Let’s face it, Mexico City is not an all-you-can-eat kind of town.
No, here people like to sit down to a well-lined table and be served course-by-course.
And if there is a part of the city that is more prone to the all-you-can-eat crowd, it certainly isn’t the Polanco neighborhood and the ritzy Presidente Masaryk thoroughfare.
But then again, Texas de Brazil, which opened late last year in the coveted Newton and Masaryk corner that used to be occupied by the Argentine meat and wine palace Malbec, is not your usual all-you-can-eat restaurant.
In fact, TdB is a bit of a crossbreed between a down-home, family-style, fill-your-plates-to-the-brim eatery and an upscale steakhouse with a 1,000-plus label wine cellar and a corps of “wine angels” that acrobat their way from bottle to bottle with pirouettes and balançoires worthy of Le Cirque du Soleil.
The name of the restaurant itself is a bit of a jolt: Texas de Brazil? In Mexico? Do these people need a crash course in geography?
Well, not quite.
It turns out that the name comes from the fact that the original TdB was opened in Addison, Texas, just outside Dallas, by a Brazilian from the southern pampas of Brazil who wanted to meld the concept of a South American churrascaria and its earthy free-ranged beef with the well-marbled, serve-it-to-me-so-rare-that-it-screams-moo, mega-portions Texas-style steakhouse.
Obviously, when your cross a churrascaria with a steakhouse, the mainstay of the menu is going to be meat, and that is pretty much what you can expect at TdB.
All the beef is imported directly from Brazil, and has a true gaucho tinge, less fatty than U.S. steaks and more tender than the meat of Mexican heifers.
There are also lamb chops and pork loins with a slightly wild, slightly nutty tang that are perfectly complemented by a fiery-hot habanero sauce that is served at every place setting.
Guests are invited to serve themselves from a very well-endowed salad and starters buffet, which is full of unexpected delights like cumin-flavored couscous, rosemary tabbouleh and cashew humus and spiked lobster chowder.
There is also a sushi section that would probably make a purist Nipponese sushi chef turn purple with rage. It includes a range of nontraditional sushi options, including a rice and avocado roll with chipotle sauce topped with chicharrón (pork rinds).
The meat itself is grilled in a glassed-in kitchen where guests can watch it being spun against open flames on large steel rods.
As previously stated, meat is king at TdB (no wimpy, tree-hugging vegetarians welcome here, although the salad bar has enough variety to make a meal of starters), and the restaurant prides itself on 16 cuts to choose from.
Once ready, the meat is brought out and carved into slices a-la-taco-al-pastor style with endless refills and a choice of sauces.
The cuts are all Brazilian, and some are very similar to an Argentine loin, but others are a bit on the exotic side for squeamish diners (think stomach pouch steaks).
The grilled lamb chops are exceptionally tasty, but, alas, there is no mint jelly to complement them.
Ah, but then there are the wines.
Not only do you get that fly-through-the-air-with-the-greatest-of-ease show of the on-duty wine angels gracefully tracking down your particular vintage, but the vins themselves are impressive.
TdB has a wide selection of wines from around the globe, although the cellar is particularly heavy in terms of Mexican and South American labels.
What’s more, Texas de Brazil has its own private label wines made exclusively for the brand by the Santa Rita Vineyards in Chile. (The Malbecs and Shirazes are extraordinary.)
Desserts at TdB are not for the faint-of-heart dieter. We’re talking cholesterol-laden, calorie-packing, so-many-layers-that-an-onion-would-be-jealous cheesecakes, chocolate mousse tarts and Moscato berry tiramisu.
And what better way to close the meal than with a shot of Johnny Walker Blue Label or a Taylor’s Vargellas Vintage 2001, served right at your table. (Someone at TdB knows their liquor!)
Like I said, Texas de Brazil may be an all-you-can-eat steakhouse, but it is a definite step up from your traditional Golden Coral or Ponderosa buffet.
Texas de Brazil restaurant is located at Presidente Masaryk 264 on the corner of Newton in Colonia Polanco, at the Arquímedes roundabout.
It is open Monday through Thursday from 1 p.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m.