Gaucho Steak House, Tulsa's only Brazilian Steakhouse Churrascaria, is something of a novelty in Tulsa, with 13 different meats served all-you-can-eat.
While this might seem too good to be true, for owners Jose and Rebecca Segovia, this is as common fare in their homeland of Brazil as fast food is in America.
"We have one on every corner in Brazil. This is how we eat," Rebecca said. "We had a restaurant in Brazil prior to coming here in 1997. We were a little unsure to come here, but we wanted to give people in Oklahoma a taste of the cuisine of Brazil."
And what better place than Oklahoma, where beef holds a prominent place on the plate?
Gaucho (pronounced something like "gow-oo-shÿ?) is a term that translates to something like "a country boy herding cattle," Rebecca told me. The gauchos, dressed in traditional garb from the Southern part of Brazil, serve grilled meat table to table.
Dining here is buffet-style. Lunch is $16.99, dinner Monday through Thursday is $24.99 and dinner on Friday and Saturday is $29.99 because salmon and shrimp are added to the menu. The restaurant is opened on Sundays for special events only.
The night my friend and I dined here, at least four larger tables were filled with groups of people celebrating some event. As soon as we were seated, our server greeted us, asking for our drink order. I chose a Brazilian drink, "usually served to a man," my server told me, but I was determined to have it. Caipiroska is Pearl Vodka, fresh lime, sugar and ice. Rebecca said they only use Brazilian Vodka, and while I could not really detect a difference in taste with this vodka, it was a refreshing drink for the summer. My friend ordered a Manhattan, which must have also been built Brazilian-style, for the taste deviated from that of a typical Manhattan.
Our server welcomed us to visit the salad bar first, which included such items as Shrimp Salad (which Rebecca said is very popular), Cherry Peppers, Filet Mignon Salad, Mayonnaise Potato Salad, Bacon and Lettuce Salad, Tabouli Salad, Heart Palm Salad, Chimi Churri (a Brazilian sauce made from chopped parsley, dried oregano, garlic, salt, pepper, onion and paprika with olive oil; lemon and vinegar may be added for a little extra kick),Cascade Salad, Spring Mix, Fresh Fruit Salad, Tropical Fruit Salad, Beet Salad, Green and Black Olives, Artichoke Hearts, Romaine Heart Salad, Monterrey Jack Cheese and Colby Jack Cheese.
Sides at the bar include Brazilian Oven Rice, White Rice, Black Bean Soup, Beef Stroganoff, Farota (yucca flour, bacon, and Brazilian Spice, fried on request). Of these, Rebecca said the Stroganoff is her personal recipe and is a favorite among customers.
Once back at our table with a sample of salads, we were given a basket of hot cheese bread--little round rolls filled with Parmesan cheese, with a chewy texture. Rebecca said this cheese bread is a common food for breakfast and for snacks during the day in Brazil. They quickly became a favorite of mine.
As we were transitioning from the salad bar to meats, we were instructed to turn a small card--green on one side, red on the other--to the green sign, signaling to our waiter we were ready for the meat.
Soon, gauchos were coming to our table with large skewers of meat. They sliced the meat and we grabbed it with our tongs to place on our plate.
Beef included top sirloin cap steak (Picanha), top sirloin (Alcatra), tri tip steak (Maminha), filet mignon, filet mignon wrapped in bacon and Gaucho Garlic Steak. There was also tender chicken breast, chicken breast wrapped in bacon, lamb steak, honey pit ham, pork loin, pork loin parmesan cheese and Brazilian pork sausage. Seafood choices included shrimp kabob and salmon.
"Grilled Pineapple is served at the end of the meal," Rebecca said, "for it is known to help digest the meats."
My friend and I did not sample all 13 selections, but we did have 10 very good samplings. Favorites surfaced--the Picanha (top sirloin cap steak), shrimp, chicken breast wrapped in bacon, pork loin parmesan cheese and, of course, the filet mignon.
What my dining friend and I noticed is that all the meats had their own taste--grilled with accompanying marinades and spices. Rebecca said she uses salt rock sent here from Brazil, which comes with Brazilian spices already added.
"We also use a huge amount of garlic and Brazilian wine to prepare the marinade," she said. Some were heavily spiced with Brazilian spices, some were mildly marinated and spiced. Each bite, each taste, was a fine dining experience.
Gaucho Steak House
6219 E. 61st St.
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