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Nov 24, 2008 08:47 AM

Day 78: Brazilian food at Brasa Brasil Grill in Culver City

Day 78: Brazil

My first taste of Brazilian culture came from watching the movie Only the Strong when I was a kid. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a movie about a former Green Beret who comes back home to Miami and somehow starts teaching Capoeira, the Brazilian dance/martial art, at a high school that’s overrun with violence and drugs. Of course, it starts to help the students handle their emotions, build up self confidence and stop shooting people. But it also manages to become the only thing in the world that has ever infuriated parents and teachers as well as the local drug lord. I don’t totally remember the end, but I think the good guy won and Capoeira was involved. But as you can probably guess, it didn’t particularly inspire me to get too interested in Brazilian culture. But then I heard about churrascarias and that changed everything.

A churrascaria is basically a rotisserie style Brazilian meat restaurant. That’s great as it is, but when you make it a rodizio as well, that means that you pay a set price to eat as much as you possibly can, while men walk around carrying swords skewered with meat. For carnivores, it’s possibly the greatest thing in the world, and at Brasa Brasil Grill in Culver City (which is dangerously close to my home), you get a pretty good version for the amazingly low price of around fifteen bucks a person. Once seated, Mr. Meatball tries to order a Brazilian beer, but is told they don’t serve alcohol. However, luck is on our side tonight as our new friend Abba (who cooked the spectacular meal for Bahrain Day) arrives with a bottle of wine. “I come here all the time,” she says. “All the places in this strip mall let you bring your own wine.” We head up to the fairly extensive salad bar (which even has a hot food section), where I load up on cheese rolls, rice, pork beans, beets, soup, pasta salad and my one true addiction: hearts of palm. Hearts of palm, a vegetable extracted from a palm tree, has been best described by our old friend and early Man Bites World eater, Ultimate Manilow, who called them “artichoke heart string cheese”. The version here is made worse by a not-so-great vinaigrette, but I still manage to shovel down an unhealthy amount of them.

Still working our way through the respectable salad bar and airy, fluffy cheese rolls, we are offered our first meat: small, crispy, juicy pork sausages. And the hits just keep on coming. Sirloin, tri-tip, chicken, pork loin, bacon wrapped chicken…I’m in a very good place right now. Most of the food is very well spiced, but since the restaurant isn’t very full tonight, you have to assume some of the meat has been kept warm— meaning you have to keep an eye out for over cooked beef. But I’ve been asking for the rarest of the rare and have been getting some pretty nice, bloody slices of dead cow meat which go really well with Abba’s robust red wine. Mr. Meatball, staying true to his name, has been doing championship-caliber work here today, devouring an impressive quantity and array of meats. GirlfriendBites is sticking to salad bar and chicken, and luckily the fowl is cooked perfectly, with a crispy, golden and crackling skin. Some cuts come out a lot better than others, a few of the salad bar options should be avoided (hello, fish), but at fifteen bucks a person, how can you possibly complain?

As I take pictures, the meat skewering server says “Oh, if you want to take pictures, I will bring you a better piece of meat.” We sort of forget about it, keep eating and then get really, really full. But just then, the server returns with a huge and daunting hunk of sizzling cow. “Now you take a picture,” he says. I do, then Abba, Mr. Meatball and I decide that we have no option but to try some of this beautiful meat. He cuts a slice, I take it with table-side tongs and set it on my plate, then watch as the blood pools in the center of this gorgeous, red bovine with its blackened, herb crust. Now that’s how you finish off a meal.

We sip assorted espresso based beverages, giving ourselves a moment to digest as our friend Bex pops by, who had been trying to make it for dinner, but got stuck at work. “I brought ice cream from Scoops for dessert!” she says, as we all laugh, then hold our stomachs in pain. In the end, GFB and I take it home, knowing it’ll be a few hours (or days) before we’ve got room for it— since there is, I’m quite certain, an entire animal inside of my stomach. I also think the animal may have come back to life and is now eating all my hearts of palm.

Food Breakdown: 4 all-you-can-eat, 1 bottle of wine (brought by Abba), 3 caffeinated beverages
Price: $88
Distance From My House: 0.8 miles

Brasa Brasil Grill
10022 Venice Blvd, Culver City, CA 90232

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  1. It's a great place but way too dangerous to one arterial health to live close to. ;-D Nice review and the price is unbelievably low when you consider the sheer volume and quality of the food. Thanks for your review.

    1. i gotta agree, brasa brasil is a great bang for the buck. i actually like the fish, perhaps it was an off day for that particualr item?

      btw, did they charge you corkage?

      8 Replies
      1. re: wilafur

        Can't remember. But if so it wasn't very much at all.

        1. re: noahbites

          i live right by and go to fogo de chao which is 34 at lunch 50 at dinner. i dont think the culver city place is 15 all day. isnt that just certain hours? if not..count me in! how is the meat? comparable to places more expensive?

          1. re: feedthebelly

            brasa brasil is $17 or 18pp for dinner. the meat is decent, but fogo has better cuts. i like brasa brasil for the value.

            1. re: feedthebelly

              Wilafur is correct, Brasa is $17 or $18 for dinner and around $14 or $15 for lunch. Same great quality at lunchtime, just a smaller selection of meats. Brasa is wonderful if you let them know as soon as you sit down that you prefer rare/medium rare meat. There's no corkage.

              Pampas Grill on Overland near Venice is a pay-by-the-pound place offering 30% off between 3 and 6pm daily. They are less accommodating when it comes to one's preferred doneness of meat and will usually try to sell out of the more well done meats first.

              1. re: hrhboo

                Is Pampas Grill the place in the old outdoor mall where the newish CPK - (order at the register and they bring your food to you) place is?

                1. re: Servorg

                  Yeah. In that same complex on Venice with the Best Buy, etc.

                2. re: hrhboo

                  last time i went to brasa brasil (6-7wks ago), they charged us corkage.

                  1. re: wilafur

                    aha. thats right. brasa grill is next to the thai restaurant right off of venice. and the pampas grill is in the culver city shopping center. i have seen brassa but never tried it and didnt know it was an all you can eat. i must try it! fogo is incredible but double or triple the prices.