At heart—and stomach—I am a glutton, but I’m no fan of all you can eat buffets. That’s because I often reach the point of diminishing returns and indiscriminate eating simultaneously. Over the years though there has been one AYCE concept I can get behind. That’s the Brazilian rodizio/churrascaria, a carnivorous carnival wherein one is served various delectable meats carved off skewers by roving waiters. Each diner is given a chip, green on one side to signal, “Bring on the meat,” and red on the other to signal, “No, thanks.”
When Texas de Brazil—a national chain of Brazilian churrascaria steakhouses—opened in New York City I was intrigued. I forgot all about it until a few weeks ago when someone from the company reached out to invite me and a guest to a meat fest. So I put on my fat pants and made the arduous trek to the Upper East Side.
Beside each of our place settings was a paper chip, and inexplicably, a small pair of tongs. The chip’s green side read, “Sim por favor,” My dining companion, Ernesto and I flipped our markers to the red side, which read “Nao obrigado,” or “No thank you,” in Portuguese, and headed to the vast salad bar. I’ve learned from past dining experiences at the long-gone Greenfield’s Churrascaria not fill up on the salad bar. Thus I took a rather modest plate: green been salad, seared tuna, Parmigiano-Reggiano, prosciuitto, hearts of palm, gigante beans, and some caper berries.
Back at the table my pal and I tucked into our salad bar offerings. Moments after flipping our tokens to green, the first skewer bearing gaucho approached. “Bacon-wrapped filet mignon,” he offered. “Yes, don’t mind if I do.” When the next cowboy came with leg of lamb, I found out what the tongs were for. You need them to hold your slice of meat as your newfound friend carves. No sooner did I remark how good the lamb was then the carvers started to arrive in waves. Sausage, lamb chops, flank steak, parmesan crusted pork loin, and more were all soon piled high on our plates.
At some point in the middle of this meat orgy we returned to the salad bar for a bowl of feijoada. Because what you need when you’re in full carnivore mode is a black bean, sausage, and pork stew. By the time a gaucho came over with a skewer of picanha, a cut of beef rarely seen outside Brazilian steak houses, I had passed the indiscriminate eating phase and was just about to call it quits. This did not stop me from slathering some garlicky chimichurri on it and digging in.
I was somewhat ashamed not to have finished the last few slices of leg of lamb on my plate. Ernesto was remarking that much of the meat was aggressively seasoned when our waiter came over, bearing the coup de grace, a dessert platter laden with Brazilian cheesecake, crème brûlée, Brazilian flan, chocolate mousse cake, and bananas Foster pie. We split a piece of pie and a crème brûlée.
Eating at a churrascaria is the kind of experience makes me wish I was either 20 years younger, a competitive weight lifter, or better yet, both. I never quite feel up to the task. I can’t afford most steakhouses, so at $60 a pop Texas De Brazil is a pretty good deal. As steakhouses go it is certainly not the best, but one thing’s for sure it is among the top-tier of chain restaurants in New York City. And this is coming from a guy who used to drink at Applebee’s.
Texas de Brazil, 1011 3rd Avenue, 212-537-0060