Best Brazilian restaurant options in L.A.
Most Brazilian barbecues supplement good meat with carelessly prepared side dishes that are an obvious afterthought. Fogo de Chao is different: the beautiful salad bar and the buffet are both full of fine cold dishes made with premium ingredients. This is the priciest churrascaria in L.A. but by far the best, aided by its exceptional South American wine list.
Launched by a mother-and-daughters trio, this Brazilian truck has been bringing the carnival to the streets for the past several years. Start off with the crisp, empanada-like ground beef pastel and consider sharing the potent garlic fries with parmesan. For a heartier option, go for the grilled steak bauru with caramelized onions, melted mozzarella, pickles and tomatoes on a fluffy, toasted roll. On the sweeter side, check out the banana and Nutella pastel. Keep an eye on their Twitter feed to keep up with the party.
Silvio's Brazilian BBQ is your destination for real Brazilian "Backyard style BBQ" with a Southern California twist. Located just steps from the sand on the Hermosa Beach Pier, Silvio's uses freshly grilled meats and seafood's to make a variety of delicious BBQ sandwiches, fresh salads, plates and rice bowls—or have them come to you since they do catering as well. Their caesar salad with grilled lettuce and chicken with salsa on top is a must-try. Wash it all down with their popular specialty drink, hand-shaken Caipiroska's, made with assorted fresh fruit (we prefer the strawberry one) muddled with a little cane sugar, then shaken on the rocks with vodka—but be careful because their a lot stronger than you think.
Many people swear the picanha at M Grill is better than anything you’ll eat at any Brazilian restaurant in L.A., Fogo de Chão included. Whether or not that’s true is up to you, but there’s no debate that M Grill is an undefeated AYCE option with a much smaller price tag. The fixed price menu ($26.99 lunch; $46.99 dinner) offers 19 different cuts of lamb, beef and pork hand carved in front of diners by waiters onto each plate. A salad buffet complete with over 40 options for vegetarians is also available ($22.99 lunch; $28.99 dinner). Wine lovers will swoon at their selection containing more than 3,000 bottles, but the main focus at this steakhouse is, of course, the meat.
A place that caters to students is never a bad thing, especially when it means high-quality food at prices that students can afford. Mesa is right on point with the bowl trend, serving laid-back and unpretentious Brazilian rice bowls (nope, not Açaí) for under $10. You can do steak, chicken, or “chick’n” (soy, wheat and peas) over rice with black beans, sauteed collard greens, fried plantains and salsa. Cheese bread is an obvious addition.
If you seek huge portions without the full on all-you-can-eat atmosphere, this is where you need to be. The menu is oddly gigantic, offering items like pizza, pasta and burgers, but specialty grill plates are where Bossa Nova shines. Choose from multiples types of chicken, seafood and steak, all marinated in Brazilian herbs and spices and served with salsa, farofa and your choice of three sides (you’ll want beans, rice and plantains). Make sure you have hot sauce with that.
Looking to break away from the heavy meats and plantain-laden Brazilian standards? Look no further than Bella Vista, a pizzeria that specializes in fresh pies made with Brazilian ingredients. You will see mashup-style pizzas like the Palmito, with hearts of palm, mozzarella, green olives and oregano, as well as sweet pizzas like the Brigadeiro Com Morango, made with chocolate, condensed milk and strawberries. There are more than 30 different flavors of pizzas. If you're having trouble deciding which to order, go with the Rodízio Style (AYCE), where servers bring different flavors of pizza and you just decide which ones to try.
Probably the trendiest of all of L.A.’s Brazilian joints is WoodSpoon, a rustic DTLA restaurant serving clean, creative and tasty Brazilian comfort food. Its Costelinha com conjiquinha, or pork short rib with corn grits, is delicious; somehow light and delicate while also heavy and satisfying. You can find dozens of gems on WoodSpoon’s menu, but you’d be remiss not to try the Brazilian chicken pot pie, made with hearts of palm, olives and roasted corn. And yes, they do brunch.
Thanks to a fiercely loyal following, Cafe Brasil has been a local fave since the '90s, serving authentic Brazilian fare by a Sao Paulo-trained chef. People swear by the empanadas, plantain, and, especially, the feijoada—a spicy stew made with slow cooked pork, poured over black beans and rice, and plated next to some farofa and collard greens. Cafe Brasil’s Executive Lunch (with your choice of sirloin, fish, chicken, a pork chop, or veggies and served with rice, beans, plantains, and salsa) is also one of L.A.’s best lunch plates. And at $10.50, one of L.A.’s most affordable, too.
This Brazilian street food spot in the Pico-Union neighborhood serves all kinds of homemade comfort food, primarily fritzes—rectangular, fried pouches filled with meat, veggies, cheese and a host of other fresh ingredients. Some take on an international flair, like the Bulgogi Fritz, stuffed with marinated beef, bell peppers and onions. Hungry for a hot dog instead? Squartfritz makes some incredible versions, including the Doughie Dog: a dog wrapped in mozzarella and sprinkled with oregano, then fried in a pastry dough.