Boi Na Braza
There are many different views around of what heaven is or if it even exists. I would contend that one version of heaven, or at least one version of heaven on earth, could just be Boi Na Braza (http://boinabraza.com/). A Brazilian Steakhouse, Boi Na Braza sits across the street from Fountain Square on the first floor of the building that also contains Morton’s Steakhouse on the second floor (talk about a VERY tasty structure!). In the mid 90’s, the Brazilian Steakhouse concept was launched where various types of meat are skewered and slowly roasted over fire pits. Gauchos, a name for Brazilian immigrants, are also your bringers of amazing meat in this restaurant model. It’s basically a very fancy buffet, where you get all the salad from a very nice salad bar that you can eat as well as all the meat you can possibly handle.
Boi Na Braza has a very good salad bar. It has such items as shitake mushrooms, mashed potatoes, Brazilian rice and beans, several cheeses and meats, and of course all of the standard vegetables. They also bring appetizers that include fried plantains and some delicious cheese-filled biscuits. Of course, you don’t want to fill up too much…the reason for eating at this restaurant still awaits you.
The concept of a high-end meat buffet is at first a bit unbelievable. Fifty bucks, all I can eat meat? Some might think you are going to get O’Charley’s-quality steaks brought to you. Those people would be absolutely wrong. Not only is the meat very good, it’s also extremely varied. Check out this mouth-watering list: Picanha (a special cut of rump roast that is the house specialty), rump roast with garlic, lamb chops, leg of lamb, pork ribs, top sirloin, pork loin, sausage, bottom sirloin, beef tenderloin (filet!), chicken legs, chicken breasts, beef ribs, and rib eye…it’s enough to make any meat-lover shed a tear in delight. And no, the cuts aren’t what you can get at a Jeff Ruby’s or a Morton’s, but the meat is still of good quality, and is extremely plentiful and varied. The Gauchos actually bring these meats to you on a skewer, and then cut off pieces right onto your plate. I didn’t really keep count, but I had to have had at least 8 to 10 slices of the picanha and maybe 4 nice cuts of filet mignon. Add in some lamb, rib eye, and a few other selections and I was in heaven on earth.
So how good is the meat? Again, it’s pretty darn good. The picanha is very well seasoned, and other than some fat on the outside of it, very lean. I love it. The filet mignon is nice and juicy. Like I stated earlier, you won’t feel like you are having a $250 dinner at Morton’s, but it’s a fraction of the cost and you get as much as you want. It’s better than say, Texas Roadhouse, and you get to combine it with other meats and really enjoy it. Boi Na Braza’s lamb is something that should never be overlooked. Cooked rare to medium, it is tender and has a minty flavor cooked into it that is just fantastic. We could have probably eaten 72 lamb chops if it were possible. Trust me; you have to try it, even if you aren’t big into lamb. The sausage is also good…nicely spiced and cooked to perfection. Additionally, if you or one of the people in your party doesn’t eat meat you can order the salad bar only. There’s a ton of choices on it that should satisfy most vegetarians.
I’ve seen some complaints that it’s hard to get the better meats and they tend to walk around more with the less desirable chicken skewers and less expensive cuts of steak. While that is true, you can request whatever you want. Feel like eating 4 filet mignons? Ask your server or Gaucho. They’ll bring it, and usually fairly quickly. The only hiccup on this part of the service was when we had some lamb chops coming and another diner intercepted (hijacked?) the approaching Gaucho and took 8 freaking chops. Wow. Only I should be able to do that! But, we did eventually get our lamb chops and they were worth it. Our main Gaucho, who happens to be in the below picture, was great. He brought me so much picanha he may have taken a year off my life. He also made sure we had lamb there at the end, too. My only other complaint is that they probably should change out your plates more often. I like to trim the fat off my meat, and while the cuts are usually pretty lean, by the time you’ve had 10 cuts of red meat there’s going to be a pile on your plate that reminds you of how much you’ve just pigged out. However, as long as you don’t eat too many biscuits and other carbs, you’d be surprised how not uncomfortable you are after eating all the meat. You do feel thirsty (lots of salts and other seasoning on the meats), but I didn’t feel bad, nor have I ever after enjoying an evening at Boi Na Braza.
The ambiance and location are also great. The dining area has a lot of rich, dark wood in it and plenty of windows to see the action and energy out on Fountain Square. Because of the nice location, it’s easy to get a pre-dinner drink at one of many other places (we chose Via Vite on this occasion) and take a walk Downtown after the dining is over.
Overall, I’d highly recommend you experience Boi Na Braza. It’s unique, has a great location, allows for plenty of variety in meats, and is an amazing experience. Heaven on earth, right?