Coming to Porto Alegre and not indulging in the sublime melt-in-your-mouth cuts of Pampas-raised beef is akin to traveling to Japan and never partaking in sushi. Flaunting the convention of swank superchurrascarias with their vast cavernous dining rooms, Portoalegrense (Av. Pará 913, São Geraldo, tel. 51/3343-2767, www.churrascariaportoalegrense.com.br, 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m. and 7:30–11 p.m. Mon.–Sat., closed in Feb., R$12–20) is a simple, traditional family-run restaurant in a large, rustically furnished house where the focus is all on the meat. Delicious picanha (rump cut), costelas (spare ribs), and costeletas de carneiro (lamb chops) are particularly reputed.
Equally traditional is Barranco (Av. Protásio Alves 1578, Petrópolis, tel. 51/3331-6172, www.churrascariabarranco.com.br, 11 a.m.–2 a.m. daily, R$20–30). In a given month, some 15,000 local carnivores devour 8,000 tons of prime cuts of beef, pork, and lamb. The best seats are those scattered beneath a shady canopy of jacarandas that is particularly alluring during the city’s scorching summer months. For dessert, try the delicious pudim de laranja (orange pudding).
Those craving variety should head to Na Brasa (Rua Ramiro Barcelos 389, Floresta, tel. 51/3225-2205, 11:30 a.m.–3 p.m. and 7 p.m.–midnight Mon.–Fri., 11:30 a.m.–midnight Sat.–Sun., R$35 pp), where both classic and more exotic cuts—ostrich, quail, and javali (wild boar)—are served rodízio style. The salad buffet features a range of fine cheeses, sun-dried tomatoes, and artichoke hearts along with traditional regional side dishes.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition