Hollywood has never been much of a destination for Brazilian food, save for the popular late-night scene at Bossa Nova, a successful Los Angeles chain serving Brazilian and International cuisine around town. The traditional hearts of the region’s Brazilian cuisine have been Palms and Redondo Beach — at least until recent years when açai shops and other Brazilian restaurants began pushing into new neighborhoods and pushing beyond the churrascaria. Los Angeles now boasts contemporary Brazilian cuisine, churrascarias, regional restaurants, lanchonete-style diners, açai shops, espetinhos (meat skewer restaurants), and Brazilian street food stands across its vast landscape, but few had touched down in Hollywood before 2020.
During the pandemic, Brazilian food in Hollywood and adjacent Koreatown has had a growth spurt by way of a trio of cloud kitchens and take-out restaurants: LA Brazilian Flavors (a ghost kitchen), Brazilian BBQ Team, and now W Brazilian Steakhouse. The W is for Western Avenue, where the busy mini-churrascaria initially set up as a cloud kitchen before transforming into LA’s most approachable rodízio, which means rotating service. Father and son Korean Brazilian entrepreneurs Chul and Eriky Moon (who previously owned Barbacoa, a Brazilian Steakhouse in Santa Clarita back in 2007) have opened an affordable, unique churrascaria that has “evolved organically” in Koreatown, and along the way have inadvertently helped Hollywood to earn one of its most interesting Brazilian options in years.
“We thought we’d do it as a ghost kitchen with a take-out concept, given the labor shortages and uncertainty for the future of dine-in during the ongoing pandemic,” says co-owner Eriky Moon, “but people kept asking if we were open for sit down service.” Indeed, with an abbreviated churrascaria menu and tableside salad bar service, W Brazilian Steakhouse seems to have found its groove with onsite dining in the past few months.
Now it’s all hands on deck between the pair; even Eriky’s mom Kae Moon has jumped in, preparing many of the restaurant’s hot dishes. “My uncle came to us with the recipe for pão de queijo made in a waffle iron,” says Eriky, “and he also gave us his waffle iron, which we still use. It’s a clever way to be efficient with space while still making delicious, chewy Brazilian cheese bread — a model also seen at Montrose’s Valeu Espetos.
“By keeping the salad bar menu short, and only serving a half dozen meats, we’ve worked out a system that makes this price work,” says Eriky. For $39.99 at dinner and $32.99 at lunch, diners get all-you-can-eat picanha, garlic picanha, baby beef (considered a tender, noble cut at Brazilian churrascarias selected from the top sirloin), pork belly, and a pair of grilled sausages, all carved tableside by the lone gaucho.
Space is limited inside the small restaurant so there’s no room for a traditional buffet bar, meaning Eriky and other servers shuttle salads, beans, rice, mashed potatoes, steamed corn, and sweet, peppery stroganoff de carne on a tableside cart. Diners are limited to 90 minutes to enjoy the food, though the gaucho gets the meat out at a fair pace. And with hot and cold dishes arriving as you grab the first slices of picanha with churrascaria tongs, you’ll be feeling quite satisfied well before the time limit is up.
For now, there’s no alcohol (though a liquor license is in the works), and there are plans for a charcoal grill to come to this accidental, petite churrascaria in K-Town. There’s also no chicken on the menu, which still takes some diners by surprise. “We tried different recipes but we weren’t happy with any of the chicken cuts,” says Eriky. “They’re too dry given our current setup.”
Reservations are recommended at this six-table restaurant, though it’s also possible to walk in and loudly plead one’s case within earshot of seated diners. Perhaps with a bit of verbal elbowing, they’ll move their post-dinner conversation over to one of Koreatown’s many other options, including the nearby Biergarten or Coffee Signal. Leaving early is a civic duty at W Brazilian Steakhouse because a deal like this is too good to keep to one’s self.
W Brazilian Steakhouse is open at 147 N. Western Ave. in Koreatown, keeping lunch through dinner hours (closed Sundays). Call (323) 380-7352 for reservations.