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Find a Family-Friendly Taste Adventure at Austin's Estancia Churrascaria Brazilian Steakhouse
The majority of the KidzAustin clan (My daughter, Zeyda (11), my husband and I) ventured to local Brazilian steakhouse, Estancia Churrascaria, and found a veritable taste adventure for lunch. Knowing this was a buffet style restaurant, we brought empty stomachs and open minds to the table in hopes of sampling as much as we could.
The dining area was spacious, comfortably lit and smelled of the sizzling meats we would soon enjoy. In the middle of the room was one of the larger salad areas I've seen. Four sides were decorated with the bright colors of the various offerings -- from Caesar salad to sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke bottoms, fresh mozzarella balls, smoked salmon and so much more. While the atmosphere coincided with its fine-dining persona, the patron's dress ranged from casual shorts to suits. Just a reminder, this was lunch and not dinner, so this might change as the evening sets in. The clientele consisted of all types -- friends, families, colleagues, dates, etc. We saw several kids under the age of 6. Did I mention that kids 6 and under eat free? And, kids age 7-12 eat for 1/2 price? (Find more kids eat free deal on our kidzeatfree page.)
How it Works
Once seated at the table, our waiter explained the Estancia Churrascaria concept. Essentially, each patron receives a card that is placed on the table. One side is red and the other side is green. When you are ready to partake in any of their fine meat offerings -- various cuts of pork, beef, lamb, chicken and sausage -- you flip the card from red to green. Once that happens, your table is visited by an array of servers. They each carry a different type of meat on skewers that are then sliced tableside. In the meantime, sides including polenta, fried bananas, garlic mashed potatoes and rolls are delivered to the table. Some other sides are available upon request including rice, black beans, etc. And, of course, you've also got your pick of any of the myriad of options at the salad bar. Desserts and drinks are not included with your buffet, but are available for purchase.
Ready. Set. Enjoy.
Zeyda, my husband and I started the adventure at the salad bar. My plate included caesar salad, artichoke bottoms, mushrooms, asparagus, fresh mozzarella balls, chicken salad, various cheese slices, and waldorf salad. I'll be honest, I only had a bite or two of each and as I did I could taste the freshness. Then, I went for the sides. The polenta was crisp, the mashed potatoes were creamy, the fried bananas sweet and the rolls were soft, cheesy and sumptuous. Once we all had a taste, we were ready to move onto the next stage of our culinary journey -- the meats!
We flipped over our cards. The meats came fast. Our first morsel was the top sirlion. The seasoning was flavorful and the texture was tender and juicy. This actually turned out to be one of my favorites. My daughter enjoyed plucking the meat from the skewer with the provided tongs as the meat was gently sliced before her eyes. Then came a bacon-wrapped filet, a beef rib and lamb. "So much meat," said Zeyda with a smile as she flipped her card back to red. We all followed suit and sampled each of the new arrivals. As I prepared to eat the lamb, a staff member suggested trying it with a mint jelly, which she was kind enough to bring to us. I was skeptical, but gave it a try. It turned out to be a nice marriage of flavors. The minty sweetness went perfectly with the savory, pungent flavor of the lamb. Zeyda and I discussed that the use of the jelly would be a great way to introduce lamb to younger diners that might otherwise be less open to its distinct flavor. I would certainly recommend it to any younger ones in our extended family.
We continued through our journey flipping red to green and back to red again. As our tummies became almost unbearably full, we all agreed to save at least a small space for dessert. It wasn't easy. The dessert menu featured options like key lime pie, turtle cheesecake, chocolate molten cake and more. After reviewing and by suggestion of our server, we opted for the creme brulee. It didn't disappoint. The crisp and sweet outside and soft, creamy inside kept us 'sampling' the tasty treat until their was simply none left.
In the end, we came away with a unique taste experience. We all managed to try something new and emerged with more seasoned culinary palettes than those with which we came.
Side note: Don't be afraid to bring your pickier eaters that always want to stick to the simple or sweet options. If you want to go plain, they can have their steak (or chicken) and eat it too. Just add all the garlic mashed potatoes and rolls you'd like and any child should be pleased. We'd also suggest the waldorf salad for a kid-frienldy experience. The sweet of the apples with the creamy sauce would make a nice addition without being too risky.
It is kid- and family-friendly? Yes. I particularly think this would be a great place to take the whole family to celebrate something -- birthday, great grades, a promotion -- or maybe just to treat yourselves for being you. When you do go, bring an empty stomach so you can attempt to give everything a try!
What was our favorite thing? It was a toss-up for me between the lamb (both leg and chops) and the top sirloin. My husband really loved the bacon-wrapped filet. And, Zeyda also thought the top sirloin and smoked salmon was great.
Would this be a good date night venue away from the kids? I think so. It certainly wasn't loud at lunch so conversation would be optimal. The food and service seemed appropriate for a date.
Additional Comment: The fact that this Brazilian steakhouse is located in the Arboretum allows for some fun after lunch/dinner as well. We decided to walk some of our food off by visiting local shops. Kids can also enjoy the Arboretum cows in the courtyard area. These are giant colored cement cows that they can climb on or play around. You can also venture down the walkway to the Aboretum duck pond where you might even catch a glimpse of a swan or two. Also, if you weren't ready for dessert while there, nearby Blue Baker and Amy's Ice Cream offer post-lunch/dinner dessert options that the kids will also love.
About Estancia Churrascaria
Estancia Churrascaria is Austin’s premier Brazilian Steakhouse, recently honored by FOX News as one of America’s best Brazilian steakhouses. Guests may begin at the extensive salad bar featuring items such as smoked salmon, asparagus, sun dried tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and various greens. When guests are ready, the expert Gauchos or Brazilian Cowboys are equipped to personally serve them at their tables. Guests are offered an array of more than 14 flavorful cuts of meats, including chicken, pork, beef, lamb and sausage – all grilled to the guest’s preferred temperature. Golden fried plantains, buttery garlic mashed potatoes and fried polenta are served family style. An excellent, extensive wine list and authentic Brazilian cocktails complement the unlimited fare. For a set price, Estancia Churrascaria allows guests endless dining while experiencing the culture and flavor of Southern Brazil. Located at The Arboretum, Estancia Churrascaria is open for lunch Monday-Friday 11am – 2pm, Saturday - Sunday 11:30am – 3pm and for dinner Monday - Thursday 5pm – 10pm, Friday 5pm – 10:30pm, Saturday 3pm - 10:30pm and Sunday 3pm – 9pm. For more information, call 512.345.5600 or visit www.estanciachurrascaria.com.
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WHERE: 10000 Research Boulevard, Austin, TX 78759, 512-345-5600
Estancia Churrascaria serves lunch M-Fri, 11 AM - 2 PM; Sat-Sun, 11:30 AM - 3 PM and dinner M-Th, 5-10 PM; F, 5-10:30 PM; Sat, 3-10:30 PM; Sun, 3-9 PM.
WHAT MAKES ESTANCIA CHURRASCARIA DIFFERENT:
1) The Brazilian steakhouse offers patrons the opportunity to try a myriad of tastes and textures with a plentiful salad bar, generous sides (order as many or as much as you'd like) and various cuts of different types of meats.
2) The steakhouse Is in walking distance to fun things for the kids and family to do before/after their visit including shopping at the Arboretum as well as the courtyard featuring the Arboretum cows and duck pond,
FOR MORE INFO:
OTHER NOTABLES:Estancia Churrascaria is often open during holidays offering a nice dining option as opposed to cooking at home on your day(s) off.