A Churrascaria (pronounced "choo-rah-scah-ree-ah") restaurant is a Brazilian style steakhouse, with a unique grilling and serving style that is fast becoming famous all over the world.
If you crave churrascaria but cannot make it to Rio de Janeiro right away, just go to United Square, to Fiesta Brasilia with sharpened incisors. Here nice looking, friendly expert passadors go round the restaurant with long skewers of grilled never ending flow of meats until you cannot eat another bite! They usually carve the meat straight onto your plate with long razor-sharp knives. Once the meat is too pink inside, they will bring the meat back to the grill for more cooking and then will bring it back again to be carved for another person and another. By the way, in case you don’t know - passadors are meat waiters in Brazilian or Argentine restaurants.
Fiesta Brasilia is a meat lover’s dream place but it also offers a wide variety of other Brazilian vegetarian friendly dishes on their buffet tables. As the passadors bring roasted large cuts of beef to the table, you can't order your steak ahead of time to be cooked rare, medium rare etc. However, you can ask the waiter to slice a cut to your liking for example I always request for the crispy part of grilled meats to be sliced onto my place and my dining companion would want hers medium rare.
While I love certain meats, the most colourful part of eating experience at Fiesta Brasilia for me is the buffet. Grab one of the white plates from the stack next to the salad bar and start loading up. Here you'll find various greens, dressing and other recognizable salad dressings. But you'll also see such things as hearts of palm, Caesar Salad, potato salad, waldorf salad, pickled beetroot, grated Parmesan cheese, cheese slices, olives, shell pasta salad with cubes of ham and more. At the hot buffet section there was Brazilian style Seafood Rice, thick omelette, an Asian gravy, grilled tomatoes and scallop potatoes.
The famous Brazilian Feijoada, a dark, deep purplish brown broth was prepared with black beans, ham, sausages and Brazilian spices was also served at Fiesta Brasilia - all supervised by the Executive Chef Auriberto Cantalice. The taste is robust, not too salty and much dominated by the flavor of black beans. A well travelled foodie friend of mine said that there are myths that this dish was originally the luxury dish of African slaves who worked on Brazilian farms during the colonial times and that it was made with the cheap cuts of meats, left over meats and salted meats at that time. And over time it apparently became the national dish of Brazil!
The grilled meats were succulent and flavorsome that you just can’t help asking for more if you are a meat fan, and you really can eat as much as you want here. We both loved the whole chicken liver and hearts. It was tender and delicately appetising when the essence of minerals exploded in my tongue. I like the sausages that had just enough spicy heat and garlic and salty to wake up my tongue. And the flank steak had that meat's characteristic grainy textures and loads of flavor and very tender. The part of the leg of lamb that I had was almost only fat. Another of my favorite was the grilled chicken rolled with bacon.
On an off, a passador brings fried bananas and this is truly a surprise especially so when out of the blue a ‘goreng pisang’ comes to your able while you are eating your meats. I love pineapples and I love it grilled and at Fiesta Brazil, you get sugar syrup painted grilled pineapples sliced at your table. Today the pineapple that I had was bit of a young bland piece. Another interesting Brazilian dish the Brazilian cheese bread – delightfully crispy on the outside, moist and very chewy on the inside, almost like a cheesy cross of popover and dinner roll. Best enjoyed immediately after it is served while still piping hot.
Your visit to Fiesta Brasilia or any Churrascaria is never complete if you have not tried the traditional Brazilian treat Caipirinha (pronounced ki-pee-ree-nya). It is a delicious refreshing drink made of lime wedges, fine sugar and cachaça (pronounced ka-sha-sa), a Brazilian beverage made of sugar cane juice. The major difference between cachaça and rum is that rum is usually made from molasses, a by-product from refineries that boil the cane juice to extract as much sugar crystals as possible and cachaça is made from fresh sugarcane juice that's fermented and distilled. At this restaurant you can have your Caiprinha made of lemon or strawberries too.
The buffet comes with ice cream and a variety of toppings and fresh fruits. I asked for Brazilian desserts and was recommended PapayaCrème and Crème de Mango. I was a bit surprise about the Papaya Crème that sort of tasted nice and I figured out how it can be done at home. Papaya has an enzyme called Papain and this helps to breakdown the fibres in red meat and is a rich source of antioxidants. The Brazilians have created a dessert that would actually speed up the digestive process in your stomach after all that meats!
The restaurant also has a menu Fiesta Jantar which has a list of grilled meat served on hot stones. I was told by the manager that most of the grilled meats on this menu are the same as the ones served by the walking passadors. The menu has Brasil Frutos Do Mar ($28.90) which is grilled mixed seafood. And another must try in this menu is Bife A Moda Fiesta ($24.90), tender beef rump cap – you can request the meat to be cooked the way you want it in terms of doness.
Fiesta Brasilia is a pretty amazing and a fantastic place to go with a group of fellow meat-eaters. You’ll probably need to detox for a week after a meal here! I noticed how loud everything was as the evening progressed. This is not a quiet relaxing restaurant, but one where you had to yell at the person next to you in order to be heard as everyone is having fun and getting high on eating meats and listening to Brazilian music.