April 09, 2006

Phhfffttt Forty isn't old (for a tree) - Espetus Churrascaria (San Francisco)

Okay. So I'm not forty. Yet. But I will be. Someday.

And today, I'm one day closer to that... um... milestone.

To celebrate (or commiserate) our respective milestones (John's is tomorrow), we opted for something we'd each discovered on our own and have been wanting to experience together. Our destination: San Francisco's Espetus Churrascaria.

An Atkin's dieter's (or any meat lover's) dream, the churrascaria is Brazilian barbecue at it's finest, steeped in the Gaucho tradition. The Gauchos (or Brazilian cowboys) would skewer large portions of meat and roast them slowly over carefully tended open fire pits. They would serve the meats family (or rodizio) style, carrying the entire skewer from plate to plate, carefully carving the delectable meats into perfect serving sizes.

The American churrascaria (at least the ones we've experienced) carries on much of this tradition. Each table uses a two-sided disk to control the pace of their meal. The green side signals the Gauchos offer their selections of sizzling fire-roasted meats to your table. The red side indicates you're ready to take a break. Flip it back to green and the protein parade resumes.

And the protein parade at Espetus was quite a show indeed. While the buffet -- a salad bar on steroids -- wasn't nearly as opulent as either of remembered from our previous experiences, and Espetus is clearly outgrowing it's current geography (the website promises expansion is imminent), the actual skewer selection was impressive.

Garlic Sirloin. Prime Rib. Pork Loin. Linguica. Not into red meat? Chicken Breast. Chicken Thighs. Shrimp. Feeling brave? Check out the Chicken Hearts.

Skip the dessert here though... neither of us were impressed with the sweet selection.

We don't get to the city often, so it's hard to say whether or how soon we'll return to Espetus. If/when we do, it'll be after they remodel, and with a crowd -- "family style" is kind of lost on a couple and to sample everything would require a day or two of fasting ahead of the big meal. It'd be a great location to take out of town guests looking for something a little different.

1686 Market Street, San Francisco