Don’t confuse a Brazilian rodizio service with the restaurant called Rodizio Grill.  This is always a confusing thing for people as I’m working as a caterer of Brazilian BBQ.  The restaurant took its name from this style of serving food so its understandable that people get it confused.

A Brazilian rodizio is frequently associated with a style of service where a server distributes meat “In-The-Round” at a Brazilian buffet called a Churrascaria. In a rodizio Service, a team of servers bring meat and other grilled foods on a skewer to your table and slice it fresh from the grill.

This is one of my favorite things when attending a Brazilian restaurant because you simply don’t have to wait for food, you get the meat in the freshest way possible and you don’t have to ever leave your chair during the process.  Below are some other “Pro-Tips” which may be able to enhance your Brazilian rodizio Experience.

How to Pronounce Rodizio?

In Brazilian Portuguese, whenever there is an R that begins a word it goes away from the common “are” sound and takes on an “H” sound.  So, in many places throughout Brazil, it will be pronounced “Hoe-deez-ee-oh”.  

However, there some regions of the country that don’t follow this pattern of speaking and will pronounce it with a heavy rolled “R”  and pronounce it “RRRRRow-deez-ee-oh”.

In the United States, it is completely acceptable to pronounce it “Row-deez-ee-oh”.  This advanced tutorial is for those who want to stretch their linguistic prowess when having a cultural dining experience. 🙂

Rodizio Style Service Vs Rodizio Grill

Diving further into the concept of a rodizio style service, in many Brazilian Barbeque Resturants, the servers will be dressed in traditional Goucho attire.  These Southern Brazilian cowboys are attributed as being the inventors of Churrasco and the rodizio style of service.  They traditionally cook and serve the meat from professional-grade Brazilian Skewers.

A rodizio service doesn’t necessarily have to be associated with the serving of meat in the round.  It could apply to any kind of buffet service where the wait staff brings the meals automatically from the kitchen to your plate.  I personally don’t know if a rodizio service is applied to any other kind of food service.

Rodizio Grill is a Brazilian Churrascaria (Brazilian Steakhouse) that uses a rodizio style of service as it’s primary method of food distribution.  The Rodizio Grill is one of the first that I had ever heard of in the United States so I imagine the name was a super clever branding tactic.

I find myself using the two phrases interchangeably at times.  Like, I will want to go to Tucanos Grill and will tell my wife about going to the rodizio restaurant.  While technically correct, it may be confusing because of the branding.

What does rodizio mean in English?

This is an interesting topic because I’ve always used this word in Portuguese and English and while researching this topic further I looked it up in an online translation program only to find that it is the same word in Portuguese and in English.  

Kind of like trying to say baguette in French, or banana in Spanish.

How does rodizio service work?

In a rodizio style service, you usually get directed to your table and the host or server will take your drink order and ask you if you’ve ever been to their restaurant before.  They will then usually invite you to visit the sides buffet right away where you can fill your plate with traditional Brazilian sides. I love this beginning to the meal because you get to begin eating right away.

Upon returning the real fun begins.  The meat servers begin stopping by your table if your speed indicator is set to green.  In many restaurants, this indicator is either a laminated card with red and green sides, or sometimes it is a wooden dowel painted red and green on either side. 

Green tells the meat servers that you’d like to be included in the meat rotation and s they go from table to table they will be sure to ask if you’d like a slice of whatever they’re serving.  Serving times vary depending on staffing and how busy the restaurant is, but I’ve found most places will serve the meat faster than you have the opportunity to eat it.

If you need to stop or simply take a break from the meat being served, turn the indicator to red. This doesn’t mean you have to stop permanently, it only means you’re taking a break right then.

What kind of food is served in a rodizio service?

The most famous food to be served in a rodizio service is the Brazilian cuts of Meat.  The most popular of this bunch is the nondisputed Picanha! We’ve covered the topic of What is Picanha in this Blog post here.  Check it out to become a Churrasco affectional.  

Did you know that many Churrascarias have food options that aren’t meat on a skewer?  There are many food options that are either not cooked by Brazilian espetos or are unique in the way they are served.

Brazilian Roast Brisket: Many Churrascarias also specialize in the low and slow method of cooking Brisket.  Because of the fats and connective tissue in brisket, it needs to be slow roasted and severed from a platter or bowl.  Many times it’s been cooked so well that it is super tender to the point of falling apart when served with a serving fork.

Fish or Peixe (pay-She): Tucanos serves a breaded fish served with a mango sauce that is amazing in its flavor.  Due to the nature of the fish, you can’t cook it on a skewer. So when the servers are bringing it around in the rodizio it is also usually presented on a platter or in a bowl then served with tongs.

Were you further aware of the “other” skewers you can request sometimes at these locations?  

Brazilian Skewered Chicken HeartsMy wife and I love to request the Chicken Heart skewers whenever we go out to one of these locations.  If I haven’t lost you yet, I believe this is one of the more exotic and tastiest skewers available at a churrascaria.  Slightly chewy these heart muscles are packed with flavor and taste fantastic when you a little acid like lime juice to them. 

I also love ordering the Shrimp Skewers.  The when cooked properly these little morsels come with a fantastic wood flavor char on them and can be dipped in butter giving them the delicious signature flavor and texture you come to expect from any kind of BBQ shrimp.

One food that is rarely cooked on skewers ar a Churrascaria is Chicken Wings.  I love the smokey and crispy skin that gets developed through the cooking process and then later adding my own rub then barbeque sauce.  Because Brazilian Food isn’t often spicy, I usually find myself disappointed that a United States-based Churrascaria will Americanize this method of cooking and cook the wings in a spicy sauce.

How much does a rodizio service cost?

This answer varies greatly between the different Churrascos around the globe. 

Tucanos rodizio service costs around $18 for lunch and $25 for dinner.  

Rodizio Grill rodizio service costs around $23 for lunch and $29 for dinner.

BoiBrazil rodizio service costs around $26 for lunch and $29 for dinner.

Brazeiros rodizio service costs around $32 for lunch and $45 for dinner.

Texas de Brazil rodizio Service costs around $35 for lunch and $50 for dinner.

Espetus rodizio service costs around $44 for lunch and $61 for dinner.

These prices don’t only reflect the quality of service and the quality of the meat, but also the quantity of the menus.  One of the common trends regarding each of these locations the higher the price the higher frequency of expensive cuts of meat that they will include in the rodizio.

For example, when I would visit Brazeiros in Louisville KY, I would get a leg of lamb, beef ribs and pork ribs.  None of these were available on the menu for Tucanos or Rodizio Grill, and the price reflects these availabilities.  

These locations may have specialty cuts they will add to your dining experience if you request and pay extra for them but do not include them into the regular Rodizio flow.  

I hope that this article has helped clarify the differences between the rodizio service apart from the Rodizio Grill restaurant.  I personally feel that the service as a whole is a fast, and efficient way to serve meat to hungry patrons and I’m excited to have had the opportunity to enter this amazing culinary world.