Skewered cuts of sirloin, brazilian sausage, and pork ribs rotate slowly over a sweltering grill, their savory juices producing a rhythmic hiss as each drop hits the metal. This is churrasco, Xodó Grill's specialty. Once the traditional Brazilian barbecue has roasted to a tender finish, the staff slices off juicy morsels for customers to pair with 12 types of salads and a slate of hot dishes from the colorful buffet. Heaping plates of fried yucca, picanha, and cheese bread await the scales, which customers use to pay by the pound and Lady Justice uses to smuggle extra cuts of steak.
Brazilian Steak House | Award-Winning Churrasco | Hot-Food Buffet | Caipirinha Cocktails | Fixed-Price Menu
How it Works: During this all-you-can-eat fine-dining experience, customers are first seated at tables bedecked with white linens. Then, a server parades out a selection of 16 churrascaria meats, carving off a portion of skewered beef, lamb, pork, or chicken. A two-sided, colored coaster—green for "keep it coming," red for "I'm stuffed"—lets the staff know if you'd like seconds or thirds. Diners can also help themselves to the buffet of salad fixings and side dishes.
Inside Tip: Vegetarians can skip out on the meat and pay a reduced price for the salad and sides buffets. The extensive salad bar is filled with traditional choices as well as tabbouleh and pickled shiitake, and the hot side dishes include a "mashed potato so smooth it could pass for crème fraîche," according to OC Weekly.
Caipirinha: a Brazilian cocktail made with the sugarcane-based spirit cachaça and lime juice
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Amazon Churrascaria BBQ Buffet (1445 S. Lemon Street, Fullerton), more casual—but no less authentic—spot for Brazilian cuisine according to the Los Angeles Times.
Brazilian churrascarias—a kind of Portuguese barbeque joint—have their roots in traditional celebrations of a successful harvest. At modern churrascarias, waiters walk around with skewers or roasted meat, cutting off all-you-can-eat portions of steak, pork, and chicken directly onto your plate. Diners interested in rounding out a years' worth of protein can find endless accompaniments at the salad bar and buffet of Brazilian hot dishes or try traditional drinks such as caipirinha or guarana, a Brazilian soda.
Cuts of filet mignon aged up to 35 days steam under coats of béarnaise sauce, and kurobuta pork chops glisten with drizzled necklaces of cherry butter. Skuna Bay-Vancouver Island craft-raised salmon mingles with a citrus-saffron marmalade and seared diver scallops flaunt a garlic-dijon beurre blanc. At Manhattan Steak & Seafood, chefs see the culinary world as a grand soiree, mixing and mingling plates accessorized with stunning sauces and accents—each capturing its own admirers. Their fish have flown in from around the world and their steaks have been aged more than a month, but even these can’t overshadow the fraternity of wild game: bison, elk, boar, and ostrich.
The aromas of pepper and garlic fill the restaurant's five themed rooms. The "Red Room" derives its name from richly upholstered crimson booths, which stand in contrast to stark white walls. The wine cellar is illuminated by sconces set into castle-like stone walls. Jazz musicians descend on the lounge area Wednesdays–Saturdays, prompting foot-traffic on the hardwood dance floor. Live music also adds a distingué touch to the Sunday champagne buffet brunch, which features tables of colorful pastries, carving stations brimming with meat, and unlimited champagne.
Perched atop the hills of its namesake, Orange County Mining Co. pairs an eight-part champagne brunch with 19th-century nostalgia, as wagon wheels and cacti impart a rugged prickle to the restaurant's cozy atmosphere. The brunch offerings warm diners with carved prime rib and ham, cheese blintz, and other toasty tastes, before cooling palates with iced shrimp, snow crab legs, and lox. Ravenous miners can pile culinary ore into made-to-order omelettes, pancakes, and waffles, or gather steam with tamales and menudo at executive chef Horacio Barragan's Mexican station. To cap off appetites, baked delicacies and other sweets are either devoured or skewered for a dunk in the chocolate fountain.
At El Zocalo Mexican Steakhouse, the sounds of sizzling shrimp and chicken fajitas mingle with the horns and strumming guitars of banda and mariachi music. Servers add sight and smell to the sensory party by carting out colorful plates of parillada meat grills. The menu's grilled meats complement a sizable selection of seafood—lobster and salmon, to name a couple. But they also pair nicely with refreshing provisions such as cocktails and buckets of beer sourced from a 21-and-over sandbox.