Wood crackles in a blazing fire as the smells of dust and wild grass waft through the air. In the background, horses' hooves pound across the plains. It's the end of the day for the gauchos, rugged Brazilian cowboys infamous for stealing wandering cattle. While the horsemen top one another with tales of their day's heists, succulent meat seasoned with sea salt roasts over the open flame of the fire. The smoke makes the gauchos’ eyes water as much as their mouths as they sharpen their knives in preparation for a hard-earned feast.
This gaucho style of dining dates back to the 18th century. At Sal Grosso, the chefs continue the gauchos' culinary tradition—now known as churrasco—of slow-cooking meats over an open flame and then serving tableside, or rodizio. The servers slice and serve endless portions of beef, lamb, poultry, and pork flavored with various spices and coarse salt. They also deliver traditional Brazilian flan and other desserts along with signature caipirinhas and flavored martinis to diners who haven't zoned their stomachs as carnivore-exclusive territories.
Sal Grosso trades the wild grasses and plains of South America for Brazilian-made leather dining chairs, hardwood columns, and modern abstract art. In addition to a large bar and 70-seat banquet room, the patio gives guests a view of the modern-day gauchos cooking meat inside a glassed-in outdoor kitchen as a fountain sends water streaming into a connected pool.
Live music regularly reverberates off Samba Loca Brazilian Steakhouse's bright-red walls, which bear festive decorations of ethnic artwork and wine racks crafted from gleaming chrome. Patrons sit under the full bar's flat-screen TVs, around tables, or in booths as the kitchen’s Brazilian recipes power entrees of 10-ounce strip steaks and salmon doused in Brazilian honey-dijon mustard. Customizable meals come in the form of five grill-fired meats, including filet mignon and red snapper, which don one of nine traditional sauces splashed with notes of curry, blue cheese, or passionfruit. To help them to decide, patrons not fluent in Portuguese can rely on the menu's English and Klingon translations or gaze at screens that feature photos of Samba Loca's signature dishes.
Executive Chef Scott Barrows waits to post specials at Devon Seafood Grill until he has spotted the best choices from the day's catch, ensuring his dishes are packed with the freshest, most flavorful seafood available. Past plates on Devon's robust menu have included jumbo lump crab cakes, coconut-green-curry mussels, and char-crusted ahi tuna, which can be paired with signature cocktails and fine wines from a collection on display in the dining area. Barrows and his staff welcome diners into this sophisticated two-level restaurant decorated with modern art that is splashed by warm lighting and the wake made by beluga whales arriving for dinner.
Beginning with locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, Executive Chef Jason Shelley and his team forge an eclectic menu of surf ‘n’ turf that puts a modern spin on traditional American supper clubs. At Ocean Prime, he manages to refine established dishes by incorporating refined ingredients, including black truffles and lobster. These upscale touches are present throughout the selection of USDA prime steaks, which the chefs dust with housemade seasoning and roast to order inside a 1,200-degree broiler. Even with six cuts of steak to choose from, "seafood is the main draw," according to Gayot. The daily selections of wild and naturally harvested seafood can include everything from ginger-tinged salmon to blackened snapper. To accompany these hearty entrees, handcrafted cocktails are joined by a similarly refined wine list, which earned Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence and features more than 50 selections by the glass. With its black banquettes, simple wooden chairs, and tables draped with white linens, Ocean Prime honors its supper-club roots. However, the dining area is thoroughly modern. Large circular mirrors adorn the earth-toned walls and the stout, cylindrical lamps hang from the ceiling and light the majority of the room. Mobile-like collections of glass orbs dangle above some of the booths, catching the rays of light and casting a glow throughout the room.
Midtown Atlanta has plenty of gay bar options, but Burkhart’s Pub remains a popular spot due to its weekend-only drag shows, which kick off to capacity crowds at 11 p.m. If you’re hoping to catch the show yourself – or simply want to enjoy the tiny dance floor – plan on arriving early, lest you be left out in the cold. Smoking is allowed in certain parts of the bar, and with cheap drinks and a friendly crowd nearly every night of the week, Burkhart’s remains a low-key spot for the city’s gay population to come together. Waits at the bar can be lengthy during peak hours, but with a neon-lit second level and plenty of nooks for hiding away in, there’s always at least a little room to maneuver.
There’s nothing political about a steak, even if it comes from a steakhouse run by the children of DeKalb County’s former tax commissioner and county commissioner. John-Thomas and Christopher Scott, owners of Parker’s on Ponce, envisioned their space as a cozy meeting place for everyone in the neighborhood. Mullioned windows surround their dining room, where servers deliver the restaurant’s signature dish, the 16-ounce kansas city strip, amid two stone-faced fireplaces and twinkling tabletop candles. So perfectly prepared is this steak—along with the 16-ounce rib eye, 10-ounce filet, and a 32-ounce porterhouse—that the eatery garnered a Diner’s Choice nod for best steaks on OpenTable.com. Southern-style classics receive upscale twists as evidenced by the Carolina trout, which comes adorned with a citrus beurre blanc and white-cheddar grits, as well as bone-in pork chops and salmon served with a salsa of pomegranate and barbecued mango. To accompany the rich fare, the Scotts and their staff have curated a lengthy wine selection, which ranges from Italian pinot grigio to a merlot squeezed from moon rocks. They are skilled in recommending craft and large-format beers from around the globe or one of 12 signature cocktails created with top-shelf liquors.