Churrascarias aren't exactly new news, and having one in the Chama Gaucha space isn't either. But somehow, it just fits.
Like any self-respecting Brazilian steakhouse, this one is traversed by sword-wielding gauchos. The scent of spit-fired proteins wafts through the manly, spacious dining room, where the salad bar serves as a focal point -- and distraction -- from meat, meat and more meat.
Chama Gaucha3008 Finley Road, Downers Grove, (630) 324-6002, chamagaucha.com
Cuisine: Brazilian churrascaria
Setting: Masculine, wood and flagstone-trimmed dining room
Hours: Lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday; dinner 5 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 4 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, 4 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday
Entrees: All-you-can-eat: $24.50 for lunch; $39.50 for dinner
In traditional fashion, this is an all-you-can-eat affair. Turn the flat disk on your table to green and tableside-carved creations arrive at a rapid-fire rate. Flip it to red, and gobble up what's on your plate, sans interruption.
We dined as a family early one Sunday night. The place was already hopping when we arrived. The choices were endless and our appetites probably not enough to keep up with the cost of admission. Still, the food is good, and you can expect to leave stuffed to the gills.
Once we had our fill of the prepared salads, blanched asparagus and shards of Parmesan carved from a giant wheel, the feasting really began.
Sure, after a certain point, the myriad of cuts blur together. However, a true standout was the garlicky, salty picanha, a prized, prime sirloin cut. Bacon-wrapped chicken and filet; top- and bottom-cut sirloin; juicy rib-eye; and earthy lamb chops followed. So did Parmesan-sprinkled pork ribs and deeply marbled, if chewy, beef ribs.
A word of advice: load up on the pepper vinaigrette from the salad bar; not only is it tasty, it cuts through the fat-factor of the meat. Also, do get the tableside sauces as alternates; the herbaceous chimichurri is another welcome companion.
Banish the notion that you'll have room for dessert. It just isn't possible. That said, we took one for the team and ordered some vanilla ice cream. It arrived in gargantuan fashion. Truth be told, you'll be just as happy with the starchy, sweet bananas, which arrive as a complimentary side.
Expect a nice wine list, one that hits all price points, as well as a lineup of cocktails, like the refreshing, yet boozy, caipirinha.
Throughout our meal, service was very gracious and attentive. Pampering, even. That, coupled with the jovial environment and solid, straightforward eats, lends credence to its group-friendly appeal.
• Reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants we cannot recommend.