Samba Into Summer Every Friday Night (Year Round!) on Chicago's North Shore

Quick! Name a spot where you can get authentic Churrascaria and Carnival dancers in the Windy City? At the Brazilian Samba Fire Steakhouse in Vernon Hills, natch.

Photo by: Mo Marchini Every Friday night the Chicago Samba band led by Mo Marchini plays a vibrant set piece of Brazilian sounds, including the Afro-Brazilian Olodum with a Reggae tinge, the partying Pagode style, and Batucada, where the percussion takes you over.

We're always on the lookout for a winning experience. The kind that makes you send a postcard to yourself. Here’s two luscious reasons to make this a date. First: It's Rio de Janeiro on the North Shore. Way up north. Near Lake Forest and about two hours by train from the Loop. But oh, my. The Samba Fire Steakhouse features authentic Churrascaria. If you’ve never had it, let’s introduce you to this fantastic, traditional rodizio service of bottomless platters of skewered meats roasted on an open flame, piles of vegetables in season and a pretty finish with a sweet flan dessert. For $26 bucks per person ($32 on weekends), it’s all the meat, sides and salad bar you can keep piling on your plate. And you will return for thirds. Pra caramba!

The second reason (which for some could be first): Every Friday, come rain or shine, this restaurant morphs into a club or sorts, and puts the fire under your feet with free Samba lessons. Performances by the electrifying Chicago Samba band, who've played Chicago for more than 18 years, whirling Bossa Nova and Brazilian house music. Trivia nugget: Samba has been around since the 19th century and there’s many variations, from partnered routines to going solo. We suggest the solo option. It’s exuberant, fast, and the costumed Carnival dancers are great visual aides. If that doesn't work, ask the instructor to help put some Ipanema in your step. 

Chicago has a sizable Brazilian population and you can find sizzling Churrascaria eateries scattered around town. (And if you're really in the know, chances are we don't need to explain the famous, uhmmm, house parties.) Need to get your Brazilian feet wet? Of course you do.  

Samba Fire Steakhouse, located at 700 N. Milwaukee Ave., Vernon Hills. Telephone: (847) 367-5607. Friday's Samba and music start at 6:30 p.m.

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