By: Bob Gourley
Getting the family together on the Strip for a great meal is something many enjoy. If you really want to do it with flair, visit Samba Brazilian Steakhouse at the Mirage.
Known as the most popular restaurant for group dining at the hotel, this is definitely an ode to meat - and lots of it.
The open-air restaurant has colorful accents that will remind you of a street in Rio de Janeiro. It tends to be a little noisy as there are no windows, so the hustle and bustle of the casino traffic continues at a relentless pace.
They feature "Rodizio", which has been billed as the "ultimate all-you-can-eat Brazilian-inspired churrasco experience." The concept is simple.
A variety of marinated and grilled meats are brought out on skewers and sliced at the table. Each diner is supplied with some small tongs that are perfect for grabbing the morsels.
On a recent night there were over a half dozen different meats to enjoy. Sirloin Picanha, Chimichurri Flank Steak, roasted pork and pineapple were just a few.
The Lamb Chamuscado was especially good, grilled to perfection and tender as can be. Slow-cooked Linguica sausage was another popular choice with our group.
The selections kept coming and after awhile we had to slow things down by turning over the stop/go marker on the table.
Meat is just part of the total experience. Everyone starts with a plateful of salad that includes garbanzo beans, beets, hearts of palm, kalamata olives, tomatoes and feta cheese.
Sides that are delivered for family-style distribution include black beans, rice, market vegetables and some of the best sweet-fried plantains I have tasted in a long time. A basket of puffy bread morsels were also included. A surprise grilled bread on the skewer was also enjoyed.
If you don't want to spring for the $44.99 per person experience (which is well worth the price) you can also opt for traditional appetizers and entrees. On the starter side are Empanadas de Carne that includes seasoned beef, flaky pastry and house-made sauce.
Beignets de Crabe are chili-crusted crab cakes with avocado and sun-dried tomato salsa. Crispy coconut prawns with fire and ice mango coulis is another choice.
You can get a worthy steak here. In addition to a 16-ounce New York cut is a rib eye or a center-cut filet mignon. Roasted chicken breast might also fit your mood. It is served with Yukon Gold potatoes and fire-roasted ancho chili sauce for a little kick.
A vegetarian stew with seasonal vegetables and beans, kale and orange segments will keep those who want to eschew meat happy. All of the entrees come with the same sides as the Rodizio.
Desserts are a bit of a disappointment. Chocolate Dulce de Leche Parfait which should be a smooth, creamy experience was a little grainy. Other parfaits not sampled include mango and guava, cinnamon citrus cup and coconut passion fruit.
Get your group together and get ready to fill up. Samba is definitely the place.
Samba Brazilian Kitchen, Open every day from 5-10 pm. Mirage Hotel and Casino, 3400 South Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas, (702) 791-7337. www.mirage.com.