Newly renovated and very chic, Portland’s traditional Brazilian churrascaria, Brazil Grill, has just reopened. With a hip new cocktail lounge and signature cocktails to match, along with new lighting and decor, this eatery serves up traditional meats (and even pineapple) on a skewer for an all-you-can-eat price.
In 2006, the original Brazil Grill opened in Portland and was the first to serve the rodízio style (grilled over an open flame) meats. Tender fillets, lamb, delicious Picanha, shrimp and more, including a salad bar and a hot bar serving up authentic Brazilian sides like traditional black beans and rice are offered each day starting at opening time in the late afternoon.
A traditional rodízio restaurant refers to a Brazilian-style steakhouse restaurant. Customers pay a fixed price (preço fixo), and waiters bring samples of food to each customer at several times throughout the meal, until the customers signal that they have had enough. At Brazil Grill, you signal to the waitstaff that you are ready for more by turning over a disc on the table from red (no more, please) to green for yes, please! And once you turn the disc, the waitstaff will be there with food on a skewer and huge carving knives to offer you the next item hot off the grill.
The Brazil Grill Experience
You’ll want to sit back and get ready for a unique dining experience. Order a local Oregon wine to pair with your grilled meats and request a selection of bread. I enjoyed the garlic bread, served with mayo, garlic and dry oregano, fresh from the oven.
It is the waitstaff, dressed in gaucho attire all the way down to heavy black riding boots, that makes the experience special. They’ll bring you the whole skewer of grilled delights and carve slices off for you to add to your plate. It’s always best to try what they bring, but once you find your favorite, ask for more slices and they will oblige with a smile and a Brazilian accent.
Brazil Grill provides a slow-paced fine dining experience. You can dress casually or dress up for an evening on the town. Theaters are nearby.
Enjoy Being Surprised
There will be plenty of surprises. You might expect the steak and lamb, but when a skewer of chicken hearts arrived, we had to try them. I later found out that grilled chicken hearts are a favorite dish of gauchos, the cowboys of Argentina and Brazil. They cook quickly and, according to the story, often don’t make it past the grill master who enjoys them as a treat while cooking.
Another first for me was the delicious sirloin, glazed with yellow mustard and kosher salt. When you are served your meats, the staff will ask you if you like well done, medium or rare and then carve them accordingly.
Another surprise, this one very sweet, was a grilled pineapple on a skewer with a crusty, brown sugar and cinnamon exterior and sweet juicy interior. It is a “must-have,” at some point in your meal. And, I found out, they grow pineapples in Brazil in the area where the grilled meats are popular. In fact, botanists say that pineapple originated in the Americas, most likely in the region where Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil meet, and not, as I assumed, in Hawaii.
After sampling all the meats and the shrimp, too, I have to say my favorite was the picanha, known as the “king of churrasco” in Brazil. This beef cut from the top sirloin (sometimes called the culotte) is grilled with just enough fat left on the meat to make it super tender and tasty. And, the traditional beans and rice were a perfect side for the meats.
Most of what we tasted and savored was light on the seasoning and heavy on the natural flavor. I must add, that for a lower price, Brazil Grill offers a vegetarian option. So everyone will find something to enjoy.
Of course, we had to sample a dessert. While flan is traditional, the white chocolate strawberry tiramisu sounded too good to pass up so we indulged. It was a delightful end to a sumptuous dinner of meats, salads, and sides (all included in the price).
When You Go to Brazil Grill
Brazil Grill is located in Century Plaza at 1201 SW 12th Ave, Portland, OR. There is some free parking to the rear of the restaurant. Located in Portland’s downtown Arts District, Brazil Grill is the ideal place for a before or after show dinner. The hours are Monday through Friday from 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 3:30 to 9:30 p.m. For more ideas on things to see and do in Oregon enjoy our Oregon articles by Wander writers.
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with a complimentary meal for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.