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.
4218 Washington, 832-649-5293
Start your Independence Day celebration early at Little J's on Washington on Wednesday, July 3, with the monthly "Bourbon and Bacon" night. The menu focuses on bacon dishes paired with bourbon — like pulled pork sandwiches — bacon-wrapped hot dogs and cocktails like the Arnold Palmer's Cooler Cousin.
Little J's and Underdogs' Block Party
4218 Washington, 832-649-5293
4212 Washington, 713-868-5688
Little J's also hosts a block party on Washington from 2 to 10 p.m. on Thursday, July 4, with Underdogs Sports Bar to benefit the recently injured Houston firefighters. The party will feature a barbecue booth, raffles, live music, sparklers and fireworks. All donations will be given to the injured firefighters and 50 percent of the sales from Little J's and Underdogs will be donated to them as well.
The Tasting Room — CityCentre
818 Town & Country Blvd., 281-822-1500
This Fourth of July, take your family out to The Tasting Room in CityCentre to enjoy $2 off pizzas throughout the entire day; military families can enjoy 50 percent off all food purchases. The Tasting Room will also offer a Red, White and Blue special of a ten-ounce rib eye with fries and a choice of either a house salad or a Caesar salad for $15.99.
Texas de Brazil
822 Town & Country Blvd., 713-730-3013
Texas de Brazil offers a Star Spangled Blitz made with strawberry and Piña Colada purees, Blue Curaçao and Cachaça rum all weekend starting July 4. Celebrate the holiday with an Independence Day-themed cocktail.
Red, Hot & Blue Festival
Town Green Park and Waterway Square,
2099 Lake Robbins Dr., The Woodlands
31 Waterway Square Place, The Woodlands
Get out of the house and head over to Town Green Park and Waterway Square for the Red, Hot & Blue Festival in The Woodlands. Starting at 6 p.m., you and your family can enjoy food from various vendors. At Town Green Park, Baines Family Concessions will serve grilled burgers, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, lemonade and tea; Farley's Concessions will sell funnel cakes, hot wing baskets, Texas-size corn dogs, nachos and loaded fries; Potbelly Sandwich Shop will serve sandwiches, cookies and chips; Kona Ice and Snow Cone Hut will offer snow cones; Nothing Bundt Cakes will sell its bundlets; and Rico's Mexican Grill will serve beef nachos, cheese nachos and crispy taco baskets. Waterway Square will have Franky's Gourmet Hot Dogs, Frozen Bliss Shaved Ice and Gigi's Cupcakes. Enjoy craft and domestic beers, wine, sodas, popchips and water from beverage booths at each location as well. Don't forget about the hot dog and watermelon-eating contests.
The Woodlands Waterway Cruisers — Landry's Seafood
1212 Lake Robbins Dr., 281-363-9750
During the Red, Hot & Blue Festival's Fireworks Extravaganza, you and your family can get a front-row seat to watch fireworks over the Waterway by taking a cruise on one of The Woodlands' Waterway Cruisers while enjoying a meal catered by Landry's Seafood at 7:30 p.m. The meal begins with samples of fried calamari, shrimp en brochette and an avocado crab cocktail. Choose from three entrée selections: filet medallions with a wild mushroom sauce, a crab cake stuffed with shrimp, or citrus grove mahi. End the exciting night on a sweet note with key lime pie. Each ticket costs $85.99.
2310 Decatur St., 713-864-2328
Starting at 11 a.m., Beaver's will host its 4th of July Extravaganza complete with the second annual hot dog eating competition, a Nilla Puddin pie throwing booth, and several drink and food specials from the restaurant. Hang out at Beaver's for a day full of fun activities and stay to watch the fireworks from the patio.
Max's Wine Dive
4720 Washington, 713-880-8737
From 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., you and your family can grab a Classic American Brunch at Max's Wine Dive. Chef Michael will serve the regular brunch menu featuring chicken-fried rib eye with a truffle gravy, two eggs made however you like and jalapeño cheddar grits, or Anna's Nutella Banana Crepes topped with fresh whipped cream.
Saint Dane's Houston Sports Bar & Grille
502 Elgin, 713-807-7040
Wings are just 35 cents at Saint Dane's on Independence Day starting at 4 p.m. and lasting until midnight. Happy hour will run from 4 to 7 p.m. and includes $2 domestic beers, $3 well drinks and $2 off all appetizers. After happy hour, the deals don't stop. Well drinks and longnecks cost $3, and frozen margaritas are $5.
Throughout the week until July 4, Outback Steakhouse is giving military personnel 10 percent off their entire guest check. Order a couple Bloomin' Onion appetizers and celebrate this wonderful national holiday.
LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch
23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd. at Grand Parkway, Katy, 281-395-5533
During the sixth annual July 4 BIG Backyard Barbecue celebration at LaCenterra, you and your family can enjoy fireworks, live music and a backyard barbecue featuring burgers, hot dogs, nachos, sausage-on-a-stick, cookies, beer, wine and soda. There'll also be several booths selling sweets like shaved ice and frozen yogurt.
Openings and Closings
Bistro Des Arts, Iguana Joe's & More.
This week, several big-name chefs and restaurant owners spoke about their newly opened and to-come restaurants. Oh, yeah: Iguana Joe's apparently got a lot of people sick and is shut down temporarily. But enough of the gross news; let's get back to some openings we are pretty excited about.
Eater Houston notes that Georges Guy came out of retirement for the third time to open Bistro Des Arts. The restaurant will be opening at 12102 Westheimer and is definitely going to be a French-inspired place to eat. Eater reports that the restaurant will have a rotating display of art from several different artists, as well. The restaurant takes the place of Mumbai Spice and will serve lunch and dinner every day except on Tuesdays.
Grant Cooper and chef Charles Clark have paired to open two new restaurants in Rice Village. Eater Houston spoke with Cooper about these two new concepts, Coppa Osteria and Punk's Simple Southern Food. Cooper says they will "take classic Southern ingredients from here all the way up the food to the Carolinas and basically give it our chef's interpretation." There might even be fried chicken offered one day of the week. You can't complain about another southern-food restaurant, especially from these two people.
Coppa Osteria will most likely open in August if the construction process goes according to plan. Cooper says the restaurant will have a neighborhood feel to it, with a pedestrian storefront where he says you can grab a slice of pizza to go.
The Houston Chronicle reports that country singer Toby Keith is bringing one of his chain restaurants to Houston in West Oaks Mall. I Love This Bar and Grill, based off his hit song, was supposed to be open during the spring of this year, but according to the general manager of West Oaks Mall, the restaurant is close to 90 percent complete. The restaurant will serve barbecue, and customers can enjoy live country music while they eat and dance.
The Leader reports that Wakefield CrowBar opened on Thursday, June 20, in the Garden Oaks-Oak Forest area, serving lunch and dinner items like salads, burgers, shrimp baskets, and fish and chips. Starting June 29, the restaurant began serving breakfast on the weekends.
Eater Houston reports from a tipster that Pappasito's Cantina is opening inside Hilton Americas and will be taking the place of the former Spencer's For Steaks and Chops restaurant inside the hotel. Hilton Americas wants to give out-of-town guests a taste of some of the best cuisine in Texas — Mexican food.
KHOU reports that Mickey Gilley announced on his Facebook page that he will bring back his Pasadena bar, Gilley's, which burned down 20 years ago. Gilley's brought attention to the Pasadena area for its country theme. In order for him to rebuild his famous club, he needs to raise a minimum of $3 million.
It seems like every week a new wing bar is opening in Houston. This week, Pluckers Wing Bar, based in Austin, is set to open at 1400 Shepherd, taking the place of the recently closed Maggie Rita's, according to the Chronicle. Swamplot says that the restaurant was started by two University of Texas freshmen and will serve the staple wing bar items, like beer and even Dr Pepper-flavored chicken. Yum. ESPN said it was a top five sports bar in North America, as noted by Eater.
Fielding's Wood Grill should be opening in The Woodlands in the Research Forest shopping center soon, according to Swamplot. There are not too many details available about the restaurant's cuisine, but it should open in the fall. More details will most likely come after the restaurant decides to put up a sign or logo on the storefront.
B4-U-Eat's newsletter points out that the El Taco Tote Real Mexican Grill location on Westheimer closed this week, as well as the Spicy Pickle on West Gray.
Post Oak Grill in Sugar Land is closing, but the owner has decided to reopen it with a new name: Veritas Steak and Seafood. The Chronicle says that the owner wants to try something new by adding more steak and seafood items to the menu.
According to a reviewer on Fajita Express's page on B4-U-Eat, the restaurant has closed in Stafford on West Airport Boulevard and has been replaced by a burger restaurant.
Sandy Witch Sandwich Company finally has its menu posted online. Eater Houston broke the news about the restaurant's menu filled with sandwiches and sides that follow the witch theme, such as the Alistair Crowley, a sandwich with shredded steak, onions, house-made beer Cheez Whiz and a house marinade, or the Witch of Endor complete with slow-roasted pulled pork, house-pickled slaw and spicy mayo. Sandy Witch Sandwich Company will open July 5 inside the Grand Prize Bar.
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For those of you who miss Zake Sushi Lounge, you will be excited to hear that another sushi restaurant has taken its place on South Shepherd. Onaga Pan Asian Bistro offers Asian fusion dishes for lunch and dinner and has happy hour every weekday from 4 to 7 p.m.
Cork Grinders Coffee and Wine Bar opened in Baytown on June 26. The coffee and wine bar also serves craft beer later in the evenings.
On Saturday, June 29, D & T Drive Inn will have its grand opening, as reported by B4-U-Eat's weekly newsletter. Head on over to the restaurant at 1307 Enid for free samples off its menu, along with beer specials.
Here's the entire month of openings and closings for June: