Tuesday night I was invited to a new restaurant opening, Tucanos Brazilian Grill in St. Charles – my suburb of St. Louis. I was excited to try this because it is an experience type restaurant which I enjoy. Unfortunately we did not have a lot of time to mingle much, but I saw my friends Todd and Sharon Jordan and met David Craig and Ann Pollack at the event. Hubby came along with me – he loves it when there is food.
Tucanos is a chain of a few restaurants around the country (locations here) and their specialty is Brazilian grilling or Churrasco (shoe-HAS-ko). It is an all-you-can-eat type of place in that with your dinner you get the Salad Festival plus there are servers that come around all the time with the churraso skewers of all types and you just have some of all the kinds you want and as much as you want. When you are seated the server comes over and asks for drinks and your order and then you head up to the Salad Festival. Once you are back at your table the churrasco skewers come around as well. Even though Tucanos was packed on our visit since it was its opening, they still did a fabulous job getting around with everything for us to try – especially Erick!
We started off with Brazilian Lemonade with pineapple juice which had a nice combination of the acidic and sweet flavors. You can also get this with mango, passion fruit, guava, raspberry, or strawberry. Our table decided these would all be good with some rum too!
The Salad Festival is a giant food bar and I was actually pretty impressed with the offerings on it. Above the bar is a very tropical feeling sculpture hanging from the ceiling – it reminded me of a palm tree. They had traditional salad mixes and plenty of toppings including hard boiled quail eggs, diced beets, blue cheese crumbles, peppers, mozzarella balls, and peppers – all labeled nicely above and presented really well. I was a tiny bit disappointed that they did not have any low-fat salad dressings, but they did have a wide variety of vinegars and oils although I did not see those until after I had passed the rest of the dressings. Another section had multiple pre-mixed salads although there was a huge crowd when I got to that side so I just went back to the table.
And yet another section of the Salad Festival had hot foods. Hubby was thrilled to see collard greens – he loves cooked greens – the also had farofa to put on top of the greens. This is a crumb type mixture. Fried bananas were presented, I was hoping for plantains actually because I love plantains, but hate bananas. These were fried though anyway so not the best choice for me. Pao de Queijo were these small little breads, I actually had to look this up at home and it is little cheese breads. I tried a taste of one but it did not taste overly cheesy to me, but it was still good. Other hot foods included mashed potatoes – I always try those – they were good, pasta and sauce, sautéed vegetables, red beans, rice, vegetable beef soup, and I’m sure a few other things. Lobster Bisque was there also which I tried. It had a good sweet lobster flavor, but the texture was more like a thick chowder than a bisque which is a bit thinner and fluid.
We headed back to the table with our Salad Festival finds and then the churrasco skewers started coming! You have a little bit of everything with these. Most are on these giant skewers where the servers slice off a piece and you grab it with a little set of tongs that everyone gets. A few things they just push a piece off onto your plate, and there were just a couple of things that were in baskets instead. It was fun watching for them to come around and trying to spot what they had with them. I loved being able to try a little bit of just about everything too.
My favorite was the peru (Peh-ROO) which is turkey wrapped in bacon, and while everything tastes good with bacon, the turkey was actually very moist and tasty on its own also. The Picalho (Pea-CAL-yo) is garlic parmesan beef and was also really flavorful and tender. We had (I think it was this) the Beef Tenderloin, Fraldinha (Frow-JING-ya) but I felt it was a little blah, although it was very juice and tender. Another favorite of mine was the assado (Ah-SAH-do), marinated beef brisket. This was very juicy and beefy and it would have been great on a little bun for a sandwich I thought. Chicken thighs, contra coxa (CONE-trah CO-shah) and chicken hearts, coração de frango (Cor-ah-SWON de FRAHN-go) were selections I did not try, but Hubby loved the chicken hearts and had several of them. The pork selections of linguiça (Ling-GWEE-sah) Brazilian sausage, presunto (Pre-ZUN-toe) brown sugar-glazed Ham, and lombo (LOAM-bow) pork loin were all flavorful but I found the sausage and pork loin both on the dry side – most people (and places) overcook pork and so that is always a problem we run into. I was delighted to see grilled pineapple, abacaxi (Ah-bah-kuh-SHEE) on skewers – Hubby grills sliced pineapple all the time and we love it – it was really good at Tucanos also and a nice break from all the meats. They do have seafood options (shrimp, lobster, scallops), but they are all an extra cost over the dinner price.
This is the area they cook the skewers in. They have big grill/ovens on the wall that hold all the skewers and also an area that they dip the skewers into the sauces and marinades during cooking. These men were working hard during our visit but still took time to smile and let me take a quick photo.
On top of the plentiful and delicious food and fun service they had a live band and dancers that came out for a little show! Now I do not always appreciate these little shows at some restaurants, but here at Tucanos I thought it was a nice touch because it is that more party feel and it is something different. In the pic on the right you can see the girl in the blue shirt – she is a server but she jumped in and started dancing too and was fabulous! I do not know if the music and dancing is a regular event at Tucanos all the time or just for the special opening, but I hope they do it regularly!
The pricing at Tucanos is a tad high compared to many of the restaurants in our area, but it is an experience and you can eat as much as you like. For adults for dinner which includes the Salad Festival and the Churrasco it is $20.95 (at my location) and weekday lunch is $13.95. Kids under 6 are free, kids 7-12 are $5.95 for weekday lunch and $7.95 for dinner. Your drinks, any appetizers, specialty skewers, and desserts are extra. They do have a couple of smaller offerings that you can check the menu for. I do think that you get quit a bit for your money though and it would be really nice for special occasions even if it does not fit into your regular dining out budget.
If you are in my area this newest Tucanos location is also having a charity event on April 4, 2013. You can get all the details and make reservations by calling 636-724-4499 or at tucanos.com/makeitrain. The charities involved are Autism Speaks, Friends of Kids with Cancer, St. Patrick Center, and Operation Food Search.
I am happy to have a Tucanos here in St. Charles and plan on going back. It will also be a great place to take friends and family who come in from out of town. I encourage you to try any Tucanos location when you have a chance!
Have you been to Tucanos before? What is your favorite part? If you have not been, what do you think you would like best?
Disclosure: I was an invited guest at Tucanos and Hubby and I received our meal without charge. The opinions are our own and honest.
© 2013, Robyn Wright. All rights reserved.