Dinner and a Show

I’m a fan of a little show with my dinner: I love the shrimp-flipping hibachi guy, the flaming-cheese saganaki, and the theater of tableside guacamole prep. But can a great show compensate for a merely good dinner? That is the ultimate question posed by Rodizio Grill, the new Brazilian steakhouse in the Shoppes at Arbor Lakes in Maple Grove.  

If you’ve been to Fogo de Chão in downtown Minneapolis, you know the drill: unlimited meat served on giant skewers! Enormous knives slicing that meat onto your plate! Servers in gaucho pants! When my friends and I went to Rodizio on a Saturday night, the restaurant even had a live band playing Brazilian melodies—albeit with the help of sheet music.

Rodizio has two prices for dinner: appetizers and salad bar for $20, and the “Full Rodizio” for $33, which gets you that plus the meat. Don’t even think about the salads-only option—aside from the salpicão, a Brazilian-style chicken salad, its mediocre offerings inspired one of my friends to wonder how one might say “Pondorosa” in Portuguese. Better to just go all-in on the 15 different choices of meat, which include everything from top sirloin to boneless lamb to chicken hearts.

Be choosy if you want to fit out the front door when you’re done. Skip the bland Brazilian pot roast and the mahi mahi in favor of the maminha, a tri-tip sirloin; the fraldinha, or hanger steak; and the unexpectedly delicious sweet-and-spicy chicken.

All of the meats were cooked to perfection: pink inside, charred outside. Brazilian steakhouses traditionally coat the meats in salt, so you may want to ask for an inside slice. The drinks I sampled—the caipirinha and a blended passion fruit–vodka cocktail—were excellent and strong.

Fogo de Chão offers a better overall dining experience than Rodizio, both in terms of food and ambiance, but you’ll pay 50-percent more for it. If Fogo’s $48.50 dinner price has been keeping you from experiencing the magic of a Brazilian steakhouse meal, then get yourself to Rodizio.

12197 Elm Creek Blvd., 763-657-1133, rodiziogrill.com

Jason Derusha is a reporter for WCCO-TV.

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