Tempero do Brasil transports diners' taste buds to the northeastern state of Bahia and beyond with a menu of authentic Brazilian fare. Feijoada, a savory black bean stew and the national dish of the Portuguese-speaking republic ($17), swims with ham hocks, sausages, and beef and arrives with an entourage of rice, sautéed collard greens, and orange slices. In the traditional moqueca de camaräo ($18) expertly trained prawns and vegetables perform a smoldering samba amid coconut milk, lime juice, and palm oil and the festa ($15) loads sautéed mushrooms and parmesan cheese into a baked-squash boat and sends it sailing into tomato-sauce seas. Seal the meal with a dose of caramel-flan dessert ($5) trained in the art of capoeira. Tempero do Brasil showcases live Brazilian music Saturday nights, filling the air with the distinctly South American sounds of the bossa nova and the glockenspiel.
"Fumaça" means "smoke" in Portuguese, and it's an apt name for this steakhouse. The obvious connection is that the cooks roast their meats in a mesquite charcoal grill, which releases aromatic smoke as it intensifies the flavor of the cuts. But there's another reason why smoke is especially relevant: it travels, far and freely. Fumaça's menu does the same, gathering dishes from Colombia, Peru, Puerto Rico, and of course, Brazil.
Inside the restaurant's sleekly modern confines, Peruvian halibut ceviche can be ordered alongside pork belly rubbed with Caribbean spices, or a Puerto Rican octopus cocktail salad. The ingredients defy international boundaries even further—many of them are local, such as the grass-fed and organic meat, whereas others come from as far away as the Amazon. But while the protein might be from the northwest, there's no denying that the rodizio dinners are a Brazilian invention. Guests sample different cuts of beef, poultry, lamb, and pork during the extravagant all-you-can-eat meal. There's also a long list of wines and cocktails, including specialty drinks made from tropical fruits including guava, passion fruit, and grapes that were wearing sunglasses.
When night falls over southern Brazil, groups of gauchos gather around flickering fire pits and celebrate the end of another day by slowly grilling meat over the open flames. Novilhos Brazilian Steakhouse aims to capture the spirit of these traditional meals by hosting all-you-can-eat churrasco feasts that Zagat scored as "very good to excellent."
The chefs roast up more than a dozen cuts of meat, including filet mignon, bacon-wrapped chicken, lamb chops, and pork sausages. Servers dressed as gauchos parade these freshly grilled skewers throughout the dining room, stopping at diners' seats and offering to carve them slices tableside. In between these protein-laden servings, guests can visit the salad bar and load their plates up with more than 60 different side dishes, such as fresh-cut vegetables and imported cheeses.
Piranha Joe's shelters hungry stomach-sailors in a relaxed atmosphere filled with the savory, salt-watered scents of grilled steaks and freshly-caught Northwestern seafood. Adventurous eaters can chart their course through the menu map starting with a plate of roasted alligator fritters ($8.95) or a crisp salad of mixed greens topped with savory blue cheese, sweet blueberries, and the clashing colors of house-smoked salmon ($12.95). With daily deliveries of fresh seafood via secret underground maglev train straight from Puget Sound, Piranha Joe's creates a culinary confluence of aqua and terra in entrees such as oven-baked or charbroiled local Coho salmon ($16.95) or stuffed prawns wrapped with bacon and swelling with sweet crabmeat and scallops ($16.95). Meat-minded diners will salivate at the thought of hearty cuts such as The Baseball eight-ounce top sirloin ($18.95). An amphibious pairing of six-ounce rancher steak with sautéed or tempura-style shrimp ($22.95) is as fun to eat as it is to assemble into a face-hugger, while the bar menu provides simpler options for exotic eats such as the alfredo gator or Louisiana gator pizzas ($9.95 each). Patrons also can refuel after daring mid-afternoon office escapes with lunch selections such as blackened fish tacos with balsamic tomato relish ($7.95). Otherwise, flex fingers in anticipation of the sundry sandwich and hamburger options, ranging from the Surfer Sam (turkey and ham dressed with avocado and jack cheese in the grainy embrace of grilled sourdough bread; $9.45) to the fiery Crock burger’s ground sirloin and Portuguese sausage served with red-pepper aioli on a crisp ciabatta bun ($11.95).
Where to Sit: If you'd like privacy to propose to your partner—or to discuss a proposal with your business partner—request to be seated in one of the high-backed booths.
Rib-eye steak: a tender, flavorful cut of beef from the rib section that is prepared either bone-in or boneless.
Steak oscar: steak served with toppings of crabmeat, asparagus, and a creamy sauce—either hollandaise or béarnaise.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
For the art collector: Admire the work of local and national artists at Jeffery Moose Gallery (1333 Fifth Avenue).
For the theatergoer: ACT – A Contemporary Theatre (700 Union Street) houses five theaters in one building. Past performances have included Little Shop of Horrors and Arthur Miller's The Price.
For the fashionista: Butch Blum (1332 Sixth Avenue) currates high-end collections from European clothing and accessory designers.