you select from an array of flame-roasted cuts, ranging from the traditional picanha, or sirloin cap, to tri-tip and filet mignon wrapped in bacon. The blazing churrasco fires backstage also cook lamb, pork, and sausage, and the menu suggests a proper wine pairing for each cut.
Though these meats have been featured on the Travel Channel's Tastiest Places to Chow Down, they aren't the only impressive spectacle at the restaurant. The real show occurs on weekends, when samba dancers and DJs rev up the always-festive atmosphere. Guests who would rather kick back than shimmy along can visit the attached lounge. There, a separate lounge menu boasts empanadas and coxinha—fried balls of chicken and cheese—as well as flavored hookah on a back patio fenced with live bamboo.
In keeping with the 300-year-old Brazilian tradition of slowly roasting skewered meats over an open flame, Picanha Churrascaria overwhelms diners' appetites with never-ending servings of 15 different proteins. Throughout each meal, servers approach tables with long, sword-like skewers of top sirloin, garlic chicken, and leg of lamb, then slice freshly grilled portions directly onto plates until guests signal them to stop. Between platefuls, diners can visit the restaurant's buffet, which features more than 40 salad fixings, a spread of traditional Brazilian side dishes, and cutthroat guards that see to it that no one scoops with their hands.
There are more than 70,000 songs on the karaoke machine at Michael's Bar & Grill, so it goes without saying that the restaurant embraces variety. A glance at the menu cements this fact: Cajun specialties share page space with pub appetizers, burgers, and an Italian addendum, full of hand-tossed pizzas and pasta dishes. It's an eclectic list with diverse ingredients—alligator and crawfish among them—but each option is served until midnight every day.
True Louisiana culinary classics include etouffee, blackened catfish, and jambalaya, as well as sweet, sugar-topped beignets. Southern influence is seen in the sandwich selection as well, where tuna melts can be had alongside po' boys. Luckily, nightly entertainment gives guests an excuse to sample the distinctive eats while filling their eyes and ears—there's stand-up comedy on Tuesdays, trivia on Wednesdays, and karaoke on most other nights. The staff also makes a point to broadcast pro football games on their big-screen TVs, rather than just yelling the score every five minutes.
North of Franklin Avenue, on Hillhurst’s lively and tony little restaurant strip, Tropicalia Brazilian Grill is cozy and casual, offering Brazilian dishes, a fine selection of grilled meats and fish. The airy front dining room, bathed in rich shades of gold and avocado and accented with potted palms, utilizes tall windows to look out onto the street. Los Feliz locals frequent the back bar room, which sports worn brick and a wall of packed wine racks; a long (often crowded) wood bar beneath a big chalkboard lists dozens of wines by the glass in a wide price range, and the house-made sangria is popular. Classic Brazilian fare includes traditional favorites like black bean soup, ceviche, fajitas and feijoada – the Brazilian national dish. The menu also offers plentiful choices of grilled beef, chicken and fish, alongside other specialties like braised short ribs and ossobuco.
Servers hoisting skewers circulate continuously through Samba Brazilian Steakhouse, pausing tableside to carve mesquite-grilled morsels of brazilian sausage, bacon-wrapped chicken, and sirloin steak. Clusters of mod white couches stand out against glowing orange walls, which contain plenty of nooks for groups to squeeze into. Brunch hours offer a consortium of all-you-can-eat meats such as marinated beef and pork. The main course is complemented by unlimited trips to the salad- and Brazilian side dish-buffet, as well as your choice of mimosa, champagne, and sangria. At night, a chorus of smooth-limbed showgirls catalyzes the party with a slight assist from the caipirinha bar's more than 20 versions of Brazil's national cocktail.
If you had been lucky enough to get into Musso and Frank Grill’s Back Room back in the 1930s, you might have seen William Faulkner mixing a mint julep. Because the restaurant was across the street from the Screen Writers Guild, its Back Room became a discreet hangout for some of America's greatest authors, including Fitzgerald and Steinbeck (and later Bukowski and Vonnegut). Faulkner was such a regular that the bartenders just started letting him step behind the bar to mix his own drinks. At one point, the Los Angeles Times celebrated the Back Room’s reputation by saying that if you'd sat there long enough you “would have seen every living writer you had ever heard of, and some you would not know until later.” Musso’s has been a Hollywood landmark since 1919—it's older, in fact, than the Hollywood sign—and in nearly 100 years of business, not much has changed. The restaurant is in its third generation of family ownership. And due to an impossibly labyrinthine kitchen, it has only seen three executive chefs. The current chef, J.P. Amateau, oversees a classic menu with dishes such as grilled lamb kidneys (allegedly Chaplin’s favorite) and flannel cakes, a thinner, sweeter version of the pancake often ordered by Greta Garbo and Gary Cooper. Perhaps the only major difference is that the Back Room is no longer there, though its bar and furniture can still be seen in the New Room. Musso's—a member of the Distinguished Restaurants of North America and a featured destination in the book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die—has a staff nearly as renowned as its clientele. One of its servers, Louie, has been there since 1957, and another, Ruben, was once given an autographed Gibson by regular guest Keith Richards. Manny, who has been behind the bar for nearly 25 years, purportedly makes the country’s best martini. When ranking Musso’s as one of the Best Bars in America, Esquire said the martini was one that “Bogart would’ve judged worthy of the name.” One can only wonder how it would have stacked up against one of Faulkner’s juleps.