Get ready, carnivores: A new Hilton Head Island restaurant will feature an all-you-can-eat meat parade.
Cowboy Brazilian Steakhouse -- now open in The Village at Wexford at 1000 William Hilton Parkway, Suite B-6 -- offers 16 cuts of beef, chicken, pork and lamb theatrically pedaled around the restaurant by the staff, in addition to six hot Brazilian dishes and 30 salad bar items, according to managing partner Edson Munekata.
Brazilian steakhouses, or "churrascaria," are en vogue these days, perhaps because for one flat price, you can eat all the meat you want.
Or maybe it's because the dining experience becomes more interactive and entertaining than a usual sit-down restaurant.
"Guests control the entire experience," Munekata said.
It starts with a red-and-green card. Servers walk around the restaurant with trays of meat. When they see a table with a card that has its green side facing up, they approach the table, where customers then select which meats they want. The meat is then carved tableside, with customers deciding what temperature they want their meats cooked, Munekata explained.
A red card indicates those eating at the table are busy tucking into their beef ribs, leg of lamb or "picanha" (a cut of beef popular in Brazil), which is the house special.
Customers can also help themselves to the salad bar -- which includes feta pasta salad, Brazilian potato salad and "salmao defumado," or smoked salmon salad, in addition to side dishes such as rice, Brazilian collard greens and cinnamon-crusted pineapple.
In other words, vegetarians (like myself) can even eat at Cowboy ... as long as we avert our eyes and take the long way around the restaurant to avoid the unabashed display of meat. A salad bar-only meal, which includes the side dishes, is $23, while the full experience of all-you-can-eat meat, including the salad bar and sides, is $37. Kids eat for $15 and diners five and younger eat for free.
But let's get back to the name. What do cowboys have to do with Brazilian steakhouses?
"The people who serve the meat are called 'gauchos,' " Munekata said. "In English, that translates to 'cowboy.' "
Munekata said he felt it was an easier name to remember than something Brazilian, which is an approach many similar restaurants take.
Cowboy Brazilian Steakhouse is also in Columbia, the original restaurant that opened four years ago, and Charleston, a location that opened 2 1/2 years ago. Munekata said it wasn't his plan originally to expand to the Lowcountry.
In fact, one persistent local can take credit for the local installment.
"I had a customer from Bluffton who came up to Columbia for a convention every year," he said.
He asked Munekata when he would put one in the area, a question that became an annual tradition.
"The first year, I didn't listen," Munekata said. "The second year, my interest was piqued, and I started looking around. The third year, I said, 'OK, I'll do it.' "
Cowboy Brazilian Steakhouse opens at 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Follow reporter Ashley Fahey at twitter.com/IPBG_Ashley.
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