After 15 years in the pizza business, Chef Ronaldo Gomes opened Copacabana Pizzeria, with a menu that melds Brazilian flavors with casual American standards. His Brazilian-style pizzas come covered with a melted layer of catupiry cheese, a Brazilian favorite, as well as Latin-style ingredients ranging from hearts of palm to calabresa sausage or pepperoni, mushrooms, and other classic ingredients. Their Brazilian Monster Burgers offer a three-dimensional alternative to flat pizza planes. These towering sandwiches are stacked high with grilled chicken, sirloin steak, corn, peas, potato sticks, and other ingredients that barely fit between a warm bun. Mangos, guava, and other tropical fruit blend together to form caipirinhas and other Brazilian-style drinks perfectly suited to lubricating both conversations and the most righteous Slip-and-Slides.
Though chef Daniel Nemec specialized in classic French cuisine at the Texas Culinary Academy, his heart lies in the smokehouse. As the leader of Woodfire Kirby’s kitchen, he draws from his experiences growing up in Corpus Christi, where steaks and barbecue pepper the culinary landscape and are considered legal tender.
Nemec imbues hickory flavor in ribs, chops, and sirloin burgers, but demonstrates the wood’s versatility with a menu that also includes wood-fired soups and thin-crust pizzas. New york strip steaks and blue-ribbon fillets are cooked to a choice of six temperatures, including classic medium rare and charred-yet-red pittsburgh. Available raw, grilled, or poached, seafood showcases spices that range from asian to argentine to creole.
A private room welcomes up to 48 visitors with a high-definition TV and four banquet menus, and the dining room attracts nighttime guests with handcrafted cocktails and a buzz as vibrant as a birthday party inside a hornet nest.
It's not entirely surprising that filet mignon is the signature dish at Y.O. Steakhouse. What is surprising is that the meat is buffalo, and that buffalo is only one of several exotic game animals on the Y.O. Ranch. This 48,000-acre sprawl of Hill Country provides chef Tony Street with many of his popular dishes. The wild game special appetizer, for example, acts as an introduction to uncommon meats with grilled quail breasts, wild boar sausage, and venison roll-ups. For dinner, guests can order elk tenderloin in a blackberry port reduction, or venison chops with forest mushroom bread pudding. Of course, Chef Street has also mastered the ubiquitous beef steak. His rib eyes and sirloins are all USDA Prime and cut in-house, then prepped in the classic rancher's style: spiced, charred on a flattop griddle, and served to whoever wins it in a poker game. Seafood is likewise cooked with Texas flair, and ranges from red chili-rubbed salmon to chicken-fried lobster. Each entree finds a place inside a rustic yet swanky dining room, where candlelit tables sit beyond 100-year-old brick arches.
When Ben Googins met Rio de Janeiro native Elias Martins while teaching English in Brazil in 1998, he couldn't have guessed that the two would wind up making p?o de queijo?cheese bread?on an episode of the Cooking Channel's FoodCrafters with celebrity chef Aida Mollenkamp. Their journey began as Googins learned more and more about the Portuguese language and the generous, hospitable Brazilian culture via Martins's family and their flavorful cooking. The duo eventually moved to Austin in 2006, bent on realizing their dream of opening their own restaurant. After their handmade foods gained popularity at the downtown farmers' market, their all-natural malagueta sauces appeared in Austin's flagship Whole Foods store. They finally opened Rio's Brazilian Caf? in 2010, where the staff makes caipirinhas and creates contemporary and traditional Brazilian recipes from scratch. The last Saturday of every month, diners can enjoy feijoada, a classic Brazilian stew made with pork, beef, sausage, black beans, and the juice of one soccer ball.
The restaurant still, of course, makes its renowned cheese bread. The basil variety was the favorite of Fearless Critic, which noted that the restaurant is "one of the few places where carnivores, vegetarians, and gluten-intolerant diners can all happily coexist." The restaurant was also a Critics' Pick for Most Charming Brazilian Outpost in the Austin Chronicle's Best of Austin 2011, and has appeared in numerous publications and on TV shows such as Good Day Austin and Fox 7 News. According to Eater Austin, celebrities Ryan Gosling and Rooney Mara have noshed at the cozy eatery, whose bright yellow and green exterior and outdoor patio give way to a similarly vibrant and eclectic dining area.
Prestigious head chef Jon Bonnell and his team of culinary artists cook using strokes of regional style with spices that fuse southwestern, Creole, and Mexican influences. The lunch menu oozes flavor with a fire-roasted chili relleno, stuffed with grilled vegetables, basil pesto, and cheese ($15). The dinner menu includes the mixed grill, where homemade Andouille sausage and a wild boar chop are topped with wild game demi-glace and served with roasted green chili cheese grits and grilled cactus. Then, add a choice of elk or buffalo tenderloin, grilled organic quail, lamb loin, pheasant, or a griffon flank steak ($35+).
The Great American Land and Cattle Company provides steaks that are cut onsite and cooked precisely to specifications. They arrive with an eclectic smorgasboard of sides: pineapple coleslaw, fries or veggies, and "Texas caviar"?that is, beans. The most popular cut is the tender ribeye, but the menu has all degrees of fanciness covered, from filet mignon to country-fried steak in gravy to steakburgers. If you'd like yours extra-spicy, you can order it tampique?a?covered with grilled onions and green chilies or jalape?os.
Though the company produces its many seasonings and sauces with steak in mind, the kitchen's not a beef-only zone. It also makes room for pulled-pork sandwiches, Cajun-style chicken, and charbroiled cold-water lobster tails, among other proteins. On Wednesdays and Saturdays, music and other live entertainment drifts through the dining room and onto the patio as the mountains in the background sway gently to the beat.