Exploring the Culinary Culture of Madison, Wisconsin and Surrounding Area

Samba Brazilian Grill Review

By on September 19, 2008 in Dinner, Downtown, Featured, Reviews with 5 Comments

Summary:  Samba Brazilian Grill satisfies the carnivore crowd with meat-on-a-stick panache. 

Brazilian Steakhouses have sprung up around the country, and Madison’s representative in the category does not disappoint.  While it doesn’t fit the bill for a quiet, intimate dinner for two, Samba Brazilian Grill has enough flair to qualify as a special occasion spot, a place to wine and dine your business associates, or as a nice dinner out with friends.  

Sitting down to dinner at Samba means learning a new dining process.  There’s little ordering to be had – just show up and the staff has a pretty good idea that you are there for the meat-on-a-stick.  And you don’t need to tell them exactly what meat you are there for – you get any and all of it, in whatever quantity you wish.  The protein feast is supported by the unlimited and plentiful salad bar , which beckons diners with a wide variety of dishes.  If you are not a carnivore, you can order only the salad bar for a reduced price, forgoing the protein bingefest.  The salad bar alone contains over forty items.

The nightly grilled meats vary, but often include various marinaded versions of flank steak, tenderloin, pork cuts, various preparations of chicken, duck and other poultry, different sausages, and more. 

The servers come around to the tables with the skewers of meat dishes, carving portions out per diner.  The restaurant encourages a leisurely experience, providing a wooden baton colored with red and green ends.  Want to take a break from the meat making the rounds?  Simply flip the baton red side up, and the servers will leave you alone.  As long as the green end is up, you are going to be offered a serving of every piece of meat that comes off of the grill.

We enjoyed our trip to Samba.  The various cuts of meat were flavorful and high quality.  The salad bar, while extensive, wasn’t as exotic or satisfying as we thought it might be.  Then again, we were not there for the salad bar, to be honest.

We’ve been to Brazilian Steak Houses around the country.  Samba ranks up there with all of them.


Mad Diner Ratings:

Overall Rating:

Restaurant Details:
240 West Gilman Street

Food service:
Sunday through Friday
from 5-10 pm  
from 4-10 pm  
Sunday Brunch:
10am – 2:30pm



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There Are 5 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Heather says:

    We’ve been to Samba three times this year, and their ‘little sister’ restaurant/bar once. Overall, Samba is an event best experienced with a group of 6-8 friends. It’s not intimate dining, although the bar is one of the most beautiful in Madison, and moderately priced, to boot.

    The space is flat-out gorgeous, although navigating the staircase with a full plate from the salad bar can be tricky!

    The last time we tried Samba, we ate only the salad bar, and honestly, it was more than enough food. We’ve been pleased with the service, and enjoyed watching at least a couple of the gauchos (!!)..

  2. dining says:

    Wow this place is a feast for any meat eater! Id love to try it but it is a little too far to travel for myself. Id love to hear of other readers experiences if you went to try it.

  3. gv says:

    I’ve been there once before and cannot wait to go back. This is definitely a meat-fest. The salad bar is great too. The interior is nice and the time I went, a jazz band was playing on the stage. I’m not sure if this is daily or just some days.

    You should try a little bit of every meat item, then just get the one you like most. I liked them all but stayed away from the chicken because unlike Lamb, I can chicken any day.

  4. Kandm says:

    We travel all over the country eating at restaurants priced from expensive to moderate…this place is way over priced for what you get. If you like overcooked, dry, and minimially flavored meats, well then: this is the place for you!

    To start off your evening you get to drive all around downtown Madison seeking the elusive parking space. Your first course is a healthy helping of pure frustration. Hey, has anyone at Samba thought about valet parking??? Once you are seated, you get the opportunity to serve yourself at the “all-you-can-eat” salad and sides bar. Not very impressive considering what you pay. The curry chicken salad was very good, however the chicken was a bit chewy.

    The atmosphere for Madison is very nice. The interior of this place has a wow factor from that aspect. The mixed drinks, while fairly priced, did not taste good whatsoever. One cosmo and one mohito later and we changed to beer and wine. We will say that the desserts were very good.

    The cost for the two of us with drinks was $125.00. That’s pretty pricey for Madison considering the food was bland, cold, or overcooked. And did I mention that you have to serve yourself AND you start off your evening frustrated trying to find a place to park??

    Nice try, but we won’t return.

  5. Bao says:


    Every consider parking in Samba’s own parking lot right to the side of the building? I’ve been there 5 times at least and it has never been full.

    Overcooked? Well, be more assertive. The dudes bring around big chunks, and the meat is done to different degrees depending on where it is cut. If you want rare, ask for it or point. I prefer rare, so trust me, I know dry and overcooked. It’s never been a problem the numerous times I’ve been there.

    And overpriced? Are you kidding me? The “salad” bar is about $15 byt itself if you don’t want the meat that’s brought around and is one of the absolute best deals in town. It’s a crime to even call it a salad bar considering how many meat items are in it. And to add just about $20 more for unlimited DELICIOUS meat?


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