I get really protective when it comes to restaurants I really, really, really love. I have no problem talking about my dining experiences anywhere else (good or bad) but when it comes to joints that I am absolutely head-over-heels for, I become hesitant to blog about them. Call it my culinary “I-don’t-kiss-and-tell” reaction when it comes to real love, or simply my selfishness to want to keep the hidden secret all to myself.
Sampa Grill, a Brazilian churrascaria located on Ventura Blvd. in Encino, is one of these special places that I’ve dined a several times in the past but never talked about until now. Why the change of heart? Maybe because I feel it’s time that everyone experience the pure culinary delight of this hidden gem. I’ve never been to Fogo de Chao, the super popular Brazilian BBQ with more than 20 restaurants in both U.S. and Brazil, so I am no expert on this type of dish, but I have been to a real, authentic churascaria in Brazil, so that should give me a little street cred in the meat department. Well, let me tell you … Sampa Grill gets an A+ in my book.
My boyfriend and I discovered this place a few years ago when it first opened, while looking for a place to eat on one of the iPhone apps, Urban Spoon. We weren’t particularly craving for meat that night but we were looking for a new place to try, and when we were done, we walked away with our new favorite restaurant! We were impressed with the friendly service (and many cute waiters, ladies) and the quality and quantity of the food. Since then, I took my family here to celebrate my mother’s birthday last year. The meats are prepared with salt and pepper only, and although you’ll never find a BBQ sauce here, the real flavor of the meat is enough to satisfy any hardcore carnivores. You won’t miss A1 or any other sauce that will take away the real flavors of the meat.
I made an homage to this gastro heaven last week because I just had to take Maya, another serious meat eater, to experience this true awesomeness while she was in town. I knew she would love it. 🙂 We got there just before the last lunch seating at 2:00 p.m. but there were still plenty of great appetizers, as well as hot food like my favorite sausages and black bean called Feijoada, at the bar to enjoy, before the endless servings of meat came by our table in a giant sword-like skewers.
This little toy-like tool placed at each table allows us to prompt our hunger level! The green means “more meat,” and red means “I am so full, I need to take a nap!”
I got California Roll, pasta salad, beets, caprese salad, Feijoada, and more, from the salad bar!
I enjoyed chicken, picanha (the prime-cut of sirloin), and tri-tip.
Look at these fine meats …
I absolutely love these little cheese puffs called Pao de Quejo. When you bite into it, you will be welcomed with soft and chewy cheese! I can eat these all day.
We managed to squeeze in a coconut flan for dessert. The plum sauce was not that good but the flan itself was amazing, with coconut chunks at the bottom!
Now that the secret has been unveiled, do yourself a favor and make a trip to Sampa Grill. It’s a guarantee good time and good eats for you and your family!
16240 Ventura Blvd., Encino, CA 91436