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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tampa Dining: Boizao Steakhouse

Editor's update: This once popular Brazilian-style restaurant sits dark and empty. On August 23, 2013, and with little fanfare, Boizao closed its doors.
The phone at the restaurant has been disconnected and the company's website has been removed from the Internet.

The signature open fire pit, for now, has cooked its last meal.  A banner that used to advertise specials sits crumpled in the dining room, discarded valet parking tickets litter the mulch and garbage cans in the back hold the last bits of thrown out food.

One of the joys in being blissfully unemployed is the latitude to take a civilized afternoon siesta. The TV had just about lulled me to slumberland the other day when I heard the guy on the Cooking Channel say something about the best Brazilian steakhouse in the world located in L.A. That comment woke me up because I have dined at the best Brazilian steakhouse in the world and it wasn't in Lower Alabama.

After watching the show for a few minutes I came to the realization that this commentator was referring to Los Angeles. Well, whoop-dee-do. For those of us who grew up in the Florida Panhandle, L.A. was just to the north of us, but the point here is that the best Brazilian steakhouse is right here in Tampa...not Lower Alabama or Los Angeles.

We have dined at the Boizao Steakhouse on probably five or more occasions and each visit has been consistently wonderful...a bit pricey, but wonderful. We usually start our evening with the signature cocktail, the Caipirinha, made with limes and cachaca, a sugar cane derived spirit reminiscent of a North Georgia corn likker I had years ago. One or two of these potent beverages can certainly put one in a Brazilian state of mind.

The Boizao has a really nifty salad bar that is included in the prix fixe price of the meal or may be enjoyed without the option of meat service. But, you came to an all you can eat steakhouse to dine on salad? There is something morally wrong with that I think. Cholesterol be damned, I go for the beef. The Boizao does serve chicken, pork ribs, lamb, and sausages but for me it is the beef. Besides, I have noticed that the chicken is oft-times a bit overdone by the time it reaches the table.

Like most Brazilian steakhouses the diner is presented with a disk...green on one side, red on the other. Green indicates that your arteries have not clogged up yet, and red announces an impending heart attack...but, what a way to go! There are several different cuts of beef to choose from: top and bottom sirloin, filet mignon, prime rib, but my undisputed favorite is the picanha, a tri-tip that is simply to die for.

The Boizao has an extensive wine cellar that the gaucho-waiters are more than happy to tell you about, sometimes to the point of annoyance. Their recommendations, while good, are usually at the high end of the price spectrum. Peruse the wine list and choose the one in your price range that still pleases your palate.

Desserts and after dinner beverages are available if you have the room. We have ordered both before and have never been disappointed. As I mentioned, the Boizao is not cheap but if you starve yourself for a few days you can probably eat enough to more than break even. I think I am joking here...or, maybe not.

That Brazilian steakhouse in L.A. may have been the best the the Cooking Channel guy ever went to, but he really should pay a visit to the Boizao in Tampa. He might change his mind.

One final thought: I read several reviews that mentioned valet parking as a negative. We have eliminated that as an issue. When we leave the paradise that is SOG City, we request a taxi from Cab Plus. Voila! No parking problems, and no worries about a DUI after a bottle of Malbec and a Caipirinha.

Boizao Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

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