How To Approach A Brazilian Steakhouse Salad Bar For The Best Experience

Let's set the scene. You've decided to venture into the world of the churrascaria, otherwise known as the Brazilian steakhouse. You're excited. Maybe it's a special occasion? Maybe you're celebrating. You're eager to try all the traditional meat offerings, maybe even find some new favorite cuts of steak. You arrive and are welcomed in, and your server tells you to help yourself to the salad bar. You walk over and load up your plate. After all, you're paying a flat rate for dinner; why not try everything they have to offer? But then the table service begins, and before you've tried even three of the classic churrasco meat offerings, you're full. 

In the world of Brazilian steakhouses, this is a tale as old as time, and it's one that these restaurants may expect. While no one is suggesting you make an entire meal of only meat, there are some ways you can play it safe when you hit the salad bar so that you have room when the table service begins. Lighter offerings and smaller portions will ensure that when it's time to get your meat on, there's plenty of room in your tummy. If and when you hit the salad bar, you'll want to have a plan in mind so that you don't get too full too fast. 

Stick to the lighter offerings

The salad bars at Brazilian steakhouses are glorious, and this is all by design. Think about it: If you're charging everyone a flat fee to eat whatever they want, why not get them full on inexpensive offerings like salads, bread, and rice before you begin offering the more expensive dishes — the choice cuts of meat! It's nothing malicious; it's just good business acumen, but it doesn't mean you have to fall for it. 

When you approach the salad bar, if you approach it at all, you'll want to stick with items that won't fill you up before the main table service begins. Stick with salad greens with light dressings or other light vegetable dishes. If you are enchanted by all the options and must try more than just salad, serve the tiniest of bites on your plate. That way, you can try multiple things without getting full. As a general rule, grain- or carb-heavy dishes will make you full faster, so avoid rice, beans, bread, potatoes, plantains, and the like. 

Brazilian steakhouses can be a pretty penny, so if you're in the mood for a large selection of salad options, find another restaurant that specializes in vegetables for a more affordable price. 

Wait for the main table service

Many Brazilian steakhouses have you pay a flat fee that includes the salad bar and table service. The table service is where you get all the delicious meats, so if you're paying the big bucks, then you'll be glad that you saved room for the main event. Table service is where you'll get to try all kinds of different meat offerings, like chicken, sausage, pork, different types of steak, and even lamb. 

If you want to try a little bit of everything, ask your servers to cut you smaller portions so you can sample the different meat offerings. Generally, the servers will come around a few times with the different cuts of meat, so once you find the ones you really like, you can ask for larger servings. 

Remember, the key to enjoying a Brazilian steakhouse experience is to pace yourself. While you might be tempted to arrive at the restaurant starving, it might not be in your best interest to do so. You know how they tell you never to grocery shop on an empty stomach? Well, the same theory applies here. If you arrive at a Brazilian steakhouse famished, you'll run right to the salad bar to satiate your hunger. Consider having a light lunch or a light snack a few hours before you'll be arriving for your Brazilian steakhouse meal. That way, you can pace yourself and enjoy your feast.