Kid-friendly steaks at Texas de Brazil in Chicago

Meat, meat and more meat. That’s the bottom line on the menu at the popular Texas de Brazil churrascaria (steak house), but it’s not the whole story. In fact, the menu is based on the history of Brazilian Gauchos (cowboys) preparing and providing a feast for their families. Beyond the food on the plate, a trip to Texas de Brazil is a complete, and very filling, dining experience.

Our experience at the Chicago location began with a warm welcome from our server, who explained the preparation of the meat and the process for service. We had a perfect view of the beautiful acrobat in charge of retrieving wine bottles while suspended on a sort of trapeze-very entertaining. My sons were excited to have their own paddles, which basically alert the Gaucho-costumed servers when you’re ready for the meat, which is sliced off skewers right at the table.

But before we turned our paddles to green, we made our way to the enormous salad bar. Really, “salad bar” doesn’t do justice to the selection of seasonal ingredients, meats, cheeses, olives, rice and beans. Since the restaurant does not offer a traditional menu of entrees, this is where customers can customize their meals. My sons chose carefully, even trying some new dishes.

Then it was time for the main event. The restaurant offers a huge variety of beef, pork and poultry. As soon as we indicated “go,” we were inundated with Gauchos offering bacon-wrapped chicken, flank steak, leg of lamb, Brazilian sausages, the house-special Picanha-the list goes on and on. All the meats are slow-roasted over an open-flame grill. By the time we had sampled everything once, I wasn’t sure I could handle seconds of my favorites, but I managed more flank steak-delicious.

After the meat fest, neither my husband nor I could even consider the delicious-looking dessert tray, but my 8-year-old devoured an entire piece of chocolate mousse cake, which he deemed the “perfect finish.”

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