The staff at Tropical Café patrol the restaurant’s perimeter constantly, spears in hand. They’re not on guard duty, though. Rather, they’re servers, carving off portions of freshly roasted Brazilian barbecue. They stop at every table, offering their savory cargo to diners who have flipped their personal dining card green side up, indicating that they might be in danger of consuming plant matter from the extensive salad bar if more meat does not arrive soon.
The taste of culture doesn’t stop at the barbecue, however. Tropical Café fills weekends with live musical performances of South American and Brazilian folk music. Wednesday evenings are devoted to karaoke, the classic contest made more interesting by participants who sing with mouthfuls of meat.
Brazilian-born owners Vagmar Stoffel and Rubiano Aguiar sought to create a community dining experience at Rio's Steakhouse, evoking gustatory memories of their hometowns. Rodizio-style dining allows guests to remain seated while attentive churrascaria waiters continually fill empty plates from skewers of slow-cooked beef, chicken, and pork, which they gingerly carve tableside. In between platefuls, diners can temporarily stop the flow of cuisine with either a color-coded coaster or a cleverly placed soccer ball, buying themselves time to visit the ever-changing buffet of hot sides and salad fixings.
At each of Oliveira's Steakhouse four locations, the crackling sizzle of roasting meat ring’s out like a starter’s pistol, signaling the beginning of Brazilian-style churrasco feasts. Weaving between tables, servers garbed in black shirts and scarlet neckerchiefs trot out flame-kissed chicken, pork, sausage, and rodízio steak presented upon a meat-laden short sword suitable for speedy delivery or elevating a busboy to knighthood. A salad bar supplements meaty mouthfuls with plates of leafy greens, rice, beans, and sauce-laden noodles.
“Basta, basta!” The words may as well be a mantra at Midwest Grill. The term, meaning “enough” in Portuguese, is the perfect finish to the churrascaria’s all-you-can-eat cavalcade of grilled meats and hearty seafood dishes. Passadores—the Brazilian word for waiters—rotate around tables, slicing fresh-grilled skewers of beef sirloin, Brazilian-style ribs, and succulent lamb and pork loin on to plates at the feaster’s demand. This dining style is known as rodízio, and it doesn't just apply to churrasco meats; patrons can also opt for seafood options, such as Brazilian fish stew and sautéed shrimp, or engage a server in a duel with a carving fork. The all-you-can-eat meal is served at a fixed price at both lunch and dinner, and includes unlimited helpings from the salad bar and hot-food buffet. Each of Midwest Grill's locations also houses a TV-lined bar, where mixologists concoct cocktails and pop open bottles of Brazilian beer and wine.
From the antler chandeliers overhead to the rustic furnishings and cozy, wood-burning fireplace, everything about The Tipsy Toboggan Fireside Pub encourages visitors to feel at home. With the exposed bricks and beams stretching up toward the vaulted ceilings, the dining room feels more like a ski lodge than a place for a parmesan-truffle french fries. Nonetheless, the chefs whip up a roster of elevated American comfort foods, from customizable mac 'n' cheese to chicken pot pie.
Most chefs don’t want to hear about how they should prepare a meal; but at Providence Prime chefs welcome patrons to share how they like their premium steaks to be cooked and served. Located on historic Federal Hill, the steakhouse offers diners a chance to order steaks topped with a blue-cheese or horseradish crust, or smothered in bernaise or hollandaise sauce. Steaks are served with side dishes such as mac-and-cheese or peas and bacon, and options from the sea include crab legs, yellowfin tuna, and fishermen's boots. Desserts such as housemade tiramisu, key lime pie, and vanilla-bean crème brûlée finish out each meal, which can be paired with a selection from a list that offers more than 300 wines.