For those who’ve never experienced it, Rodizio is an all-you-can-eat style of restaurant service popular in Brazil. Outside of Brazil, it refers to a prix fixe meal (sorry, preço fixo) where waiters in boots bring you various grilled meats until you cry uncle. Its gaucho ancestor is churrascaria, a style of cooking meat on skewers over a campfire.
You may liken it to hibachi-gone-Brazilian, for there is an entertainment factor.
Rodizio Grill in Lafayette has a nice stock of both imported and Louisiana-brewed beer plus a generous wine list. Their house wine is Chilean, Santa Carolina, ($9, bottle $22) but get the Argentinian Artigal Uno and plan on more than one round, since it pairs beautifully with red meat. You’ll love the wild berry notes and whiff of the Pampas.
There certainly is more than one round of everything else — Picanha (top sirloin), Cordeiro (boneless lamb), swai, bacon-wrapped shrimp, Lombo Com Queijo (Parmesan-encrusted pork), Linguica (sausage), and sobrecoxa (marinated chicken) — with skewers of grilled pineapple in-between as a palate cleanser.
With the full Rodizio experience ($19.99 for lunch, $34.99 for dinner), you also have unlimited access to the copious salad bar and popular Brazilian sides.
We selected some Manchego, mashed potatoes, legumes com Parmesão (Parmesan grilled vegetables), feijoada (Brazilian black bean stew), rice, and roasted pineapple slaw. But a word of caution — go easy on the preliminaries, you’ll need room for what’s in store. You can elect for just the salad bar for $19.99, but why do that, when the gauchos are so much more fun.
Service was excellent on our night and started with the p ão de queijo — tiny, delicious cheese muffins made with yucca flour — and progressed from there. When you turn your wooden blocks to green, the gauchos will come and carve at your table, while you use tongs to transport the meat to your plate. It’s up to the individual to ask for the degree of desired doneness and you control the summoning, so remember that red stops the flow of dishes. Specify rare for the top sirloin — our absolute, hands-down favorite — and be sure to ask for the chimichurri and fried bananas glazed with cinnamon.
If you’re still conscious, there is a dessert tray of Brazilian-tinged desserts, one of which is the excellent crème brulée ($5.99), infused with orange and mint. Turn the block on its side when you want the check, although ours arrived even without the signal.
The doggy bag brigade needs to know going in that there’s no taking home unused portions for lunch the next day. Should you genuinely want to treat the dog, your server will gladly bring you a small box for scraps, which will then be weighed and added to your bill. You’ll survive.
The full Rodizio experience is another matter.