With the 2016 Summer Olympics in full swing, Rio is on everyone's mind. If you can't jet off to Brazil to enjoy the games and the local flavors, try these three Brazilian restaurants in Chicago: Texas de Brazil, Brazil Legal and Sinhá.
Texas de Brazil // 210 E Illinois St
Located just off the Mag Mile, Texas de Brazil is an upscale, contemporary Brazilian churasscuria, a.k.a. steakhouse, where the waiters, dressed in traditional ranch-style gaucho gear, carve dozens of slow-cooked, flame-grilled meats table-side. Every diner receives a paper disc: if you'd like more meat, keep your disk turned to the the green "Go!" side; the red side means "Stop! I'm full!" This is a restaurant that you'll want to arrive at with a very empty stomach.
The over-the-top, all-you-can-eat salad bar, included in the prix fixe dinner, features dozens of hot and cold accompaniments. Waiters will also bring warm cheese popovers, known as pão de queijo, garlic mashed potatoes, and pan friend sweet plantains to your table as well. Plan on toasting your winning Olympic athlete over caipirinhas, the national drink of Brazil: Texas de Brazil prepares their caipirinhas with fresh ingredients including passion fruit and strawberries at the bustling bar.
If you want to learn more about the churrasco tradition, Evandro Caregnato, the Culinary Director of Texas De Brazil, just published a new cookbook titled CHURRASCO: Grilling The Brazilian Way. "My earliest memories of childhood are filled with the smell of the charcoal burning in the grill, and sizzling meat," says Caregnato. "Churrasco is all about family and friends gathering to share a meal and enjoy themselves."
Brasil Legal // 2161 N Western Ave
Part grocery store, part fast casual eatery, Brasil Legal is where Chicago's Brazilian-American community comes to stock up on all their favorite ingredients and treats. Small but packed with just about every Brazilian delicacy you can think of, including a fine selection of cheeses, candies, cookies, cakes and other hard-to-find ingredients, plan on doing a little bit of shopping and a lot of eating at this one-of-a-kind expat outpost.
Savory sandwiches are made fresh on the spot and pair perfectly with a nice selection of offbeat Brazilian sodas. The made to order empanadas are to die for, and every weekend, the eatery offers a traditional feijoada, a.k.a. a black bean and meat stew.
Sinhá // 2018 W Adams St
Housed in a turn-of-the-century brick home on the near west side, Sinhá (Seen-yah'), which means "lady of the house", offers a one-of-a-kind Brazilian dining experience. Born, raised, and educated in Brazil, chef Jorgina Pereira began a small-scale catering business before opening this charming restaurant of her very own.
The staff here wears baianas, native, flowing lacy dresses popularized in 1940's Carmen Miranda films, while genuine Brazilian musicians play the samba and bossa nova tunes everyone loves, transporting guests directly to Brazil via Chicago. But it's the food here, all housemade with love, that makes Sinhá so authentically Brazilian.
You'll find all your favorites on the menu, from fish stew to feijoada to farofa. Sinhá is open Tuesday-Friday for brunch/lunch and offers a wonderful Brazilian brunch every Sunday, with two seatings at 2 & 4 p.m.