The chefs’ mission at Favela Grill is more challenging than it may seem: take simple ingredients and transform them into the flavorful bites that characterize Brazilian cuisine. To attain this goal, they have spent years playing with combinations that achieve surprising harmony, such as grilled, marinated salmon with a passionfruit reduction and shrimp sautéed in palm oil and flavored with coconut milk. But according to Time Out New York, “it’s the beef that lures the crowd,” be it served carpaccio style with capers and shredded parmesan or in the Costela Bam-Bam, a signature entree comprising slow-roasted Prime beef ribs served over cassava. In the kitchen, top sirloin, skirt steak, and sausages rotate on spits before being served churrasco style in the romantically lit dining room. While surrounded by colorful paintings, exposed-brick walls, and three-dimensional artwork, diners pair their seafood stews and grilled chicken with Brazil’s national cocktail—the caipirinha—or wines from France, Italy, California, Argentina, Chile, and, of course, Brazil. On Fridays and Saturdays, the sound of live Latin-style guitar permeates the room for a bit of authentic flair.
Seen from afar, the food crossing the counter at New York Pão de Queijo might convince you that the bright, tiny storefront is a typical burger-and-shake shack. It's the details that tell you something else is going on—namely, Brazil's wildly creative, colorful take on the American burger and its accessories.
More than 10 beef, veggie, and turkey patties come gussied up with a kitchen sink's worth of fixings, including corn, potato sticks, sausage, house-made Brazilian cheese, banana, and pineapple. Smoothies attempt to balance out the towering feats of indulgence with nutrient-dense combos of papaya, passion fruit, peach, açai, and oats. The kitchen's commitment to snackery is also evident in the signature pão de queijo, a yuca-based bread puff filled with deliquescent cheese. Among other treats, The Daily Meal has praised its traditional bauru ham sandwich and its "great quick snacks" that can easily be downed while playing a typical soccer match.
New York City is a long way from the Rio Grande do Sul region of Brazil, and the wait staff at Churrascaria Tribeca certainly don’t live the rough-and-tumble lives of gauchos—Brazilian ranchers who gathered around wood-burning fires after hard days’ work to slow cook prime meats. But don’t let these discrepancies fool you. Hunks of bare prime meat are still slow cooked above wood fires at this Brazilian steak house, a faithful nod to the gauchos of days past. And the waiters still carry knives in their belts, which they unsheathe at diners’ requests—via the flip of a colored coaster—to shave off perfectly tender cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and chicken. Every day, amid a parade of skewered meats, waiters march out a specialty dish, such as a roasted suckling pig towed by cart from table to table. To enjoy this spectacular parade of slow-cooked meats, it’s best to have a ravenous appetite—which is trickier than it may first seem. Each meal begins with unlimited visits to the banquet-style buffet and salad bar, where a veritable garden’s worth of vegetables, salads, and seasonal casseroles await. During meals, waiters continuously replenish sides such as fried plantains, mashed potatoes, and cheese bread, and every meal ends with the appearance of a dessert cart full of sweet and decadent treats made in-house.
There’s no questioning Berimbau chef Carlos Inacio’s intimate connection to the cuisine of Brazil when you scan his menu, a focused collection of dishes rich with traditional ingredients such as calabresa sausage, yucca, and seafood. He hails from the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, an area known for its “stellar cuisine,” according to New York magazine, which also lauded Berimbau as a “pioneer” among NYC Brazilian restaurants. Berimbau is far from a common rodízio steakhouse, although there’s no lack of pork or steak on the menu. But instead of all-you-can-eat feasts, patrons select elegant presentations of distinctive dishes, such as fraldinha, grilled skirt steak served with yucca purée, sautéed collard greens, and creamy hearts-of-palm sauce. Chef Carlos continues to position his homeland’s food in a fresh, colorful context through dishes such as risotto with asparagus, sautéed shrimp, and cilantro butter. Berimbau’s wine list has been curated with pairing in mind, and the white, sparkling, and red wines—categorized as either Old World or New World—add grace notes that perfectly emphasize the potpourri of Brazilian flavors. But the beverages of choice here are the caipirinhas—Brazilian cocktails that can be mixed with passionfruit, strawberry, coconut, mango, or lime.
Dining at Churrascaria Plataforma is a ritual. Each prix-fixe meal begins with a “first course” that requires restraint not to overdo, since it consists of a banquet-style buffet that features four different casseroles and countless delicacies. When diners are ready to move on, they flip a coaster-sized chip from its red side to its green side. This not only proves the other side isn’t made of sweet, sweet chocolate, it also signals the restaurant’s meat cutters to bring over the prime beef, which they carve tableside and pass out on skewers. During this main course period, servers also bring the fish of the day and slice off hunks of the whole roasted suckling pig that winds through the dining room on a cart each night. Finally, the dessert cart arrives bearing chocolate fudge truffles and coconut flan. This rodizio dining style, which originated in southern Brazil in the 19th Century, has a fitting accompaniment: bossa nova and samba music play throughout the meal.
Vintage bicycle-themed artwork and patches of exposed brick add a certain cozy charm to Zebú Grill’s dining room, where the chefs serve everything from housemade Brazilian sausage to flan. Tropical ingredients accent most of the food and drinks—shrimp braises in coconut milk, wild salmon wears a coat of açaí sauce, and caipirinha cocktails made from Leblon cachaça muddle fresh lime and sugar.
Two of the eatery’s signature dishes include a churrasco platter with steak, chicken, sausage, rice, and beans, and Brazil’s national dish, feijoada: a black-bean stew with sausage, pork, and beef. For less-meaty dishes, the chefs also hollow out acorn squash, carve a hungry face into its surface, and fill it with seasonal veggies.