There are only so many cases of the ‘meat sweats’ that I can endure, so this isn’t a comprehensive review of each Brazilian Churrascaria in Houston.
Several new concepts have entered the Houston market, but there is one so far that’s maintained a level of quality and consistency that’s always worth the price of admission when you are craving an over indulgence of red meat.
In 2008 João Carlos Ongaratto opened his first location in San Antonio after several years with Fogo de Chao.
While Houston has it’s own Fogo de Chao location which is still holding strong and is flanked by Texas de Brazil in City Center and the newly expanded Highland Village location of Gauchos du Sol; Chama Gaucho stands tall among its contemporaries.
I have eaten at all of the above restaurants and they all offer rodizio style service, elaborate salad bars and wide selections of wine and cocktails.
Rodizio style is where all-you-can-eat meat is paraded around on skewers from table to table where you can accept or decline at will until you pass out.
Each restaurant offers a high level of service with several layers of waitstaff attending to every detail of your experience.
So what sets Chama Gaucha apart if they all offer more or less similar experiences?
I’d have to say it is the flavor of their meat.
This can be attributed to it being cooked on mesquite wood, where Gauchos du Sol prepares their meat on a gas grill, Texas de Brazil uses natural wood charcoal and Fogo de Chao uses ‘wood’, per their information line.
Red meat is one of those dishes where the less you do with it, the more you get out of it. There is nothing worse than heavily seasoned, over cooked red meat.
So when I am craving meat, I want quality cuts with just enough heat applied to draw out the hearty flavors dripping with natural juices.
The gentle seasoning of Chama Gaucho’s meat selection infused with the aromatic smoke of mesquite wood makes for the perfect execution of flavor.
You can ask them for rare to well done, but none of that matters if the flavor isn’t there to begin with, and this is where Chama Gaucha separates from the pack.
As far as the overall dining environment, Texas de Brazil and Gauchos du Sol offer a contemporary aesthetic to their dining halls, while Fogo de Chao and Chama Gaucha have a traditional steakhouse look and feel.
None of these restaurants are ultra formal, you can certainly host a formal dinner at each location, but you can also arrive in casual attire with stretchy pants and all.
Having said all of that, I will be going back to Chama Gaucha in short order here and if you have been or plan to go, I’d love to hear your feedback on what you think.