It's like a delicious game of Red Light, Green Light. When you turn the wooden dowel on your table so the green side faces up, a server comes over with an immense skewer holding flame-roasted meats and, with a butcher knife, cuts pieces onto a wooden plataforma for you to grab with your tongs and place on your plate. When you turn the dowel to red, the server stops the parade of meats so you can work on your current helping, contemplate dessert or, as the menu suggests, nap.
The meats include spicy pork, chimichurri chicken, marinated steak and linguica sausage, along with grilled, garlic-flavored vegetables and grilled pineapple smeared with cinnamon, brown sugar, butter and pineapple vodka.
Rio Grill Brazilian Steakhouse's rodizio (all you can eat) format is similar to what one would find at a traditional steakhouse in Brazil. The variety of the foods is what Patrick Hughes liked when he visited one with his family and decided to open Rio Grill on the South Hill with his wife, Billie-Jo, in August.
"America is similar to Brazil because we have a lot of different people from different nations," says Patrick.
You serve yourself at the buffet and a salad bar that has American dishes like scalloped potatoes and garlic green beans, Brazilian foods like a sausage-and-black-bean stew called feijoada, and other dishes such as German potato salad and Mexican empanadas.
"We wanted to create something that would fit American palates, so we tried to hit every flavor profile," Patrick says.
The rodizio format is served during both lunch ($17 per adult, until 3 pm) and dinner ($22 per adult, after 3) with some plated options and a happy hour menu from 4-6 pm daily. You can choose from brews, wines and Caribbean-style drinks such as guava soda, as well as martinis and cocktails like a Mango-Tini and Caribbean Rum Punch. ♦
Rio Grill Brazilian Steakhouse • 5620 S. Regal • Open Sun-Thu, 11 am-9 pm; Fri-Sat, 11 am-10 pm • riogrillrestaurant.com • 919-3588