The Traditional Dining Style You'll Find At A Brazilian Steakhouse

slicing meat at brazilian steakhouse
slicing meat at brazilian steakhouse - rocharibeiro/Shutterstock

Ever hesitated before making a reservation at a Brazilian steakhouse like Fogo de Chão, Texas de Brazil, or another one of the 17 best Brazilian steakhouses in the U.S. because you didn't know what to expect or much about the dining style? First, there are 12 things you should know before eating at a Brazilian steakhouse for the first time. Then, it's time to dive into the finer details and etiquette of rodízio-style dining at a Brazilian steakhouse. In Portuguese, rodízio means "rotation" or "turn." At a Brazilian steakhouse, rodízio is a style of service, or "skewer run," where servers (or gaúchos) carve cuts of freshly cooked meat off a Brazillian skewer at your table and deliver it straight to your plate.

Most of the time, it's an all-you-can-eat experience, and for first-timers, it can feel overwhelming when too much meat comes at once and your plate is still full. That's where the two-sided cards at the table come into play. Flip the card with the green side facing up to signal to the gaúchos that you'd like more meat. Flip to the red side to take a break from eating. The servers will skip bringing meat to you until you flip the card back to the green side. Also, you can always say no to a cut of meat you don't want to eat. And, if your cut of meat is too rare or well-done, you can ask for another cut.

Read more: The Most Popular Cuts Of Steak Ranked Worst To Best

Brazilian Steakhouses Are A Billion-Dollar Industry

brazilian steakhouse fogo de chao
brazilian steakhouse fogo de chao - Noam Galai/Getty Images

While it is difficult to pinpoint the exact originator of the rodízio dining style, the concept began in southern Brazil and became popular in the mid-20th century. What initially started as a way to feed Brazil's truck drivers and construction workers with cheap and easy grilled meats has now boomed into a market worth billions in the U.S. Fogo de Chão, the largest Brazilian steakhouse chain in America, founded in 1979 in South Brazil, landed a $1.1 billion deal with Bain Capital in 2023, as Reuters reported. According to Growjo, Texas de Brazil makes about $282.5 million annually.

The appeal of Brazillian steakhouse's rodízio dining style goes beyond the rotation of freshly cooked and fire-roasted meats. Aside from barbecued and grilled meats, there are at least 12 dishes you need to try at a Brazilian steakhouse. Brazilian steakhouses offer all-you-can-eat meats and a buffet. Fogo de Chão, for example, offers a market table and feijoada bar with amazing selections such as salads, rice, soup, cured meats, cheeses, and cold cuts of meats. Texas de Brazil has a similar offering, including shrimp salad, made-in-house dressings, and couscous. Chima Steakhouse, another popular Brazilian steakhouse chain in the U.S., offers sliders and burgers as appetizers at the bar.

Brazilian Steaks, Buffets, And Beyond

buffet table at brazilian steakhouse
buffet table at brazilian steakhouse - G01xm/Getty Images

If you think that's it regarding food offerings at a Brazilian steakhouse, the servers will also bring sides you can't find at the buffet or salad table to your dining table to accompany your meal. These sides may include warm, chewy, cheesy rolls: pão de queijo or Brazillian cheese bread. Additionally, you may be served mashed potatoes and sweet, caramelized bananas.

Drinks other than water are not included in your fixed-price meal, so account for that if you order a cocktail or wine. Finally, you will also have to pay separately for desserts. Desserts may include pies, chocolate cakes, crème brûlée, or tres leches, a popular Latin American cake.

Finally, for those who want to splurge, at some Brazilian steakhouses, there may be additional appetizers and entrees to purchase a la carte, such as shrimp cocktails or higher-quality, premium cuts of meat, like a whole dry-aged tomahawk ribeye for you and your company to enjoy. Dining at a Brazilian steakhouse is truly an unforgettable experience. From your very first visit -- with its inviting ambiance, exceptional service, and a vast selection of delectable dishes -- you'll likely find yourself eagerly planning your next reservation.

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