Being greeted by Girl From Ipanema is a good sign of an authentic Brazilian restaurant — one that has been playing traditional bossa nova and jazz music on a stunning white piano since its inception. As a further testament to the restaurant’s authenticity, Via Brasil — which claims to be the oldest Brazilian restaurant in New York — is one of the last of its kind on West 46th Street’s Little Brazil block. Though many of its neighbors have closed, Via Brasil continues to attract diners with a taste for the tropics, lured in by heaping plates of traditional Brazilian fare and endless rounds of the country’s national drink, the caipirinha.
One of the most expansive restaurants in town, this Brazilian steakhouse lives up to its proportions. We first visited the Churrascaria during the 2014 World Cup and, naturally, several screens had been set up and were surrounded by eager soccer fans cheering for Brazil. Green, yellow, and blue filled the room and it was somewhat difficult to discern whether the flags and decorations were permanent pieces or hung up in the spirit of the World Cup. When we returned after the games had ended, the ambience was strikingly different. A calm had settled on the extraordinary, colorful, extensive salad bar, where it is quite easy to have a complete meal. Save room, however, for the unlimited parade of waiters emerging from the kitchen carrying succulent skewers of meat (e. g. bacon-wrapped filet mignon, prime rib, lamb, chicken). Controlled by a green/red circle at each place setting, the diner says "more please" (green) or "cries uncle" (red). Washing it down with a Caipirinha, the signature Brazilian drink, makes for the perfect South American experience.