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Behind the Gourmet Table is where all the magic (meat) happens.EXPAND
Behind the Gourmet Table is where all the magic (meat) happens.
Natasha Yee

First Taste: Galeto Brazilian Steakhouse in Chandler Has the Meats

When a new spot opens in town, we can't wait to check it out — and let you know our initial impressions, share a few photos, and dish about some menu items. First Taste, as the name implies, is not a full-blown review, but instead a peek inside restaurants that have just opened, sampling a few items, and satisfying curiosities (yours and ours).

Restaurant: Galeto Brazilian Steakhouse
Location: 825 North 54th Street, Chandler
Open: About 10 months
Eats: All-you-can-eat meat parade
Price: $37.95 to 49.95 per person
Hours: 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 5 to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday

Galeto Brazilian Steakhouse, which opened its doors in December of last year, is tucked behind a strip mall on Ray Road just off Interstate 10 in Chandler (across the way from the Ice Den). Two clear glass doors open to an unceremonious host stand with a keen greeter.

“Do you have reservations tonight?”

Though the answer was clearly no, the hostess humored us. As she showed us to our table, we couldn’t help but notice the desolate state of the formal dining room.

White tablecloths, check. Servers decked out in white button-downs with black slacks and black vests, check. Black linen napkins with shiny silverware and gleaming glasses, check. Patrons enjoying this immense Brazilian steakhouse on a Monday night? Not so check.

Two menus were presented to the table — one for wine and one for cocktails — as the food would come soon enough. The server approached us and went over the process. Apparently happy hour runs from 5 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday, but nobody mentioned it during our meal.

One could choose between two experiences here — the Gourmet Table for $37.95, or the Full Churrasco, which includes aforementioned the Gourmet Table, for $49.95.

Think of the Gourmet Table as one of the fluff spreads at a Vegas buffet. There are grilled veggies and spinach and cured meats and cheeses, hearts of palm, prosciutto-wrapped melon, pickled olives, various combinations of tomato and mozzarella. If eating animals is not your thing, you could probably make a meal of this — though it shouldn’t be your first choice.

But we drove to the east Valley for a feast. And if Arby’s would step aside for a moment, this place could reasonably change its slogan to “Galeto: We have the meats.” I was going Full Churrasco, vegan fantasies be damned.

Flip your sign to let the gauchos know if you want more beef, pork, chicken, or lamb.EXPAND
Flip your sign to let the gauchos know if you want more beef, pork, chicken, or lamb.
Natasha Yee

There are little circular paper signs at each place setting. Green means go, red means no. When young gentlemen, or "gauchos," in fiery blouses approach the dining room, they present their meat offering to the green signs. Bacon-wrapped chicken? Yes. Leg of lamb? Absolutely. Brazilian sausage? Sure, why not? If you choose to partake in that selection, the gaucho shaves a piece of meat off the skewer and onto your eager plate.

Churrasqueira, which originated in Brazil in the 17th century, is the country's version of barbecue, where meat is fire-roasted over hot stone coals. Churrasco (say it with me: choo-has-sco) cooking is said to have originated with some type of beef, though Galeto serves up chicken, lamb, and pork as well.

So let's get down to the nitty-gritty.

There were many meats, some better than others. One gaucho told us that they serve 16 varieties, though 12 are listed on the actual menu. The lamb chops were the hands-down favorite, juicy and tender, cooked to medium perfection. Pork sausage had a crisp outside and tender filling, but wasn't notable. Leg of lamb was shaved off the skewer and almost as impressive as the lamb chop.

Filet mignon was a bit dry, nothing to write home about here. Chicken drumsticks were flavorful and succulent, prime rib nice and fatty, the way it should be. It's worth noting that the fatty cuts of meat tend to do better here — everything is charred and the gauchos shave the meat from the outside in. There's bacon-wrapped chicken and filet mignon, and bacon lovers should go for both.

As bellies filled, the next decision was to figure out which way to turn the sign (if we turned it to no, then a magical piece of charred unicorn came our way, would we be missing out?). We couldn't help but think Ron Swanson would love this place.

A caipirinha ($12), Brazil's national cocktail, was also ordered. Made with cachaça, sugar, and lime, we hoped its acidity would cut through some of the sustenance.

Our server told us that the restaurant fills up on weekends, and we pictured hungry families and voracious meat eaters turning signs from red to green as their appetites came in for a second wave.

We get the charm of Galeto. It's not the least expensive or most hip experience in town, but where it lacks in style, it makes up for in ... meat.

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