Wielding knives and sword-like skewers, the servers at Texas de Brazil seem prepared for impromptu duels. However, they only brandish the blades to replenish dinner plates, slicing meat from their spears at the behest of each table. The cuts of steak, lamb, and brazilian sausage are all slow roasted over an open flame in traditional churrascaria fashion—a technique that stems from the campfire meals of Brazilian gauchos, and one that fed the family behind Texas de Brazil during their life in Porto Alegre. In an effort to bring the South American style to the States, they established their first restaurant in Texas, thereby merging down-home charm with Brazilian spice.
Today, Texas de Brazil has expanded to several award-winning locations across the country. Despite the lofty ceilings and chandeliers that characterize their venues, the staff remains rooted in ranchers' habits. They conscientiously grill and season their meat, bake brazilian cheese bread in-house, and pass classic cocktails and loaner saddles over the bar for cowboys who consider chairs unnatural. To complement savory bites, guests can browse more than 50 gourmet sides at the salad bar—a compendium of soups, vegetables, and appetizers such as imported cheeses. They can also ask the resident wine specialist for recommendations on suitable pairings from the cellar.
Home of the $1,000,000 Florida Derby and the six-race Sunshine Millions series, the Gulfstream Park's track has hosted live thoroughbred races since 1939. Steeds charge around corners on the main track or the turf course as onlookers track the race from the comfort of the stands, a luxury suite, or a cloud rented from overlooking deities. Beyond concession-stand offerings, the facility invites visitors to grab more substantial fare from one of its onsite restaurants. In addition to the Asian-inspired menu at Christine Lee's, diners can visit Ten Palms at Gulfstream Park and sample the contemporary American fare of celebrity chef Ralph Pagano, a former competitor on Iron Chef America and host of Pressure Cook on the National Geographic Channel.
Outside of the racing facility, Gulfstream Park includes a casino with more than 850 slot machines, electric table games, and high-stakes poker tables spread across two floors. At the nearby The Village at Gulfstream Park, visitors can wander through boutique fashion and home-decor stores, including Next and Williams-Sonoma, while searching for the park's fabled hide-and-seek world champion.
At Siam Oishi, Bangkok native Poompaka "Pio" Komolvasri plates sushi, japanese noodles, and traditional Thai cuisine using skills she honed at Le Cordon Bleu in Miami. Handmade dishes imported from Thailand enhance her already artful presentation of sushi, which range from hand rolls to larger 10-piece maki.
From the Vienna Beef signs on its stone façade to the hot dogs simmering in the steamer, Fat Lou’s throws down authentic food for those craving Windy City style with its jam-packed menu. The all-beef hot dog ($3.25) comes dressed Chicago-style, with mainstays such as relish, sport peppers, and onions shaped like Oprah filling out a steamed poppy-seed-flecked bun. The italian beef ($7.50) offers a zesty alternative, as thin-sliced, marinated roast beef fraternizes with a blend of peppers and giardiniera that that whirls together a tongue-tempting blend of sweetness and spice. Get Greek bites with a gyro sandwich loaded with sliced lamb and tzatziki sauce ($7.50), or wash down dinners with the help of a freshly scooped root-beer float ($3.75)
The Cheese Course pampers dairy devotees with more than 150 artisanal cheeses, plus a thoughtfully constructed menu of delectable comestibles. Regional trios of cheeses ($12.95) allow connoisseurs to expand their palates without undergoing primordial tongue stretching. Nibble your way through a patriotic mélange of American cheeses that includes Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog goat cheese (CA), Old Chatham camembert (NY), and Pleasant Ridge Reserve (WI), or snack on a Franco-centric sampling of Sainte-Maure, camembert, and comté. Each trio comes with accoutrements such as sliced baguettes and sundried tomato pesto, but more substantial hungers can also be halted with the help of an array of sandwiches, such as an albacore white tuna melt with gruyere ($8.45), or with the greeneried goodness of a salad, such as English field greens with blue cheese, caramelized walnuts, and mustard-shallot vinaigrette ($7.95). Breakfast items, such as herb omelette baguettes ($8.45) and homemade quiche ($8.45), are served morning, noon, and night, creating a dangerous paradox of logic in which every meal is the most important of the day.
Caffe Martier's menu yokes together gourmet salads, sandwiches, and Mediterranean fare served in a café with the élan of European-bistro sophistication. Salmon, cream cheese, and sun-dried tomatoes adorn the cod salmon pizza starter's whole-wheat flat bread base before being drizzled with pesto, and the greek bruschetta's feta, kalamata olives, and diced tomatoes play Twister atop foccacio bread. Graze the greenery of the roasted pepper-topped arugula-endive salad or opt for a spinach salad with figs and feta, sprinkled with toasted pecans and roasted peppers before being doused in a spicy lime dressing. Chefs assemble sandwiches and wraps using only kosher meats, and each arrives with an edible sidekick of organic mesclun and chickpea salad.