Recently, churrascaria or Brazilian steakhouses in the U.S. have become popular due to the rodizio-style dining where customers pay a fixed price and waiters bring samples of various meats until the customer signals they are full.
However, it’s more than just the sizzling steak. The churrascaria has ingrained itself in the history of Brazil’s culture and is clearly seen in the town of Nova Brescia, home to a huge statue of a gaucho cooking meat in the plaza.
Beginning in the 1800’s at the Rio Grande Do Sul region in Southern Brazil, gauchos –cowboys- prepared meat for their communities after herding cattle on ranches. Their cooking technique was called “churrasco” and involved placing skewers of meat over an open flame with natural wood charcoal. Traditionally, the meat was coated in coarse salt and roasted for 30 minutes to enhance the flavor.
In the 1940’s, the popularity of churrascarias really took off and started popping up in Brazil’s cities and neighborhoods.
Flash forward 50 some-odd years to the late 1990’s and this same meat-loving craze starts to hit the U.S. with the opening of Fogo de Chao in Dallas. What once started as cowboys around the fire found its way to an updated dining experience in the U.S. that was more upscale with elegant dining rooms and crystal glasses. Rodizio-style dining and the variety of meats such as picanha (sirloin cap), fraldinha (flank steak), and filet mignon as its base appealed to customers who liked the idea of being able to pay a fixed price.
What’s interesting is that even the U.S. Brazilian steakhouse concept is an adaptation of sorts from its traditional neighborhood Brazilian churrascaria counterpart.
Traditional churrascarias in Brazil are more casual, with a neighborhood hang-out feel, while those in America have adopted a formal and modern system. For example, at Galeto Brazilian Steakhouse located in Oakland, California, the setting includes a stone façade, globe light fixtures, and a black granite countertop bar. An upscale churrascaria like Galeto provides a comfortable but high-end group dining experience.
Design plays an important part in delivering this authentic and high-end experience to diners, incorporating a wood-fire grill that was imported directly from Brazil.
The layout of Galeto’s space with a food and salad bar at its center creates ambiance and an inviting, yet efficient, dining experience. The staff also finds a great deal of benefit by using this concept as a way to keep up with the flow of customers.
At Galeto, the community dining experience in an authentically Brazilian churrascaria is further accentuated by the tile floor and brick wall.
At Galeto, Fogo de Chao, and other modern churrascarias like them, it’s apparent why this restaurant concept in the U.S. has seen rapid growth, having been transformed from its humble origin as a community feast prepared by gauchos.
The churrascaria is a perfect fit for the average U.S. restaurant consumer who cares first about the experience and then about the food. Here you get both with a unique blend of adventure and an authentic taste of another culture that has stood the test of time.