|Tucano's Brazilian Grill
3294 Cinema Point, Colorado Springs, CO
For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, a Brazilian Grill (or Churrascaria) is (at least the American version) an establishment when meat is rotisserie-cooked on long skewers over a huge fire pit, flavored with a variety of sauces, rubs or marinades while cooking, and delivered piping hot to your table by specially trained servers, where they carve hot, juicy slabs onto your plate for your enjoyment. Most have some form of token placed on your table to indicate you wish them to keep bringing more selections. Set it to the “wait” mode, and you can continue your repast in piece. Turn it back to “I'd like more” mode, and they start showing up again with more offerings.
Having just finished his first dining trip to Tucano's Brazilian Grill (http://www.tucanos.com/) Vargr has a few recommended 'rules' for those contemplating a trip to a Brazilian Churrascaria for the first time:
1) Preparation Is Key.
- When they offer you yet another slice of that savory beef you've just fallen in love with, you don't want to have to turn them down just because you've already eaten roughly half a cow. Vargr recommends preparing for your visit well in advance. Joining a competitive eating team is a great way to start. If you have made to the ranks of the finalists at Nathan's annual Coney Island hotdog-eating contest, you are definitely ready to go!
2) Bring Your Appetite!
- With nearly a dozen different types of meat offerings alone, not to mention a buffet salad bar worthy of a separate restaurant all to itself, you're going to want to show up hungry! Skipping any early meals on the day is a must. Vargr suggests a light fast, of perhaps 2–5 days, to really get into the spirit!
3) Pace Yourself!
- You are not in a race with the servers; they WILL return! (Again and again and again and...) The servers often seem to make a game of it, seeing if they can overflow your plate, while you may be tempted to try and clear it all away before the next one comes. Believe Vargr, the servers WILL win that game! Wuff had 3 of them stacked up at his table, all offering different selections, each more tempting than the last. Take your time! Relax! Taste and Enjoy! If you need to, flip your “bring me more” token to the “not now” state. You can always flip it back to the “bring it on” mode again later. Trust Vargr, they don't mind you making an hour or few of this special outing, or even an evening. Just don't keep them TOO long past closing time.
4) Safety First!
- If you've driving a long distance to reach the establishment, having a “designated driver” in reserve for the return trip is a good idea. You don't want to be tooling down the interstate when a 'meat coma' sets in. Wuff suggests hitting up one of your “tofu and bean sprout” buddies and treating them to a nearby salad bar while you're indulging your carnivorous yearnings at the Churrascaria.
- In addition, bear in mind the particular vulnerability of all overinflated objects and avoid contact with sharp or pointy objects immediately following your visit.
5) Plan Your Day!
- Not only will a visit to your favorite Churrascaria take a lot more time than a quick in-and-out at a local fast food stand, but the rest of the day (and perhaps longer) following your visit needs to be included in the planning process. Words like “run”, “hurry” and “bend” will be replaced by others, such as “waddle”, “lumber” and “slump”. Anything requiring high-energy, critical thinking, or intense focus should probably be postponed for at least 24 hours following your visit. In fact, to be safest, it's probably best to just pencil in “collapsed on couch in meat coma” for the rest of the day, or perhaps even the rest of the week, depending on how diligently you have applied rules 1 and 2!
With those out of the way, how was the visit itself to Tucano's? Wuff's thesaurus needs more superlatives to really do an answer justice!
Lets look at the meats, since that is the main focus of these places. Tucano's offers six (count 'em! SIX!) beef selections, 3 pork, and 3 poultry, as well as 3 “other”.
During our visit, friend and I sampled every one of them, and there wasn't a one wuff couldn't have made a full meal of at any other traditional restaurant. All were juicy, succulent, tender and flavorful. Though several featured the same cut of beef (tenderloin), every one was significantly different in taste. For example, tender morsels of tenderloin done a la “Carne Marinada” (a Brazilian take on teriyaki) had a sweet, but slightly 'warmer' flavor, while those done “Picalho” (parmesan, rosemary, garlic, and butter) were rich and savory.
In addition to the meat, the “other” category includes delicious fresh pineapple in brown sugar and butter – sweet enough to rate as a grilled dessert, if you're so inclined. The heat caramelizes both the fruit and the sugar, while tenderizing the fruit. Delightful! There is also a skewer of assorted veggies (2 types of squash, onions, bell peppers, heats of palm, and others) cooked in a parmesan garlic butter sauce. And our seafood selection was deep fried haddock in a mango glaze. Also delightful.
On their own, these skewers would be more than enough to inspire a visit to Tucano's, but the restaurant piles more and more fantastic options atop one another. In addition to all those wonderful “regular” skewers above, Tucano's offers “specialty” skewers, made to order for your meal. Instead of slices of these, you get the entire skewer full. They include shrimp, lobster, bacon-wrapped scallops, and bacon-wrapped Filet Mignon.
Moving away from the skewers, their “Salad Festival” is enough to warrant its own establishment! A fresh salad bar with dozens of selections, including fresh mozzarella balls, peel and eat shrimp, exotic olives, hearts of palm, bamboo hearts, and more.
But it doesn't end there. For Tucano's, “salad” includes such items as Beef Stroganoff, black beans and pork, quail eggs, mashed potatoes, fried rice, brown rice, at least a half dozen pasta and similar salads, and much, much more!
But they're still not done! As if you needed it, they offer a wide selection of luscious appetizers, including a Nachos platter piled high with beans, beef, cheese, and veggies, that would feed a hungry super-bowl party all on its own!
They haven't neglected the drinks either. There is a full service bar available, and a big selection of tropically-themed non-alcoholic drinks featuring fresh tropical fruit juices, as well as traditional sodas and a really great (bottomless) lemonade.
And if you have somehow managed to save enough room, they finish off with as tempting a dessert tray as even the most unrepentant sweet tooth could wish. Sinfully rich cheese cakes with exotic toppings. A huge crème brulee. And, considering how explosively-packed most diners are by this point, a Torre Chocolate aptly nicknamed “death by chocolate”.
This is a wedge of cake only 3-4 inches wide, but at least a foot tall! Made up of nearly a dozen layers of rich, moistened chocolate cake and chocolate fudge frosting, served laid flat on a platter and drizzled with more chocolate sauce, and garnished with fresh whipped crème and raspberries.
You may well 'go out with a bang', trying to finish that after feasting on all the meat skewers and other offerings Tuscon's has to offer, but what a way to go!
Ratings: Food, quality and quantity – 5 of 5 paws up for the food! Service: Constant, friendly, and attentive! 5 of 5 once again for service. Price: All this extravagance comes at a cost. But it's surprisingly not outrageous! For the Skewers and Salad Fiesta alone, it's about $22 per person, for supper (a few $$s less at lunch). Adding in drinks, dessert, or appetizers will up the price pretty quickly, however. For a “full course” meal, expect the price to be closer to $35 per person. And please be sure to tip well, as all those servers with the skewers are also sharing in addition to your personal wait-person. For price - 5 paws of 5. It's not cheap, but it's great value (even more so if you pass on the drinks, appetizers, and desserts), especially when you consider similar establishments start at double the price here.
Total, 5 Paws Up for Tucano's!
This is a small chain (See their webpage), but none in CA (yet). However, it's definitely worth a visit if you get into an area with an outlet.
Last edited on Mon Jul 16th, 2012 11:11 pm by Vargr
We grow not old, so long as we continue to chase our dreams.