When folks dine out these days, especially families, they too often have to decide whether they prefer quality or quantity. How do you sample a variety of fresh, tasty items, avoid paying big bucks, and without ending up at a chain eatery?
It’s a challenge. But it can be done, especially in the Merrimack Valley, where there are so many ethnic dining options.
Consider, for example, Picanha’s Brazilian Grill in downtown Nashua. The restaurant, which has been open since February, makes it easy for a couple to enjoy a cocktail, stuff themselves like the guests of honor at a pig roast, share a dessert and finish the night with a bill under $60.
Like many Brazilian restaurants in the Merrimack Valley, Picanha’s specializes in a buffet menu, but it’s different from the all-you-can-eat places I’ve visited. The dinner options cater to most palates, though, truth to tell, they seem to tilt in favor of the dedicated carnivore.
The full dinner treatment is a fun night out. For $29.99, you get an unlimited amount of food, including as many as 10 different grilled meats, as well as a long buffet table of fresh fruits, salads, vegetables, stews and a variety of rice.
Place your dining card green side up, and a chef will be at your table in short order with a long skewer of something hot off the grill that will be sliced for you until you say stop. It might be sirloin or pork sausage or chicken wrapped in bacon, or … well, you get the idea.
Picanha’s offers other menu options that may be more family friendly. For $7.99 a pound, diners can enjoy the salad bar and buffet table, which includes homemade black beans with sausage, spare ribs and more.
Or for $9.99 a pound, you get the same buffet table option as well as a selection of the grilled meats available with the unlimited buffet. For people on any kind of a keto diet, this is catnip. They can load up on meat, meat, nothing but meat, and get away with a check that would be hard to match elsewhere.
I opted for the by-the-pound platter with the grilled meats option. I sampled two kinds of sirloin, chicken wings, pork sausage, creamy mashed potatoes, addictive plantains, the recommended homemade Brazilian potato salad (nothing too exotic, just nicely herbed), and, well, most everything else previously noted.
The idea was to sample most items rather than pile ’em high. Nevertheless, I was almost ready to explode at meal’s end and had a borderline case of the “meat sweats,” in this instance a good thing!
Here’s the kicker: At $9.99 a pound, my repast cost me a measly $15.88. Now, there are some caveats tucked into all of this: You may not always be able to get the grilled meats the way you prefer them. The chicken wings, for example, were a little dry. Other items were a tad salty. But overall, it was a good bang for the buck.
My wife and I split a coconut flan ($7) for dessert, something whipped up from an old family recipe that had more body than your typical flan, and flavor to spare.
Pichanha’s has created a casual, relaxed atmosphere to enjoy their buffet. Richly-hued wooden chairs and festive yellows dominate the space, which can accommodate nearly 60 diners. There is also a small bar area smack in the middle of the single dining room.
Care for big fresh flavors and value for a relatively small check? Try Picanha’s.
Picanha’s Brazilian Grill
Tuesday to Thursday: 4 to 9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sunday: 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.