Although I have regularly eaten Brazilian food at home during my stay in the United States, I was extremely excited to eat Brazilian barbecue at Texas de Brazil at Short Pump. The food was delicious, and I had a great experience, but a few things disappointed me.
Texas de Brazil is a buffet restaurant where you can put all the food that you want on your plate, and the waiters walk around constantly serving you meat. This is a really common type of restaurant in Brazil, but there is a difference back home. In Brazil, we spend about two hours in the restaurant, if not the entire afternoon, so we can eat slowly and enjoy our meal with nice company. At Texas de Brazil, we spent far less time eating before the waitress began asking us about dessert.
Another unfortunate discovery was that they don’t serve chicken hearts at Texas de Brazil, which I’ve been craving since I got in the United States. Saying that I enjoy eating chicken hearts may sound odd to the American palate, but it is a very common and delicious traditional meat that every Brazilian barbecue has. It made me very upset to find out that Texas de Brazil didn’t have them. When I asked the American waitress about those, she looked at me surprised and explained to me that she had never heard of such a thing, and that she would guess that if they had chicken hearts on their menu people wouldn’t appreciate it. I understand that eating chicken hearts seems awful to some people, and that’s why in Brazil we have a euphemism for them: “little hearts.” Though that doesn’t make it much less awkward.
I could have some other complaints, like how the waitress talked so fast, for example, that I couldn’t understand a single word that she said during the entire dinner. Also, it took a while until the waiters served the meat to our table, and even so, they only came after we called them. I finished my rice and beans plate before having my first piece of meat, which made me feel very stressed about the delay.
But after the waiters had finally started to come to our table, I forgot about the upsetting beginning of the dinner and enjoyed my traditional Brazilian meal: rice, black beans (though I’m more used to eating brown beans back in Brazil), farofa (a flour mixture) and Picanha (beef sirloin). It tasted like home.
When it came to dessert time, I was surprised to find out that they don’t have many traditional Brazilian desserts, like Pudim (a condensed milk pudding) or doce de leite (a sweet concoction of milk and sugar). But I was happy to eat their delicious chocolate cake, which, even though I was extremely full, I don’t regret having. They also had various types of cake and papaya cream.
In the end, I left Texas de Brazil satisfied with the evening. Even though there were some disappointments, I was not expecting it to not be pure Brazilian experience. The food, especially the meat, tasted incredibly good, and the atmosphere was pleasant and quiet – very different from Brazilian restaurants, whether the fanciest or the more homey, will always be extremely loud.
Photos by Mariana Cavalcanti de Castro, unless otherwise noted.