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Brazilian Midtown - Emporium vs Via Brasil vs Ipanema

I'm looking to eat at a Brazilian place for Saturday lunch, in "Little Brazil" between 5th and 6th Ave, on 46th St. I want a nice restaurant with good service, good wine, nice decor, and good feijoada. Money is no object. I'd rather eat in an expensive nice place with great service than a place with "great value" but crappy service or ambience.

I was originally thinking "Emporium Brazil":

Pros: Pics on website look great.
Great ratings on UrbanSpoon (100% like)

Cons: Feijoada is served as a buffet...(Disgusting. I hate buffets with a passion)

Then saw "Via Brasil":

Pros: Pics on website look great
Feijoada is on menu, not gross buffet. Voted best by Village Voice.

Cons: Terrible rating on UrbanSpoon (78% like)

Also noted "Ipanema":

Pros: Good reviews on UrbanSpoon (87% like)

Cons: Website looks horrible/useless

So, I have no idea which one to choose. Again, I can't emphasize enough that I want good atmosphere, service, feijoada, and wine. In that order.

If it wasn't for the feijoada buffet, I'd definitely choose Emporium. But all buffets remind me of a cheap motel breakfast. I have a visceral hatred of all buffets.

So, then I was leaning to Via Brasil, until I read reviews from people on UrbanSpoon, who hated it, and said the service was awful.

I would be tempted by Ipanema, but the website is complete crap, and non-functional. That raises a red flag with me that if they can't even maintain a web page, they must not be a serious restaurant/business.

Based on what I've seen, I'm leaning to Via Brasil, but Emporium is very close behind. Ipanema is effectively out.

Has anyone been to these places, and can recommend one over another?

Thanks very much in advance!

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Emporium Brasil
15 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

Ipanema
13 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

Via Brasil
34 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

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  1. We've been going to Via Brasil for years and have never had bad service there. My husband loves the feijoada (served in a pot, including blood sausage, pig's ear, etc) and everything I've had, I've liked. We've taken people there and everyone has been more than satisfied (my sister-in-law has held dinners for large groups there since). Went to Ipanema once and didn't like it, haven't been to Emporio.

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    Via Brasil
    34 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

    1. I'm Brazilian and have been to all three places. Via Brasil is my favorite of the three and I alwasy go there when I miss home. I like the atmosphere (when they have live music it's even better) and the service there has always been great...

      I eat the feijoada there all the time, and it's quite excellent.

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      Via Brasil
      34 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

      1 Reply
      1. re: JoLi

        That's nice to know (we're not Brazilian). I have noticed a lot of Brazilians eating there when we go!

      2. Awesome, sounds like Via Brasil it is...

        Thanks very much buttertart and JoLi!

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        Via Brasil
        34 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

        2 Replies
        1. re: johnblacksox

          All in the service of good eating! Reminds me it's about time for us to go again.

          1. re: johnblacksox

            I went to Via Brasil for the sole purpose of having feijoada last year for my birthday. The service was extremely negligent and the feijoada might have been okay, but the terrible service left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

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            Via Brasil
            34 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

          2. I love Via Brasil but have never had the feijoada there. A friend of mine loves Emporium Brasil feijoada but I have never tried, as for being a buffet, it's actually very common in Brazil to have feijoada buffet style.

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            Emporium Brasil
            15 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

            Via Brasil
            34 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

            1 Reply
            1. re: Toot

              I understand a feijoada buffet may be common in Brazil, and if I was in Rio or Sao Paolo, I'd be happy to have a buffet, but I'm having lunch in midtown Manhattan, and the feijoada is $26. Given that, I think table service is more appropriate. But again, just my personal preference, to each their own.

            2. Do any of these spots have a good moqueca? Or, you need to catch a flight south on TAM or AA for that?

              Also, does anyone know if that small dry good store that also was on that street closed or moved? I am assuming one or the other since when I walk down the street I can't find it for the life of me. Since the Bonita market in Queens, off of Norhern Blvd closed, its very tough to find good hearts of palm from Brasil. Brigado

              5 Replies
              1. re: comiendosiempre

                Via Brasil has moqueca, a friend enjoyed it but I don't have any standard to compare it to myself. Have never seen the dry goods store.

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                Via Brasil
                34 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

                1. re: comiendosiempre

                  The moqueca at Via Brasil is really good too. Moqueca and feijoada are the 2 dishes I get there all the time. Get the mixed version, with lobster, cod, shrimp...

                  As for the store, it's called Buzios, and last time I was in the hood, it was still around... 20 W 46th street, it's on the second floor...

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                  Via Brasil
                  34 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

                  Buzios
                  20 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

                  1. re: JoLi

                    Great to know about both the moqueca and the store! Via Brasil's specials are often very good, my husband loves their beef ribs.

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                    Via Brasil
                    34 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

                  2. re: comiendosiempre

                    Buzios has cans of hearts of palm, but last time I checked they didn't have the good brands and the palmito wasn't great. As for moqueca I like the one at Circus, but haven't had in a long time.

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                    Buzios
                    20 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

                    1. re: comiendosiempre

                      Ipanema has pretty good moqueca and one of the better fejoidas i've had in the city. Also, their bife a portuegesa (sirloin steak in a butter sauce topped w a fried egg) is REDONK.

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                      Ipanema
                      13 W 46th St, New York, NY 10036

                    2. My husband and his family are from Rio--and we love Emporium. Yes, it's a buffet for the feijoada, but there is nothing low class about it. The service and quality of food are excellent. We go at least 2-4 times a month either for feijoada or dinner during the week and we have always had great meals. Enjoy!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: hungry_lola

                        There's just something about a "buffet" that I (and I believe others) find really unappetizing.

                        At a restaurant in midtown Manhattan, I like to sit at a nice table and be waited on. I resent having to get up, walk around, serve myself, and it's absolutely unappetizing to dig my own food out of a container that everyone else is digging their food out of at the same time.

                        I acknowledge that this is probably some psychological deficiency I have, but I can't help it.

                        I also get the fact that that restaurant is probably trying to foster some sort of convival family atmosphere of everyone eating together at a big family meal, but having a "family style" dinner is different because it's with close family, not complete strangers among the general public.

                        I guess I'd question how the service at the restaurant could be excellent, when you have to serve yourself?

                        And in this case, I'll probably pass on going to Emporium only because I want feijoada, but I don't like "buffet style". So I'm not trying to be a jerk, just explaining why it's not a great business decision on their part. I'd happily spend a lot of money on food/wine/tip, but not for a buffet.

                        1. re: johnblacksox

                          Via Brasil makes a good caipirinha too.