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Meat Unlimited: Churrascaria for Beginners

Ashleigh Pursell, Elite Yelper and self-professed meat lover, gives us her take on the endless meat parade that we call Churrascaria.

Meat. Unlimited, perfectly cooked, well-seasoned, meat. That’s what we go to a Brazilian steak house for.

Not the salad, and not the sides. It’s really all about the meat. We don’t come to see men balletically dancing between the tables in their funny pants as they deliver succulent morsels to our plates. We come here for the meat, though the cheese bread balls are such a close second in my book that you might just see them mentioned in here again.

There are four prominent Brazilian Steak Houses in the Atlanta Area: Fogo de Chao, Sal Grosso, Fire of Brazil and the Red and Green Brazilian Steakhouse. They have the signature cuts that you will find at every Brazilian Steakhouse: Filet Mignon wrapped in Bacon, Picanha (Rump Roast at one place, Top Sirloin at another), Rib Eye, Top Sirloin (or I guess Rump Roast), Bottom Sirloin, Beef Ribs, Lamb Chops, Chicken Legs, Pork Loin, Leg of Lamb, Chicken Breast Wrapped in Bacon and Pork ribs. A staggering list that may vary from place to place; some have this meat and others have that, but you see what I mean, and the variety is only paralleled by the quantity.

Fogo de Chao is the fanciest of the list. Located in Buckhead, it serves as a go to place to take clients from out of town, and as a place for very special occasions for we locals. It’s kind of expensive, so you’ll hear fathers tell their children that they “had better not fill up on the salad bar and cheese balls.” Here all the Gauchos wear the winged pants, and it makes them easy to spot when you need a refill. Of meat. There’s a wall of wine, and it can feel disrespectful if you don’t order at least a glass of Shiraz to accompany your meat on meat on meat meal. Fogo has a great salad bar and are famed for their cheese balls (I told you they might get another mention). At Fogo, all hot side offerings are brought to your table.

Sal Grosso and Fire of Brazil are the next fanciest and the drill is much the same at each place: Both serve the convention/business crowd, but one does it Downtown and one does it in Marietta. Similar salad bars, similar wines, similar that some of the Gauchos are in the pants and some are not. Some have the customary chambray shirt and some do not. The best bottom sirloin I have had in my life was at Sal Grosso… but their selection of hot sides pales in comparison to Fogo’s.

The least fancy (but best bang for your all-meat buck), is the Red and Green Steakhouse on Buford Highway. It almost has the feel of a Chinese buffet, the meats are well prepared, the staff is friendly and knowledgeable, and (best of all) the cheese puff balls rival that of Fogo’s. It’s the go to Brazilian steakhouse on Buford Highway. If I woke up with a meat craving that needed to be fed, and I wasn’t out to impress family or clients, that’s where I’d go.