Editor’s Note: Sadly, this restaurant has closed due to the Coronavirus pandemic, as have many other restaurants in the United States. Please patronize your local restaurants for take-out orders (if you cannot currently dine-in) and tip generously. The restaurant industry is hurting and our support can make a difference.
The Pleasures of Brazil
Welcome to Porto Do Sul, located in Overland Park KS, a suburb of Kansas City. Owners, Leonice and Edson Ludwig warmly welcome you to experience their authentic Brazilian steakhouse, Porto Do Sul Churrascaria. It is a Rodízio, an all-you-can-eat style of restaurant.
The Ludwigs are both from small farming communities in Southern Brazil. They grew up helping with the harvest and enjoying fresh, wholesome food.
Edson’s early career was working in the slaughterhouses of southern Brazil where he learned the fine art of meats. When he met Leonice, he was working as a mechanic for the company and she was a company nurse.
In 2003, Edson moved to the states, working for a well-known national Churrascaria chain, Fogo de Chão. Leonice and their two sons followed a year later. After more than a decade working for the chain, the Ludwigs went out on their own.
It was equal parts scary and exciting to create the Churrascaria concept they now own and operate based on all they had learned and the experience they wanted to create and share. Leonice says, “I like it. I love it. I do not see my life not being here.”
Leonice who has formal training from the International Culinary School in Chicago and as creator of numerous recipes for Fogo de Chão, is the creator of the many, many wonderful dishes at Porto Do Sul.
Edson has valuable experience as a general manager and had the opportunity to introduce Fogo de Chão to new patrons in a number of places.
Now, they welcome you to Porto Do Sul for a taste of Brazil.
The Country of Brazil
Brazil, officially Federative Republic of Brazil, Portuguese República Federativa do Brasil, occupies half of South America’s landmass. It is the fifth largest country in the world, exceeded in size only by Russia, Canada, China, and the United States. It is also the fifth most-populous country on Earth and accounts for one-third of Latin America’s population.
Most of the Amazon River basin, which has the world’s largest river system and the world’s most-extensive virgin rainforest is located in Brazil. The country has no desert, high-mountain, or arctic environments.
The South (Sul) Region of Brazil (Portuguese: Região Sul do Brasil) is one of five geographical regions of Brazil and where Edson and Leonice were raised. It includes the states of Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul.
Large numbers of European immigrants (Portuguese, Italian, Germany) came to the region during the 19th century. Portuguese, the official language of Brazil, is spoken by the entire population. But in some places, dialects of German or Italian origins are also spoken.
The region is comprised of bustling cities, quaint European style towns such as Morretes, the ruins of old missions, the oldest public university in Brazil, beautiful beaches of Santa Catarina and the amazing Iguaça Falls or “Big Water”, an incredible natural attraction of 275 waterfalls of various sizes, making it a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
The Foods of Brazil
The country is essentially self-sufficient in basic foodstuffs and is a leading exporter of a wide range of crops. About one-third of the world’s oranges are grown in Brazil—more than twice the amount produced in the United States, which is the world’s second major supplier. Brazil is also the world’s main producer of cassava and a leading grower of beans, corn (maize), cacao, bananas, and rice.
Brazil has one of the world’s largest livestock populations (at more than 200 million) and slaughters more cattle annually than does the United States. The most extensive grazing lands are concentrated in the South and Southeast, with a smaller but increasing share in northern states and frontier zones, such as Amazonia. Brazil also produces great quantities of poultry; both poultry and meat are important exports.
Eating in Brazil is an absolute pleasure. Just like the country itself, Brazilian cuisine is vibrant, colorful, diverse, and exciting. The Southern region of Brazil has a distinct European flavor. If the cuisine from the Brazilian Southern region could be defined in one word, this word would be churrascaria (shur-hawz-car-ree-ah), the Portuguese name for barbecue.
While Kansas Citians are used to low-and-slow barbecue, Brazilians do a hot-and-fast style of cooking. Instead of rubs, Brazilians use little to no spices, mainly sal grosso or coarse sea salt to season the meat and then it is cooked on iron skewers directly over the fire to bring out the delicious flavor.
Just as there is fierce competition in the United States over who has the best barbecue, Brazil and Argentina both claim to be South America’s barbecue champion. Each country takes a different approach to its meat, from the cuts to the accompaniments,
In Brazil, premium cuts (the most popular being picanha, or rump cap) are seasoned with no more than a liberal shake of coarse salt, before being grilled to pink perfection over charcoal (or wood, if you’re doing it the old-fashioned Southern way). It is a mouthwatering, superbly tasty experience.
Porto Do Sul offers 15 premium cuts including mouthwatering rib-eye, beef ribs, filet mignon, top sirloin (picanha), lamb chops, finely spiced pork sausage and chicken drums wrapped in bacon, all prepared and grilled to perfection.
The Gaucho Chefs bring each cut, one-by-one, to your table and carefully slices the meat to your preferred doneness.
Service continues until you wish to pause, or you have had your fill!
The full dining experience at Porto do Sul starts with a visit to the Harvest Table where you can find an abundance of cheeses, salads, vegetables, warm dishes, and more.
The Harvest Table includes 55 hot and cold dishes. Hot dishes include feijoada, meatballs, rice with shredded meats, eggplant Parmesan and you mustn’t overlook Leonice’s chicken noodle soup made from her Grandmother’s recipe. Cold dishes include an amazing array of seasonal vegetables, potato salad and small Brazilian peppers that are always in demand. Then, there is the divine cheese bread.
Feijoada, a national dish, is a rich, hearty stew of black beans and different cuts of pork and other meats. It is slow cooked and can take up to 24 hours to perfectly prepare. It is usually served with orange salad, white rice, farofa (ground manioc), and couve (kale), a dark green leafy vegetable that is diced and cooked until slightly crispy.
Pão de Queijo, the Brazilian “cheese bread”, are light, fluffy gluten-free rolls that became popular in the 1950s though the recipe dates back centuries. The dough is made from cassava flour and Queijo Minas, a Brazilian soft cheese. They can be eaten at any time of the day as a snack and they are also popular for breakfast, served with cheese and jam.
If you are looking for something Brazilian to whet your appetite, try the caipirinha (kai-pee-reen-yuh, made from muddled limes, sugar, Brazilian rum, known as Cachaca (kah-shah-shuh), and ice.
Porto Do Sul offers variations on the caipirinha theme, including pineapple, passion fruit and strawberry.
And, if that doesn’t appeal to you, you can enjoy a wide selection of wines including a Kansas wine, Somerset Ridge, that perfectly pairs.
Edson and Leonice thoroughly enjoy bringing you the best of Brazilian food and drink. They also look for ways to engage in the local community. It was on an excursion to local wineries they discovered Somerset Ridge and talked with the owners, Dennis and Cindy Reynolds. There is now a warm friendship.
“They are so kind and work so hard to create an inviting Brazilian experience. It is now one of our favorite places to stop for a sumptuous Harvest Table lunch or host a party”, says Cindy Reynolds.
Wines to Enjoy
Somerset Ridge Wines
Pineapple, Passion Fruit, Strawberry Caipirinha
And, now if you need just a bit of a sweet to end this incredibly delicious dining experience, then try a Brigadeiro Brazilian truffle in an edible chocolate tulip cup, creme brulee, passion fruit mousse, or a flan from grandma’s recipe! Leonice reports that the Flan is one of her best sellers and I know why having had the opportunity to enjoy it.
Plus enjoy a flaming tableside display when you order Cai-Café, a brilliant combination of rum, coffee liqueur and hot Brazilian coffee topped with whipped cream.
From Brazil to Kansas City
Edson and Leonice first moved to Chicago and eventually were transferred to Kansas City. After nine years, they became US citizens. When they decided it was time to strike out on their own and open their own Brazilian steakhouse, Leonice was not convinced she wanted to stay in Kansas City.
Then they found the perfect spot, in a high traffic, growing area and the rest is history!
The moment you see Porto Do Sul from the road, you know that it is going to be more than an everyday sit-down restaurant.
When you walk through the door, you will see an small intimate bar off to your right, you will hear the Brazilian music setting the stage for your visit and you will find the gauchos ready to welcome you, describe the experience you should expect and begin to serve your wishes.
A different restaurant concept had been in the location before. Edson and Leonice re-designed the entire restaurant so guests can enjoy a quick lunch from the Harvest Table, an intimate dining experience or a larger gathering in one of their private rooms.
Porto Do Sul is located to draw people from all over the Kansas City metro area. They may be Americans who have visited Brazil or Brazilians who want a taste of home. There are many loyal customers as well as those who come for a special occasion or those who have a specific diet to follow like gluten free or Keto.
One of those loyal guests has visited 84 times since the doors opened! And, just recently, 100 Brazilians came to a gathering at Porto Do Sul.
Leonice and Edson have learned how they work best together. Leonice is the sous chef and creates new menu dishes. She also manages the finances of the restaurant. Edson manages the gauchos and is there to engage guests as little or as much as they wish. Whether you are young or old, they will make accommodations.
They work hard to provide an authentic Brazilian steakhouse experience. And, they recognize guests may not always be interested in their famous rodizio each time they want a taste of Brazilian food, so they have developed many ways for guests to enjoy Brazilian foods.
You can choose to visit the Harvest table laden with more than 50 Brazilian foods, a full menu experience that includes the Harvest table and 15 premium meat cuts, a “lighter” menu experience that includes the Harvest table and 10 premium meat cuts, a by the pound option where you choose exactly what you want and how much you want, a happy hour and bar food option where you can order mini picanha house sliders, spicy drunken shrimp, feijoada, chicken noodle soup, a charcuterie board or fried polenta, a takeout option that includes picanha house special sandwich, beef tenderloin or shrimp skewer, a sampler platter, a quinoa salad and more and catering for corporate events and entertaining. They also are part of the DoorDash program.
And, Leonice plans for seasonal needs and wishes. As an example, during Lent, you can find a number of additional fish and seafood options on the Harvest Table and as part of the full menu experience such as coconut fish, seafood chowder, salmon, shrimp and lobster tails.
There are always specials during holidays or by season. And, Leonice and Edson invite you to experience Porto Do Sul during Restaurant Week.
So, what is next for Edson and Leonice. They would love to have their children follow in their footsteps. The children appreciate the benefits and the labor of love that has been devoted to the business but are not quite sure they are ready. In the meantime, Leonice is dreaming of a rodízio style breakfast concept.
They invite you to Porto Do Sul to enjoy a little piece of Brazil. Come hungry and have all your senses ready to enjoy the pleasures of Brazilian food. “It is a gift I am giving you”, says Leonice.
Porto Do Sul
11900 Metcalf Ave,
Overland Park, KS 66213
Monday – Thursday 11am – 9 pm
Friday – Saturday 11am – 9:30 pm
5 pm – 8:00 pm
About the Author:
Susan K Spaulding loves to share the stories of others and believes that each of us has a powerful life story to tell. Sharing the stories of immigrants who are now successful restauranteurs is inspiring and mouthwatering. Susan is part of a multicultural family with a Japanese brother-in-law, a Canadian sister-in-law and a Peruvian sister-in-law along with the many multi-cultural family members. She traveled around the world for her business and now does so for pleasure. She enjoys giving diversity a voice and making connections around the globe.
Sources: Norma Palomino;