By Carlos Osorio
After many months of tracking this casual fast-food Brazilian beast on Twitter, the GFL family decided to visit when they opened up in the Doral area.
The décor is bright, with an open kitchen, whimsical shaped tables and even a bar area with TV screens; perfect for guests dining alone. The line was long enough for us to read the menu off the TV displays for some quick decisions. After ordering, we were handed our cups for drinks and given a number to have our food delivered to our tables.
Our appetizers were delivered fairly quickly, starting with the chicken wings which were served with lime and sauce; these chicken bites were tasty and a hit at the table. We also had their Pao de Queijo, which are hot baked cheese breads.
For our entrées, we chose the Filet Mignon Burger with cheese, and it was tender and perfectly seasoned and came with a side order of salad ($12.30). The Shrimp Moqueca ($10.90) was also a winner. It was, a flavorful shrimp stew with hints of coconut milk and garlic served with rice and fries.
We also had their Brazilian classic burger the “Giraffao” ($12.30), a filet mignon steak sandwich with cheese, bacon, egg, lettuce, tomato and mayo, that came with a side of fries. Giraffas prides itself in the fact that their red meats are never frozen, giving all their burgers a fresh taste. (FYI: All entrées mentioned in this review include sides of your choosing.)
To end the feast, we had the Petit Gateu for dessert, a warm flavor filled chocolate cake with dulce de leche ice cream and bit of raspberry sauce. So good!
We should mention that although we were feeling carnivorous on this visit, their Quinoa & Green salads are very popular ($9.90) and served with optional chicken, shrimp, steak or salmon.
Overall Giraffas in the Doral area is definitely standing tall for locals, and as they walk forward we hope they maintain and duplicate the same quality and standards in Wynwood, Pinecrest, and the four additional South florida locations.
9690 NW 41st St, Doral, FL 33178
Sunday – Thursday: 11am – 10pm
Friday – Saturday: 11am – 12am
Visit their website for other South Florida Locations:
Greatfoodlist.com contributor Josie Gulliksen, speaks with U.S. CEO Of Brazilian Chain Giraffas, Joao Barbosa.
Joao Barbosa says, “Giraffas’s aggressive expansion in U.S. means more Brazilian food ‘with a twist’”
With a solid 31-year presence in Brazil, Giraffas Restaurant has been making an indelible mark on the South Florida restaurant landscape since 2011, when they opened their first United States location in North Miami.
The carefully planned expansion into the U.S. began in 2006 prior to the economic crisis.
“We were having serious troubles because the properties were expensive before the economic crisis,” said Joao Barbosa, Giraffa’s U.S.-based CEO. “We did not have the recognition in the U.S. that we have in Brazil nor the brand awareness, and the price points were very high.”
They opened two locations in 2012 in Midtown and Pinecrest and in 2013 opened four locations, two in Broward in Pembroke Pines and Pompano, their top-selling location in Doral and one in Orlando.
From the beginning, North Miami saw 90% Brazilian and 10% Hispanic local clientele because of the built-in brand awareness with Brazilians. And it was a similar experience at all the other locations.
As for future expansion their goal is to have 200 restaurants throughout the United States in the next five to six years. Barbosa said, “We understand that we must pay close attention to US consumers, offering more than just Brazilian food which primarily consists of meat so our menu also includes fish, chicken, and salads.”
“Regarding the Giraffas burgers we serve, they are 100% Picanha cut, Brazil’s top sirloin and the most famous. They have tremendous flavor. Even our quinoa salad — served with plump grilled shrimp — is done with carrots, corn, onions, parsley and is very moist, because it features Brazilian style vinaigrette. That’s our Brazilian twist,” he said.
Wanting to ensure continued success with their U.S. expansion, they are using their first three years here to make adjustments and tweaks to their restaurant concept and menu as well as validating their financial structure. “In the near future we plan to have opportunities to franchise with groups of multi-unit operators. This will make it easier to manage than restaurants run by individual operators,” he said.
So far this year, they opened a Cypress Creek location in January with ones in Fort Lauderdale and Coral Springs slated for March. In May they plan to open four additional locations in Central Florida, with further plans in 2015 to expand throughout the Northeast U.S.
Soon the rest of the U.S. will discover what we here in South Florida already know – that Giraffas serves up delectable and unexpectedly different Brazilian fare in a relaxed, fast-casual restaurant environment.