Feed Your Inner Cowboy


The Free Lance Star 


A chain with more than 40 locations, including some in the Caribbean, Texas de Brazil Churrascaria  came highly recommended by several readers.

Churrascaria, a real mouthful,  is a Spanish word that translates roughly as “a place where they prepare grilled meat,” like how the gauchos used to do it.

My wife and I went for Sunday brunch recently to the Short Pump location, ready to get our cowboy on at the fixed-price, all-you-can-eat restaurant where “gauchos” carve spit-grilled meat  right at the table.

Short Pump Town Center,  a lovely, well-manicured outdoor shopping area, is  pretty upscale. Just three words—or maybe two, I can never remember—will give you an idea of the clientele there: Pottery Barn Kids.

All I know is,  Short Pump has got not only a gourmet chocolatier but  a Williams–Sonoma cookware shop. Enough said.  After getting a gander at the mall’s enticing window displays, my wife said she couldn’t wait to go bathing-suit shopping.

At Texas de Brazil, we were greeted warmly before being led to our table amid the restaurant’s lush interior,  strains of loungy bossa nova music, open  grilling area and  polished wood floors you could dance a tango on.

Our server, Dillon, who hailed from the Netherlands, was upfront about why he  continually stared off in the direction of the bar’s flat-screen: He needed to keep an eye on the Mexico–Holland World Cup soccer match, he said. However, the service was so good, we felt spoiled. Dillon and the other gauchos kept checking back with us to see if there was anything  we needed, especially in the grilled meat department. I would have liked it if the “leg of lamb guy” had simply camped out at our table, but that’s just me.

The restaurant’s manager came by  to see how we were enjoying our meal. I told him  it was akin to  the dim sum experience, where you signal your readiness and carts loaded with food seem to appear at once from every direction. With their long knives and gaucho pants and boots, the churrascaria’s servers resembled “Pirates of the Caribbean” and sometimes swarming piranhas that instead of pursuing meat were brandishing it.

“A parade of gluttony?” offered the manager.  With evocative phrase-making like that,  he really ought to  consider moonlighting as a restaurant critic.

Besides the lamb, the perfectly grilled meats included bacon-wrapped chicken, pork, sausage, flank steak and Brazilian picanha (top sirloin cap), 16 cuts altogether  for dinner, but a pared-down selection for brunch.

A bit of advice: Tempting though they may be, try not to fill up on the scrumptious fried bananas, garlic mashed potatoes and cheese rolls that accompany the meal.

There’s also a hot bar with lobster bisque, black bean soup, rice and potatoes au gratin,  as well as a 50-item-plus salad bar—including fresh mozzarella, roasted red peppers,  sun-dried tomatoes, hearts of palm, shaved Parmesan,  chilled asparagus spears and pineapple carpaccio—that alone is worth the price of admission.

The manager  later returned  to ably describe to us each of the eatery’s seemingly innumerable delectable confections. I wonder if the chain has considered a brand extension—a Texas de Brazil Pasteleria where vaqueros  slice pieces of the many desserts tableside. One can only hope!

As we  enjoyed coffee with our crème brûlée and chocolate mousse cake, I asked my partner if she was  ready to look at bathing suits.

More like time for Godiva shopping, she said.

What: Texas de Brazil Churrascaria

Address: Short Pump Town Center, 11800 W. Broad St.,  Richmond; two other Virginia locations

Info: 804/750-2003; texasdebrazil.com

Hours:   Dinner: 5–9 p.m. Monday–Thursday; 5–10 p.m. Friday; 4:30–10 p.m. Saturday; 4–9 p.m. Sunday. Lunch: noon–3 p.m. Saturday–Sunday

Prices: Lunch: $24.99; salad area: $19.99; Dinner: $42.99; salad area: $24.99; (Prices do not include tax, tip, beverage, dessert.)

The Scoop:  Fixed-price Brazilian eatery features all-you-can-eat grilled meat, plus an inviting salad bar.