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Fearless Critic restaurant review
Houston
Food
Feel
Price
8.6
8.5
$75
Steakhouse, Brazilian
Upmarket restaurant

Hours
Mon 11:00am–2:00pm
Tue–Thu 11:00am–2:00pm
Tue–Thu 4:30pm–10:00pm
Fri 11:00am–2:00pm
Fri 4:30pm–midnight
Sat 4:30pm–midnight
Sun noon–9:00pm

Features Date-friendly, good wines, outdoor dining
Bar Beer, wine, liquor
Credit cards Visa, MC, AmEx
Reservations Accepted

Website

Downtown
530 Texas Ave.
Houston, TX
(713) 343-1180
Samba Grille
A handsome, excellent churrascaria fit for even pre-theater and lunch crowds

Samba Grille, perhaps more than any other churrascaria in Houston, deserves to prevail. If we sound slightly nervous about its prospects, it’s because this location seems to be cursed, and there are already a jillion equally vibey, modern, and dimly lit steakhouses around it that are competing, too, for the lunchtime and pre-theater hordes. The service seems to bear this slight patina of desperation, and patrons are often directed towards the more expensive bottles on the wine list—which aren’t hard to find, given the outrageous mark-ups. The selection is great, if curiously all-inclusive: grocery-store Torrontés sits (at five times retail) next to fantastic South American, French, and American wines. These are available by the glass from Enomatic-style preservers that keep them alive and fresh; good news, if you’ve just plunked down $25 for a glass.

The meats often outdo their chain-y competitors; even filet mignon has come with a slight ring of fat, adding flavor to this otherwise bland cut. New York strip is dry aged, a rare delight, and rarer still at $39 for 14 ounces. Lamb chops are absolutely outstanding, and fat, juicy burgers are divine. In lieu of a nasty, congealing salad bar, you can choose from a few excellent all-you-can-eat options, like jade soup (spinach and broccoli cream with crabmeat) and zesty gazpacho. A lunchtime 3-course prix fixe is hospitable and quick, and when there’s a show on, Samba extends its hours to lunch Saturday and dinner on Monday.

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