The staff at Tropical Café patrol the restaurant’s perimeter constantly, spears in hand. They’re not on guard duty, though. Rather, they’re servers, carving off portions of freshly roasted Brazilian barbecue. They stop at every table, offering their savory cargo to diners who have flipped their personal dining card green side up, indicating that they might be in danger of consuming plant matter from the extensive salad bar if more meat does not arrive soon.
The taste of culture doesn’t stop at the barbecue, however. Tropical Café fills weekends with live musical performances of South American and Brazilian folk music. Wednesday evenings are devoted to karaoke, the classic contest made more interesting by participants who sing with mouthfuls of meat.
Servers wind between tables at Spettu's Steakhouse, brandishing skewers of 14 different cuts of spit-roasted rodizio meats. Upon request, they stop tableside and carve slices of boneless pork loin, top sirloin, and marinara lamb directly onto diners' plates, unleashing the aromas of traditional Brazilian Churrascaria rotisserie. Between servings of regular or Halal cuts of meat, patrons can make unlimited visits to a buffet loaded with 40 different salads, meats, and rice dishes. Overhead, a panoramic photo of Rio de Janeiro unfurls placid blue seas as parrot figurines keep watch over the buffet's cracker supply.
“Basta, basta!” The words may as well be a mantra at Midwest Grill. The term, meaning “enough” in Portuguese, is the perfect finish to the churrascaria’s all-you-can-eat cavalcade of grilled meats and hearty seafood dishes. Passadores—the Brazilian word for waiters—rotate around tables, slicing fresh-grilled skewers of beef sirloin, Brazilian-style ribs, and succulent lamb and pork loin on to plates at the feaster’s demand. This dining style is known as rodízio, and it doesn't just apply to churrasco meats; patrons can also opt for seafood options, such as Brazilian fish stew and sautéed shrimp, or engage a server in a duel with a carving fork. The all-you-can-eat meal is served at a fixed price at both lunch and dinner, and includes unlimited helpings from the salad bar and hot-food buffet. Each of Midwest Grill's locations also houses a TV-lined bar, where mixologists concoct cocktails and pop open bottles of Brazilian beer and wine.
At each of Oliveira's Steakhouse four locations, the crackling sizzle of roasting meat ring’s out like a starter’s pistol, signaling the beginning of Brazilian-style churrasco feasts. Weaving between tables, servers garbed in black shirts and scarlet neckerchiefs trot out flame-kissed chicken, pork, sausage, and rodízio steak presented upon a meat-laden short sword suitable for speedy delivery or elevating a busboy to knighthood. A salad bar supplements meaty mouthfuls with plates of leafy greens, rice, beans, and sauce-laden noodles.
Fred & Steve’s Steakhouse schools appetites with a menu of succulent meat and fine oceanic fare. Enter the eatery’s two private dining rooms, and nosh on nautical morsels of chilled jumbo shrimp paired with treasure troves of black pepper cocktail sauce ($14). Beef tailors fit appetites around slabs of traditional prime rib ($30 for a regular cut), petit filet ($36), and new york sirloin ($38), saucing and styling them in rare form, upon request. Scope undersea selections of fresh Atlantic salmon ($28) or seared ahi tuna ($28) before spearing side dishes of lobster mac 'n' cheese ($14) and piles of red-skinned mashed potatoes ($7).
Beyond a slender art deco "3" glowing above a trellis-flanked front door, chefs put a modern and inventive spin on classic American cuisine. Thai, Caribbean, and Mexican flavors exert influence upon savory small plates and hearty entrees such as fried pickles, champagne-glazed salon, and pecan-crusted chicken. Soft, golden light sets sleek banquettes and dark wooden furniture aglow in the spacious main dining room, and warm weather heralds al fresco dining on 3's sunlit patio. Two stately private rooms host events from business luncheons to wedding receptions, for which 3's team of soiree swamis design custom menus, arrange decorations, and prevent DJs from only playing rockabilly.