A lonely fire flickers in the night, punctuating the vast expanse of Brazil’s southern plains. A spitted side of Nelore beef roasts over the flames; from that famed beast and this timeless fireside scene, Nelore takes its name, recipes, and spirit.
Nelore’s chefs draw inspiration from the gauchos of South America, piling plates high with carvings of 16 spit-roasted meats. The spirit of the southern plains remains alive and well in the dining room, where wrought-iron chandeliers and a dark hardwood floor evoke rustic elegance as a warm breeze filters in through the front doors. Veggies, fine cheeses, and pastas fill more than 40 basins at the salad bar, whose glistening glass protects the trays from grazing cattle and errant horseshoe tosses.
Dubbed “a carnivorous extravaganza” by the Houston Chronicle, Angus Grill Brazilian Churrascaria serves all-you-can-eat feasts of skewered meat prepared in the churrasco tradition of southern Brazil. Servers run the piquant pageant, carving slabs of Angus beef at tables lined with crisp white linens instead of the stolen Little League rain tarps that some restaurants prefer. Filet mignons borrow crispy texture by donning strips of bacon, and top sirloin, the house specialty, flavors succulent juices with a hint of garlic. Treats such as fried bananas and papaya cream conclude meals on a sweet note.
Redolent with the wafting scent of freshly charred beef and sizzling skewers, Guri Do Sul decorates it charming interior with heaping plates of fresh Brazilian barbecue. More than 16 different types of succulent meat are brought tableside by rugged gauchos, or Brazilian cowboys, who use a giant knife or the sharpened edge of a baked-beans can to slice off juicy hunks of pork, lamb, and beef. The delicately folded picanha top sirloin delights tongue buds with carefully seasoned mouthfuls, as the costela beef ribs relinquish traditional churrasco flavors. To accent the protein feast, servers also adorn table spreads with various sides such as pão de queijo, baked cheesy spheres, or caramelized bananas, a lavish indulgences of butter-sautéed fruit with accents of brown sugar and cinnamon.
A swanky ambiance defined by an elegant decor, including stained-oak mouldings and maroon drapes, complements the high-caliber steakhouse cuisine served at Post Oak Grill. The Houston bistro has been around for 23 years, so it just got out of college. The restaurant’s chef, Polo Becerra, pairs bold flavors in starters such as duck-confit crepes with blackberry sauce and melted gorgonzola. For a main course, he might grill Gulf Coast red snapper or cook a center-cut steak and augment its juiciness by adding a port-wine-and-fig reduction. Chef Becerra and his team can even bring their culinary services to homes and offices with their catering.
At a jade-green bar, servers pour a long list of international wines. Nearby, a pianist tickles the ivories during happy hour. On Thursday–Saturday evening, musicians perform classic songs or melodic readings of the newspaper fine-arts section.
The tempting and decidedly not-fast-food aromas of sizzling gaucho-style meats, mozzarella, and Brazilian catupiry cheese emanate from Friend’s Pizzeria’s brick oven. The pizzeria’s chefs deftly combine Italian and Brazilian influences with a menu of more than 20 gourmet pizzas. In addition to traditional pies, Friend’s whips up its specialty fusion pizzas, which blend Latin American flavors such as shrimp, green olives, or tangy and soft catupiry cheese. Towering Brazilian Monster burgers challenge diners and tightly fastened bow ties to accommodate their hefty portions of sirloin steak, potato skins, and eggs. After placing orders at a walk-up counter, diners nosh in a dining room festooned with Brazilian- and Italian-flag prints, line drawings of city scenes, and patriotic green and yellow walls.
Just as the gauchos of southern Brazil, Uruguay, and Argentina slow-roasted meats over log and coal fires, so to do the chefs at Pradaria Steaks & Churrascaria. It’s a time-honored tradition of South American cooking that sears a smoky flavor into meat seasoned only with salt. Patrons can enjoy cuts of sirloin, filet mignon, pork loin, and leg of lamb roasted in the kitchen and sliced tableside in the rodízio style, or they can order from the à la carte menu of meats. They can then complete plates with trips to decadent salad and sides bars stocked with such selections as seafood cocktails, Brazilian-style steamed rice, yucca fries, and fried plantains.