posted on October 28, 2010 at 7:52 am
Churrascarias get a bad rap among food snobs. Maybe it’s the guilt-inducing, all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of meats, salad bar, and gooey cheese rolls. Maybe it’s the bridge-and-tunnel clientele that frequents such establishments. Maybe it’s the lofty price. Well, this food snob is going on the record as a churrascaria fan. Unfortunately, I’m not a fan of paying $50-plus for the experience — even if the value is high. So I’ve been on a mission to find a lower-priced alternative. Many local Brazilian markets, such as Marietta’s Coisas do Brasil, sell inexpensive plates of thin steaks with beans and rice, but there’s little variety and satisfaction when you’re craving a more full-blown meat extravaganza.Porto Brasil (7887 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs, 770-390-2280) is a happy alternative. The restaurant looks like a franchise with its bright yellows and greens reminiscent of the Brazilian flag. Appearances can be deceiving, though; it’s actually an independent restaurant tucked away in a small strip mall close to the border of Sandy Springs and Roswell. Porto’s concept is simple. It provides an all-you-can-eat assortment of traditional Brazilian cuts of meats, a cold bar, a hot bar, and some desserts for $9.99 during the week and $10.99 on the weekends.
Those expecting a fancy Fogo de Chao atmosphere will be disappointed. The décor, save a few posters, is relatively spartan. The staff’s warm hospitality, however, makes up for the sparse furnishings. They’re always smiling and extremely attentive despite the self-serve setup. Porto is all about instant gratification. The minute you walk in, you can make a beeline for the buffet, grab a plate, and get to eating. The containers of hot sides hold the treasures. Fork-tender braised oxtails. Breaded and fried bananas. Corn soufflé. Kidney beans mixed with bacon. Black beans. Dried and crumbled yucca with bacon, which you sprinkle over your beans. On the cold side, there’s crunchy romaine best eaten with the lip-puckering Italian dressing that doesn’t resemble anything you’d get out of a bottle.
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