Rei Do Gado – Celebrate Mardi Gras

| February 1, 2012 | 0 Comments

San Diego’s Annual Restaurant Week has just concluded. Hopefully, many of us took advantage of the reduced prices and terrific values that were offered by almost 200 of our local fine dining establishments. This year’s list of participating restaurants was truly excellent.

One local restaurant that was not on the list, unfortunately, should not escape our attention because it is an excellent venue at which to celebrate Mardi Gras. That is the restaurant Rei Do Gado, in the Gaslamp.

The holiday, which means “Fat Tuesday,” is the last day of feasting before the beginning of Lent. For carnivores, there is no better place for feasting that Rei Do Gado, where the meat keeps coming until one can no longer eat more. It is a “charruscaria.” In fact, it is a “churrascaria de rodízio” because waiters move from table to table bringing different types of meats on skewers from which they slice portions onto plates of diners.

The most famous Mardi Gras celebrations occur in Brazil, particularly Rio de Janiero. Where better to participate here than at a local Brazilian restaurant steakhouse? Mardi Gras this year is on February 21. Plan ahead.

Charruscaria restaurants – and many have become very popular in the United States in the last ten years – serve food based on the diets of the “gauchos”, the cowboys of South America. They ate lots of meat, because it was all around them. Cowboys were usually accompanied by a “chuck wagon”, and a cook would prepare meals. Gauchos barbequed their meat on spits.  The style of cooking was called Churrasco (pronounced shoo-RAS-koo) or Brazilian barbecue.

Very little seasoning is used to prepare the meat. White meats are marinated overnight in a mixture of garlic, salt, and lime juice. The red meats are seasoned with sea salt only. The barbeque is often self-basting. As the spit turns, the juices that come out roll over onto the other side of the meat. The result is tasty and tender.

A meal begins with a visit to the salad bar. There is a wide choice of salad fixings but it is wise not to fill up. When salad plates are picked up, a parade of waiters brings a dozen or more choices of different meats, which are then carved to order at the table off the spit. It couldn’t be hotter or fresher, or tastier.

Meats include beef, chicken, turkey, sausage and lamb. Not all meats listed on the menu may be available at any one particular time.

Expect a lot of meat to fill your plate at Rei Do Gado.

Waiters will keep coming back as often as desired, carving more meat for hungry diners. Wise diners will also save room for the dessert trays, located near the salad buffet.

This is an “all you can eat” arrangement and the food stops coming only when the table raises a small flag. I call it a “flag of surrender.”

The wine list is representative of the more popular labels and pricey by the bottle. Wines are better priced by the glass, featuring a good choice of reds from Chile.

Rei Do Gado is a fun place to dine. The experience of servers cutting chunks of meat off the skewers tableside is different. The variety of meat choices can be overwhelming. The sheer volume of food one may eat is staggering. There is frequent entertainment at night.  Prices depend on the meal (lunch or dinner) and the day of the week. Weekends are more expensive. If one enjoys enough of the meats, this can be a bargain!

Rei Do Gado is located at 939 Fourth Avenue in the Gaslamp. Call 619-702-8464 for information and reservations. Or visit its website at

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