Brazilian steak houses offer a unique food experience
One of my favorite restaurants is the Brazilian steakhouse where waiters serve the Churrascaria food selections on skewers one slice at a time with a huge salad bar in the background. Texas de Brazil is at the top of the list but I have enjoyed them all including Papagaio’s restaurant in occupied Jerusalem in Israel. Eating at a Brazilian steakhouse is an experience every human T-Rex should enjoy
By Ray Hanania
The first time I enjoyed food at an all-you-can-eat Brazilian steak house was while visiting relatives in Israel and occupied Palestine.
The restaurant was called Papagaio Restaurant and it was located in the Israeli controlled area of Jerusalem. The restaurant offers a salad bar, and other items off the menu but also waiters would bring meats on skewers and serve slices to diners at their tables as they ate.
That was in 1997, right about the time that a new fad of Brazilian steakhouses, called Churrascarias in Brazil, were sweeping America.
Today, diners in the states and in many other countries, can chose between several places to enjoy an endless array of freshly served meats. They are Fogo de Chão, one of the first national franchises to open. It was quickly followed by Chama Gaúcha and Texas de Brazil.
They are even popular on cruise ships. We enjoyed the Moderno Churrascaria Brazilian Steakhouse while sailing on the Norwegian Cruise ship the Epic. We make sure to make a reservation at that restaurant every time, much like also enjoying the Japanese Hibachi restaurant there, too.
The settings and experience are similar. They offer a large salad bar and when you are ready you have a flat disk that looks like a drink coaster. One side is Red and the other side is Green. When you want the Churrascario Waiters to serve you meats, you flip it to green. When you want the Churrascario Waiters to pass you buy, you flip it to Red. In truth, if you are with a large group, they are serving at your table all the time, so red or green you can ask to have a slice of meat if you see one you like.
Most Brazilian steakhouse restaurants serve about a dozen meat selections during lunch and even more with the best filet and steaks in the evening. The costs are basic, around $27 per person for lunch and $47 per person for dinner, depending on where you go. The salad bar is included and usually has 50 to 60 different fresh salad options, or you can go there just to eat the salad if you are vegetarian for $20. Costs increase on the weekends.
Texas de Brazil is one of my favorites. They have two in Chicagoland including in Chicago and in Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg where we ate over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. It was a great place to relax and watch the crowds jam stores on Black Friday, an example of American retail depravity.
Soon, Texas de Brazil will open a 3rd location in Orland Park, but I hope it isn’t going to be a “mini-me” version of the restaurant, something that the Cheesecake Factory did when they opened a restaurant location in the Orland Park Mall. It’s too small, but the Orland Park Mall doesn’t have a lot of space. The new Texas de Brazil is going to open up in the Orland Park Mall so I am not very hopeful that it will be spacious or comfortable. There are a lot of better locations outside the mall in Orland Park, which has become a major economic hub between Chicago and Joliet in the Southwest suburbs.
As I mentioned after you sit down, you can grab a plate and check out the salad bar which has many great servings. Texas de Brazil is one of the few places that knows how to make Tabouli salad. Perfectly. It’s the best I’ve tasted.
But there is so much more.
When you offer all-you-can-eat meats, you don’t want someone sitting at a table just eating the meat. You have to fill them up ab it otherwise, they will eat up all your profits.
The Churrascario Waiters severe many meats including chicken and Brazilian sausage, and offer a large selection of very narrow sliced cuts of meat off the skewers. It would take about 12 visits from the waiter to get even close to eating a 12 ounce steak.
But you enjoy it slowly.
Try not to think of what Aliens might do if they landed on Earth and started to consume people. I have a feeling, they would cook us the same way restaurants cook animals. There are times when you find yourself waiting for a Churrascario Waiter to bring you a meat serving.
Eating during dinner, which costs more, than eating at lunch, offers all of the available meats including Filet Mignon, Filet Mignon Wrapped in Bacon, Braised Beef Ribs, Lamb Chops, Pork Ribs, Brazilian Picanha, Garlic Picanha, Brazilian Sausage, Leg of Lamb, Chicken Breast Wrapped in Bacon, Parmesan Drumettes, Parmesan-Crusted Pork Loin, Flank Steak, Herb-Marinated Pork Loin, Brazilian Alcatra, and Chicken Sausage.
It wasn’t bad at all. Some of the meats were great. Some were ok. But the overall experience was great. It’s even better if you relax a bit and enjoy the food.
I really love their salad bar so if you are vegetarian, this is the best place to go, although you will have to watch meat eaters tear through selections like Tyrannosaurus Rex.
Texas de Brazil
5 Woodfield Center Suite D312
Schaumburg, Illinois 60173
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"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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