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Houston is home to many Brazilian churrascarias. Fogo de Chão and Chama Gaucha come to mind as the more well-known of the bunch, with places like Nelore, Tradiçao, Churrascaria Angus Grill and Pradaria spread out around town.
With the opening of Colorado-based Tucanos Brazilian Grill (16535 Southwest Freeway; 281-277-5477) in First Colony Mall, Sugar Land can finally call itself home to a traditional Brazilian rodizio-style buffet. And before you say you can't eat that much meat, let me just preface that by saying you really don't have to.
While the other Brazilian churrascarias tend to have high price points that make you want to fill up with the more expensive meat, I was amazed at the affordable prices offered by Tucanos. Their concept, aimed at families and perfect for suburbs like Sugar Land, is meant to be affordable.
During lunch, which runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; the full rodizio, which includes all-you-can-eat meats (11 selections); all-you-can-eat salad which they call their "salad festival"; and an unlimited portion of the delicious grilled pineapple and grilled vegetables, is just $14.95. If you don't want meat, the all-you-can-eat salad festival drops to $10.95, and if you want to include the pineapple and grilled vegetables, there is a $2 supplement.
Dinner is a bit, but not much, pricier, offering a few more fancier cuts of meat such as their bacon-wrapped filet (15 selections) for just $21.95 per person. The salad festival dinner price is $14.95. Children's buffet (ages 7-12) is $6.95 at lunch, $8.95 at dinner and free for kids under six.
For people addicted to the Brazilian cheese bread, those fluffy puffs are unlimited. And for those who want to try Brazilian lemonade, it's $3.75 with free refills. Fresh fruit juices — mango, strawberry, passionfruit, guava, pineapple and raspberry — are also available, along with specialty blended drinks, for $4.95.
The Brazilian lemonade, for those who have never tried it, is refreshing and yummy. They serve it to you freshly made in a small glass urn, the opaque colored liquid tangy with lime and creamy, sweet, and slightly frothy from the addition of some sweetened condensed milk.
I was invited for a preview the day before the restaurant opened last week, and fell in love with the brown sugar-grilled fresh pineapple. Like hot pieces of caramelized pineapple, the sweet chunks of fruit were so addictive, I kept asking for more. Likewise, the garlic parmesan beef, or picalho, was delicious and tender, like a savory garlic steak. I had two pieces to start but ended up asking for more as well.
When you're dining, they'll give you a small wooden cylinder painted green and red at opposite ends. Turning it green signals to the servers that you want to be served, while turning it red means you want them to stop. No need to be greedy. When your plate is full, you should stop until it's empty, or the meat will go cold. When you want to turn it green again, you'll see the servers miraculously re-appear.
For diners who want to skip the meat, the salad festival offers every choice you can imagine, from make-your-own salad options to freshly sliced fruit, pre-prepared pasta salads and other cold salads, a sushi roll section, and a hot section with items like the Brazilian black bean stew, or feijoada. The price differential is so minimal between the salad and the full-blown rodizio option, however, that it's probably worthwhile to do the full lunch or dinner and just eat the meat in moderation.
If you want more premium meats, you can select from a menu of options that include skewers of bacon-wrapped filet mignon, shrimp, jumbo sea scallops and lobster for an additional supplement.
Tucanos took over the space that used to house Kona Grill in First Colony Mall. It's located across the pathway from Mia Bella Trattoria. They kept the indoor-outdoor bar that used to be such a hit at Kona Grill but completely renovated the interior, taking out walls and partitions, adding colorful, festive booths, a huge salad station, custom made gas and charcoal grills, an attractive bar area, and an expanded outdoor patio.
It's family-friendly and fun, giving you a piece of Brazil's festive culture, along with their delicious cuisine for an affordable price, right in the heart of Sugar Land. It's definitely worth a visit. In fact, I'd go back for the pineapple alone.
Leave the kitchen behind and eat out at these Houston restaurants on July 4.
If you would rather swim at the pool, relax with friends and family, set off fireworks (if permitted) and have someone else do the cooking this Fourth of July, then we have you covered. Celebrate our nation's independence at one of these restaurants and festivals.
2502 Algerian Way, 713-581-6101
Throughout the entire day, Haven offers a Burger Bar Special where you can dress up your Akaushi meat patty with a variety of burger toppings at the Fixin' Bar. Choose from simple and classic toppings like lettuce, pickles and tomatoes or upscale toppings like artisan cheese slices, caramelized onions, jalapeño cheese sauce and house-made smoked tomato ketchup from Chef Randy Evans. Each burger comes on a house-made bun with tater tots for just $12. Make it a complete meal with a local draft beer for $2 more. Haven will also serve the Huntin' Dog, previously offered at James Coney Island throughout the month of June. If burgers aren't your cup of tea, enjoy this specialty hot dog complete with all-Angus beef topped with Haven's Texas Wild Boar Chili, finely chopped onion, cilantro and chopped pickled jalapeño, all served in a jalapeño-cheese bun. Haven will also have happy hour prices on drinks all day long.