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Photo: Eli Siegel
Photo: Eli Siegel

Chima Brazilian Steakhouse

An authentic Brazilian churrascaria in the center of Philadelphia. 

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The concept of the churrascaria, meaning a place where meat is cooked in the barbeque style, originated in Southern Brazil where gauchos (cowboys in Portuguese) would consume a diet that consisted almost entirely of meat. This meat would be seasoned, placed on skewers and then cooked slowly in the rotisserie style. This style of eating became a staple of Brazil’s gastronomic culture. Philadelphia has its own churrascaria at Chima Brazilian Steakhouse in Center City.

The restaurant’s name comes from the word chimarrao, a traditional drink of Rio Grande do Sul, that, according to their website, symbolizes hospitality and friendship. The original Chima restaurant was opened by the Silva family in Uberlandia, Brazil. In 2004, they opened another in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and in 2008, the current one in Philadelphia.

Chima operates as an all you can eat buffet consisting of several parts. First, the gooey delicious pao de queijo (cheese bread) is served with a smoked turkey spread. Next, you can go up to the salad bar that serves a wide variety of salads, cold cuts, cheeses, soups and traditional Brazilian hot dishes.

“Our salad bar is different for other Brazilian churrascarias because we offer full blown salads,” explained Angie Gruver, Chima’s Sales and Event Manager.

Finally, the main course is served by waiters bringing around different vegetables and meats on skewers in the rodizio (rotation in Portuguese) style. To signal a waiter to come to your table, you simply flip up your token, specify how well done you would like your meat and then they will place a slice or two on your plate.

“It’s as much as you can eat,” said Gruver. “You can flip your token on and off and back on again when you are ready to indulge.”

Highlights of the 14 skewers available include the picanha (certified angus beef top sirloin), filet mignon, rib eye, flank steak, lamb, beef ribs, boneless chicken, salmon and vegetables. My personal favorite was the pineapple covered in cinnamon.

To have the entire experience including salad bar and all the skewers costs $56.90. If you’d prefer to have less meat for $36.90 you can choose either the top sirloin, salmon or chicken skewer and also have the salad bar, pineapple cinnamon skewer and the vegetable skewer.

An extensive wine list and cocktail menu is available to complete the meal. They offer a wide variety of caipirinhas (Brazil’s national drink made with cachaça, sugar and lime). To finish everything off, there’s chocolate coconut lava cake, key lime pie and banoffee among other options. You can explore all drinks and desserts on an iPad a waiter will bring to your table.

Chima also offers a smaller menu where you can order dishes and drinks separately at their bar. The bar has live music on Wednesday and Thursdays between 6 - 8pm and has Happy Hour specials available between 5 - 7pm.

To learn more about Chima Brazilian Steakhouse, check out their website www.chimasteakhouse.com or their Instagram @chimaphiladelphia. Address: 1901 John F Kennedy Blvd. Philadelphia, PA 19103. Hours: Monday - Thursday 5:30pm to 9:30pm (last seating), Friday 5:30pm to 10pm (last seating) Saturday 4:30 PM - 10:00 PM (last seating)
Sunday 4:00 PM - 9:00 PM (last seating). Prices: $36.90, $56.90, Bar Menu

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