When 3 pilots for a local airline decided to start up a restaurant recently, it did not take them long to figure out what they wanted to do. They immediately thought of the place that in all their travels had served them the best food and dining experience: Brazilian BBQ. If you do not know what a Churrascaria is, I would urge you to run (don’t walk!), and find out. At its best, the Churrascaria represents the best mix of old and new world life: a gaucho (roughly translates to cowboy in South American countries), is sitting by the fire after a long day on the range, and he gets to eat an endless portion of fresh grilled meats until his hearts content. Do I have your attention yet?
First, lets talk about the basics of how the concept operates: For one set price, a reasonable 15.5 KD (7.5 for kids 10 and under), you get to pick from a slew of 9 different salads to start with, then you get to choose from an unlimited portion of 12 different sides, all while the Passadors, or meat carvers, constantly rotate past your table giving you endless amounts of a variety of meats. You use a traditional red and green signal method, which they provide, to signify whether you want them to keep the meat madness coming or not (here signified with green when you want more, red when your tapping out); it’s that simple! It all starts with a homemade Pão de queijo while you decide on your salad: these cheese rolls with their soft, chewy center, and made with a cassava flour, are the perfect thing to nibble on as you start salivating the constant parade of meats.
Now, we should discuss all of the meats themselves. Call it sheer luck, but the first to hit our table was the sirloin: this steak was BBQ’d to perfection. Still, this only set the scene of what was to come. In the next 10 minutes our table had been visited an equal amount of times, like clockwork, with deliveries of: chicken tamarind (a delicious and flavorful regional favorite), beef sausage, chicken sausage, rump steak, flank steak, chicken heart, shrimp, lamb chops, and on and on. There is truly not enough room in the column to go through them all- but they were ample, endless, and delicious. Although they are all served with a variety of daily made sauces, I found it hard to get passed their in-house made, and very original vinaigrette (think: almost like a chimichurri in terms of chunky, fresh ingredients combined with just a tinge of heat).
As for the sides, I have a theory here that I must preface this part with: I have long thought that the real proof to whether a place is authentic in origin can normally be found in the sides and the staples; this is normally because it is the first thing to be overlooked when working to sell you a high-priced main dish. Find a place that can grill a steak, and that’s most certainly noteworthy, BUT– find a place that can perfectly execute Brazilian rice and black beans to accompany it, and I will show you an authentic eatery. Not just local derivatives of same, or even generally-regionally correct, but actually subtly flavored like they do in the homes and eateries of your best Brazilian friends, makes the entire experience all the more pleasurable. Add to that, other awesomely authentic sides like polenta frita, and fried bananas and you may find yourself bartering with yourself over real estate in your stomach!
Lastly, should you have saved room for dessert, there is more to be had here. I must admit that if it were a question of room for more meat versus dessert, I would probably go with the former. However, here I would be remiss in doing so. The first one that absolutely must be mentioned here is the Apple Crema: a delicious hollowed out apple served with a delicious and delicate mix of warmed diced apples, strawberries, and Zabaglione cream inside. This was the perfect amount of subtly sweet-ness that I needed-seriously delicious. The Crème Brule and Tiramisu were also solid, if more common. I did not try the Pudim de leite, a Brazilian classic, though; I guess I will just have to go back and give it another go.
Rio is located in Kuwait City, on Ali Al Salem St. at Al Jawhara Tower. Reach them by phone at