I can’t believe you don’t know this already, but I love me some brazilian food. Like LOVE LOVE LOVE it. It’s one of my absolute favorites. I was lucky enough to go to brazil for 3 weeks a few years back, and I fell in love with everything about the place, especially their food. The whole country has a slightly obsessive relationship with gastronomy, and boasts so many different types of foods, from traditional to borrowed ethnic. Seriously folks, some of the best sushi I’ve ever had in my life was from brazil.
When I came back, I had to find brazilian food around here. Luckily, we have a slightly brazilian area of neighborhood in the northeast. I found this little grocery store on Castor that had some food, buffet and weigh-your-plate style. Soon after, Picanha Brazilian Grill opened, further down the street on Castor. And now, philly has super chain Fogo de Chao. If you don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for all you can eat brazilian buffet and bbq, then head over to Picanha, the non-expense account alternative.
Like the big chain counterparts, the concept is simple, but the choices are large. There is a large buffet, with a slew of different food selections, from various salads, fruits and veggies, traditional brazilian foods, meats and pountry, and some sides. Brazil boasts an incredible selection of fresh fruits and vegetables and their food reflects this. They’re big fans of heart of palm and also strangely fascinated with beets.
There was some delicious stewed meat in this buffet, as well as my staple favorite, fried plantains. Brazilians are also crazy about fresh fruit juices, so you can find pretty much anything here. While it’s not always of the fresh kind at Picanha, in brazil, it’s all about fresh squeezed juices everywhere. And it’s so damn cheap! Here at Picanha, it only costs about a dollar or two.
You can also get the meat here, which is cooked on a rotating grill. There’s no flavorings put on the meat, except for some coarse salt. The variety of meats is large, including filet, brisket, sausage, chicken, sirloin, etc. For dinner, the gauchos come around with the meats on a stick and cut off pieces for you, and you take the pieces with tongs. This place isn’t fancy, so there’s no green light red light stuff going on, but they’ll just ask you if you want some. You can also just go up and get meat yourself without waitingn for the meat stick men to come around.
There’s two ways to eat her: all-you-can-eat or weigh your plate by the pound. If you want to gorge, certainly go for the all-you-can. I usually do not. I usually do the weigh by the pound and get two full plates. And it only ends up costing $10 or so. Picanha is also a BYOB. If you bring your own cachaca, they will provide the caipirinha mix, which is pretty handy. They’re big huge glasses and they only charge a buck. That’s a bargain! Sure, Fogo de Chao is fancy and expensive, but for a more down-to-earth option, head over to Picanha in the northeast.