Tag Archives: Steakhouse

Dinner and a Show at Sabor a Cafe Colombian Steakhouse

colombiaSabor a Cafe (2435 W Peterson Ave. Chicago, IL, 60659) is deceptively small, but inside it is actually both a music venue and a restaurant with a great atmosphere. Our particular draw for the night was a show by the Brazilian singer and pandeiro player Clarice Maghalães, one of our favorite young Brazilian artists. The inside of the restaurant is divided into two parts, and at the back of one half is a small stage, as well as other creative flourishes like an indoor portico and Colombian murals. Sabor a Cafe also has a big meat-heavy menu to keep show-goers happy, but there are also vegetarian starters like arepas and empanadas ($2 or less apiece).

Sabor a Cafe

Dinner and a show at Sabor a Cafe

While perusing the menu we  ordered a somewhat unusual drink – hot chocolate – but the interesting part was that it was served with a mild white cheese, which our server instructed us to crumble into the drink. We did and it was pretty good, not too “cheesy” at all, though we are not sure this would be a regular addition to our mugs of hot chocolate. For appetizers we ordered a requisite for M – the Ceviche de Camaron / shrimp ceviche ($11.99). This rendition came in a cup, like a shrimp cocktail but with a spicy citrus and tomato broth. Though not too similar to his favorite Peruvian ceviche, M was happy with his choice. In terms of mains, there were many traditional Colombian dishes, like Bandeja Paisa ($15.99) which is a mix of steak, sausage, beans and an egg. This is certainly a meat-heavy menu and if you are looking for steak (in many varieties) you won’t be disappointed.


Our requisite order of Ceviche + maduros

We opted to share the Parrillada ($18.99) a large plate (board?) of grilled steak, grilled chicken breast and grilled shrimp with chorizo, baked potato, grilled onions, yuca and more plantains. However, if you are not in the mood for such a huge combo, there were a variety of smaller a la carte meat dishes and combos, including carne asada ($12.99) or chicken skewers ($6). We were impressed with our parrillada, all of the meat was grilled to perfection, and we also liked all of the starchy side dishes. Along with the ceviche, the parrillada was more than enough for the two of us.

Sabor a Cafe

Enough for two? Yes.

Another good thing about the dinner and a show model as that you pace yourself a little more. After a short break in gluttony, we settled on a decent chocolate cake for dessert (which also had some sort of cherry flavor in it), but we were also tempted by the Brevas con Arequipe / figs with cheese ($3.99) and the Platano Maduro con Queso y Dulce de Guayaba / Plantain with cheese and guava ($3.99). Maybe next time! Sabor a Cafe pleasantly surprised us with a good show, and good food to match. We will definitely be back.

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A real Brazilian steakhouse experience: Porcão

Avenida Infante Dom Henrique
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

brazilGermany plays Brazil today, and while we still hope the Canarinho can pull it out, Neymar’s injury and Thiago Silva’s suspension means this may be our last chance to highlight Brazilian cuisine before the end of the World Cup. In the United States, as well as Germany, it seems, the idea of Brazilian food usually conjures up the picture of a giant buffet with roving gauchos serving up meat on skewers. Fine cuts of meat are less Brazil-specific than they are at home in the broad swath of land between Argentina, Uruguay, and southern Brazil – the land of the gauchos. Nevertheless, large transnational chains like Fogo de Chão and Texas de Brazil are responsible for popularizing this concept of Brazilian cuisine, which has now gained global popularity. But while we were living in Rio de Janeiro, we were curious if Brazilian steakhouses are the same or similar in Brazil. On many a carioca’s recommendation, we decided to head to Porcão, a high-end churrascaria north of Botafogo bay so large it has its own exit off of Infante Dom Henrique. Turns out, while beef is only a very small slice of Brazilian cuisine (think of fancy steakhouses representing all of US cuisine abroad), the experience at Porcão was very, very similar to those you would find in the United States. There were a wider variety of cuts of meat – Matt’s favorite anticuchos (hearts) come to mind – but overall, we have to say we were a tiny bit disappointed the experience was not more different. Don’t get us wrong, the food was excellent. But trust us when we say when you go to the Texas de Brazil or the Fogo de Chão in Chicago you are are getting basically the same experience (minus the Portuguese, of course).


You know the routine. You pay a set rate for the meal (at the time we went for lunch it was R$110; about 55 US dollars, and then you stuff yourself on the lavish salad bar and buffet. Then, you return to your seat and wait for the roving guacho to come around with particular cuts of meat that suit your fancy. And come they did, as always: every cut imaginable, overall of a wider variety and a bit saltier than you find at US versions. This Porcão was quite large, and seemed to cater to the business executive crowd, who hosted clients and co-workers for marathon meat-eats.???????????????????????????????

The salad bar, was of curse quite extensive, and consisted of various salad fixings, fruit and veg, a small selection of cheeses and bread. Again – no pão de queijo – basically a food crime against humanity. There were some winners at the salad bar though. We really enjoyed the mango and goat cheese salad. One major difference from the US, though is that at Porcão, there was no fish or chicken – only beef. Now, there was basically every type of beef under the sun, but if you don’t like beef you are pretty much out of luck. Sides were only so so, perhaps a little better in the American rendition of the Brazilian steakhouse.


However, where Porcão excelled was in the atmosphere. Most of Rio does, of course, and you simply cannot replicate it at a strip mall in suburban Chicago. In this particular location, the natural setting also plays a big role. Diners here are treated to a very cool view looking out on Sugar Loaf over Botafogo Bay (above). In fact, we don’t think we’ve ever been to a restaurant with quite so nice a view. So fans of the Brazilian steakhouse experience in the US – rest assured that your beloved meat skewers are very much a Brazilian thing – but you may not get quite the authentic view.


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