Texas de Brazil blends the steak-centric cuisine of Texas with the traditional churrasco method of slow-roasting meat over an open flame grill to form a luscious meaty mélange. The full dinner ($39.99) marches out a cavalcade of choice cuts, allowing diners to welcome continuous windfalls of flavorful proteins. Brandish your table's provided card, green on one side, red on the other, and it will function as a meat traffic light that summons servers to either send stacks of seasoned beef, pork, or lamb skewers or halt plate traffic like a decorated culinary crossing guard. Or feel free to substitute greens for the grill by stepping into the sprawling salad-bar conga line ($24.99), two-stepping through toothsome goodies such as imported cheeses, steamed asparagus, and dozens of other hors d'oeuvres.
For such a decadent culinary tradition, churrasco comes from humble origins. Gauchos in the southernmost region of Brazil would typically end their long days of cattle ranching by meeting around a roaring fire pit, where they prepared family-style meals and roasted skewered meats over the open flames. This tradition lives on in churrascarias throughout the world, allowing diners to experience this rustic style of home cooking in a more formal atmosphere.
At Gaucho Brazilian Steakhouse, the chefs remain faithful to the flavors of those countryside meals. Skewers of as many as 16 different meats—including rib-eye steak, lamb chops, and pork tenderloin—slowly rotate above the grill's flames or a handful of fire-breathing dragons, imbuing the hearty proteins with an unmistakably smoky tenderness.
As servers travel throughout the dining area with skewers hot off the flames, diners can catch the staff's attention by flipping their coasters from red to green. This signals the servers to approach and carve tableside servings directly off the skewer. Although the savory meats are the main attraction, even earning the eatery WDIV's Vote 4 the Best award for Detroit's Best Steakhouse in 2012, a salad bar also tempts diners with more than 40 hot and cold side dishes, including everything from fresh spring mix to mushroom risotto.
The dining room's mural of a Brazilian gaucho herding cattle nods to the cuisine's rustic roots, but its earthenware floor tiles and cherry-wood columns ensure a refined ambiance. The tables, draped with crisp white linens and flanked by red-cushioned chairs, are well spaced so as to allow for intimate family dinners and the regular plate-patrol rounds made by the vigilant servers.
Once fresh catches arrive to Cafe West, it's up to you how they're made. Diners can choose from 10 preparation styles for 6 seafood classics, from deep-frying mahi-mahi to stirring perch into scampi. Of course, the chefs whip up their own creations, too, such as mac 'n' cheese made from cavatappi pasta, succulent scallops and shrimp, and house alfredo sauce.
Besides maritime options, Cafe West spotlights plenty of land-based proteins, including chargrilled 1-pound ribeyes and blackened chicken smothered in housemade pineapple salsa. Bartenders complement meals with an extensive selection of wine and brews both imported and local, some of which they showcase at frequent tasting events.
Circular mirrors back the bar, while the windowpanes in the casual dining room sport ocean-themed decorations, including diagrams explaining the differences between public and private schools of fish. Outdoor seating sets a relaxed mood during warm months.
Big Bear Lodge's culinary team can't light up a campfire indoors, but they do the next best thing by preparing their dishes over open flames. Inside, diners instantly catch whiffs of the six thin-crust pizzas chefs cook in a wood-fired oven, herb-garlic chicken rotating on a wood-fired rotisserie, or grain-fed aged Angus steaks searing on a wood-burning grill. More meat dominates the menu, from platters of pan-seared and oven-broiled Atlantic salmon, gulf shrimp, and bay scallops to bison, elk, and ostrich burgers made with grass- and grain-fed cuts free of antibiotics and hormones.
The dishes all pair with Big Bear Lodge's selection of bottled and draft beer brewed in-state, as well as thermoses full of alcohol-spiked ciders, cocoas, and coffees. There are nonalcoholic ways to keep warm too, from munching on plates of freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies to cozying up amid the restaurant’s log cabin decor. Beneath the dining room's honey-hued beams, nostalgic wall collages pay homage to the institution of camping, reminding guests of the ghost stories, s’mores, and forest-ranger ambitions they once had.
Oakwood Grill & Bar sates stomachs with classic American bar fare, wets whistles with a wide array of beer, wine, and cocktails, and keeps boredom at bay with a full slate of boisterous special events. The menu's hearty offerings include a herd of 24 buffalo wings ($17.95) and the spicy Hot in Here burger ($6.95) topped with grilled jalapeños, pepper jack cheese, and three strips of Dearborn bacon. Like ancient Egyptian papyrus scrolls, the loaded pepperoni roll ($6.95) enfolds more than 40 pepperoni slices in thin pizza dough slathered in butter and parmesan cheese. Hungry herbivores, meanwhile, can snack on lightly battered fried pickles and cream-cheese jalapeños ($4.95) while sipping beers and cocktails mixed behind Oakwood's long cement bar with a motor-powered cement mixer.
Roma Caf? started out as a one-woman operation way back in 1888. The Marazza family ran a boarding house for Eastern Market farmers, and Mrs. Marazza would always serve a hot meal to anyone who stayed. Word of her cooking skills spread quickly throughout the Eastern Market area, and her various fans convinced her to open an official restaurant. In February of 1890, Roma Caf? was born.
Its continuing commitment to classic recipes is apparent from one glance at the menu, where housemade pastas share space with veal scaloppine and broiled lobster tails. Adventurous eaters will be drawn to dishes such as the sauteed sweetbreads and frog legs, and wine enthusiasts can browse an extensive list of reds, whites, and specials.
Although the baked lasagna and chicken parmigiana are certainly Old World staples, Roma Caf? hasn't become mired in tradition. Its third-generation owner, Janet Sossi Belcoure, takes regular trips to Italy that keep her up-to-date on culinary trends and the latest gossip on who's dating Michelangelo's David. The restaurant also offers an all-you-can-eat buffet on Monday nights, complete with appetizers, pasta dishes, and cannoli. If you stop by on the night of a Red Wings game, there's even a shuttle that will take you to the arena.