Braza Leña, a Brazilian steak house, duplicates the food and culture found in that South American country.

“The South American cowboys, Gauchos, lived in the hills and mountains of Brazil. They had no way to preserve food so they prepared their fresh meats immediately over an open fire,” said server Daniela Valladares.

There are countless dishes but the experience most people come for is the Braza Leña Continuous Dining Experience. It starts with an exceptional salad bar.

Leafy greens like romaine lettuce, crisp iceberg lettuce and baby onions can be the foundation for the salad. Marinated Portobello mushrooms; hearts of palms, sushi and tropical ceviche are some of the lighter items at the salad bar. Further around the massive bar of 50-plus items are meats and cheese, freshly cut Carpaccio and bruschetta next to Brie and havarte cheese. There are also more ethnic dishes featured like Brazilian black beans and pork, farinha and farofa.

If it is your first time, be careful not to fill up on the gourmet salad bar before connecting with the main course.

There are 16 cuts of meat to choose from. Gauchos, men that slice the meat off skewers onto the plate, come by the table to see if a circular coin on the table is flipped to the green side or red side. Green means “go” at Braza Leña and expect the plate to be piled high in just a moment.

Whole sirloin, pork loin, filet mignon wrapped with bacon, roasted leg of lamb and Brazilian sausage are of some of the cuts served. There are two sauces to choose from. The apple mint sauce is brought out specifically for the lamb and chimichurri (garlicky herb and pepper sauce) goes well with the other meat. The sauces are authentic, according to staff.

Wash the meal down with the Brazilian drink, the “cachucha colada.” The savory sweet lime taste offsets the rich food and the sour of the drink combines with the salt of the meat and the Brazilian cachaca alcohol will shake the cobwebs off.

For dessert there is a long list of sweets including their signature Key Lime pie, chocolate cake and papaya and passion fruit-cream.

“The papaya and passion fruit-cream is suppose to make you feel lighter after you just ate a huge meal,” said Valladares.

This article was originally published by the Key West Weekly and written by Alex Press. http://keysweekly.com/42/braza-lena-brings-the-taste-of-brazil-to-the-keys-traditional-cooking-methods-and-service-makes-for-a-new-dining-experience/