Giraffas is beginning its U.S. domination with the first stateside location in North Miami (1821 NE 123rd St.) opening Monday. The 30-year-old Brazilian chain operates about 350 restaurants across the country, selling steaks and burgers in the "fast-casual" reformatting that has proven popular lately. The chain touts words like balanced and healthy lifestyle, and offers nutritional tips on its website; apparently carbohydrates should equal "50% of the diet composition." Yeah, carbs must be what all of those Brazilian swimsuit models are eating.
From tri-tip steak to NY strip to filet mignon, Giraffas is a meat specialist. Apparently the chain is superfamous in Brazil for its "Classics," a grouping of burgers and chicken sandwiches that has been around since 1981. Basically we're talking about a chicken fillet that has all kinds of delicious on top. The "Estrangeiro" does a mix of sweet, salty, and spicy, with smoky bacon, pineapple and tomato slices, lettuce, and a mysterious chipotle sauce ($7.90). A hangover cure on a bun comes in the form of the "Galo de Briga" (which means "fighting cock"), which packs cheese, bacon, and a fried egg ($7.90) under the hood.
The company has kept the American market in mind, adapting the menu to include an array of salads and pastas. Spaghetti gets topped with a choice of proteins: chicken, shrimp, salmon, or the house specialty, filet tips ($12.90). The menu is user-friendly, with basic grilled chicken ($9.40) and salmon ($13.90) also listed. On the lighter side, get a heap of quinoa topped with greens ($9.90) or shrimp ($12.90), which comes with a side of bruschetta.
The theme goes long here. Giraffes are everywhere -- on the walls, and even the door handles are shaped like little giraffes with knife and fork feet. The place reeks of happy, with brightly colored décor ranging from lime green to acid orange. Modern lighting fixtures accentuate a high ceiling, which makes us wonder what the noise level will be like once things really get going.
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The plan is to open additional Giraffas throughout South Florida, but the next locale is primed for the Shops at Midtown Miami. Construction is already underway on the strip that also houses 100 Montaditos; Buena Vista Avenue is quickly becoming a fast-casual haven.
1821 NE 123rd St., North Miami