Caipirinhas on the Patio at Chama Gaúcha

in Dining & Nightlife by

No course in world cuisine is complete without a foray into the traditional churrasco cooking of the Brazilian gaucho. Chama Gaúcha Brazilian Steakhouse, an endlessly romantic restaurant located on Westheimer Road between the Interstate 610 loop and the Sam Houston Tollway, serves some of the best in its class.

Photo by Two Cats Communications

Churrasco, a staple of Brazilian cooking, is a barbecue-lover’s dream. Skewers of beef, pork, seafood, or chicken are heated over an intense flame, giving the meat its signature sear and leaving tender, juicy cuts inside. The gaucho tending the grill then journeys around the table, slicing off ribbons of perfectly-cooked meat to suit each guest’s preference.

Chama Gaúcha embraces the spectacle inherent in this tradition, and sends its waitstaff weaving through the dining room carrying aromatic skewers, so that each table enjoys a constant rotation of tempting fare. A clever card next to each place-setting, one side red and the other green, allows diners to wordlessly signal their readiness for another cut.

Of course, there are plenty of culinary delights with which to preoccupy your palate between meats. Chama Gaúcha’s salad bar sets them apart from other churrascarias—the elegant spread in the middle of the dining room is brimming with olives, fruits and fine cheeses, soup and salad, and a dizzying array of sides. This is the rare steakhouse that’s suitable for a vegetarian – the salad bar alone offers guests hundreds of paths to a satisfying meal. Happily, all of them include bottomless baskets of pão de queijo, or Brazilian cheese bread, a pillowy concoction of parmesan and tapioca flour that resembles a miniature soufflé.

Photo by Two Cats Communications

Guests with more modest appetites or limited time needn’t shy away. Recently-launched à la Carte lunch and dinner menus allow diners to select a favorite cut of meat and pair it with two sides and a choice of soup or salad. The new menus are family-friendly, too – we recommend the Picanha Burger for less adventurous eaters.

Finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t recommend an after-work (or after-dinner) drink in the new covered outdoor patio. Bar-height tables dot the comfortable space, which also boasts several lounge-style seating clusters around circular fire pits – an homage to the churrasco tradition.

Photo by Two Cats Communications

The perfect drink for the environment is the caipirinha, Brazil’s signature national cocktail. Made by muddling lime wedges and sugar and topping the mixture with cachaça, the caipirinha is a smoother, more refreshing cousin of the ubiquitous margarita – without the risk of a sub-par tequila turning the drink into battery acid. Chama Gaúcha offers the caipirinha in a variety of new flavors, including strawberry, açaí, passion fruit, and tropical. For a special treat, catch all-day Happy Hour on Mondays and Tuesdays, or stop in from 4:30-7:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

Now, we invite you to take an insider’s look at this gorgeous restaurant—including a peek at how the caipirinha is made.

5865 Westheimer Rd. // (713) 244-9500 // chamagaucha.com/houston/

Noah is a Houston-based writer and photographer. You can find him exploring Houston's restaurant and museum scenes with his wife or catching a game at Minute Maid Park.

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