Recipe: A Tale of Two Em ChamasAuthor: Chris Perrin
The Only Thing Better Than One Em Chamas
…is two Em Chamas.
(Quick edit: I just found out Em Chamas is doing a special expanded Valentine’s Day with shrimp, lamb, scallops, and free dessert. Just sayin’.)
Okay, I know I’m not exactly breaking any huge news, but there are two Em Chamas in what the weather people would call the “Kansas City viewing area.” For the past several years, the Northland has been absolutely filled with the smell of roasting meats because of this hopping churrascaria (Brazilian BBQ. For more on Brazilian BBQs, you can read how to make your own at home in my articles on SheKnows.com) Then, all of the sudden one popped up in St. Joe.
(Okay, I should be fair. The brains behind Em Chamas wouldn’t just open a restaurant over night. They’re too smart for that. But even if they did, I’d probably go. Anyway, I digress.)
Me and Em Chamas Go Way Back
I have been going to Em Chamas for several years, going back to even before my son was born. I had first been introduced to the idea of wildly dressed servers bringing meat on sticks to my table until I was too full to walk since before the turn of the millenium. My first experience with this type of meal was actually in Mandalay Bay at a restaurant called the um… well, it’s not important. Anyway, I fell in love and dreamed of the day when Kansas City would get its own churrascaria.
Speed forward four years (or thereabouts) and enter Em Chamas. Today, the place is a family favorite, especially for BWD, Jr. who at times has turned his toys into meat on a stick and walked around the house telling us to find our tongs. (His personal favorite dish, like mine, is the “ribs of the cow” (boneless beef ribs)) Of course, all the meat I can eat isn’t exactly cheap so we don’t get to go often, but we tend to enjoy it when we can.
Em Chamas Part Deux
So like I said, a second location opened up in St. Joseph, which is about an hour north (45 minutes tops if I am driving) from Kansas City. Quite frankly, I never thought I would get up there for dinner since that’s a long way to drive for meat when there is another location much, much closer.
Enter a blogger’s night where I was invited to drive up there and give the place a try. I will admit I wasn’t expecting much when I loaded BWD, Jr. into the car and started the hour-long trek during the midst of tornado watches and some impressive lightning. Why? Perhaps it was a bit of snobbery towards St. Joe, but most of it, I figure comes down to the reason why I hated going to the Lenexa Hereford House for the first year it was open: seasoning. It takes a while for the juices from the meat to really seep in and season a restaurant’s cook surfaces. (Don’t believe me, retire your current grill and buy a new one. Tell me the food doesn’t taste different.)
But anyway, on I drove to the new location and to a meal that rivals, if not beat, the Kansas City location. First, the space in St. Joe was really nice. It had a rough, modern, you-can-still-see-the-vents quality that I really liked and seemed to fit the elegantly casual Em Chamas. The cold bar (which has 30+ items in Kansas City) was a bit smaller in St. Joe, but the hot bar was actually bigger. And the chicken stroganoff was better.
But decor and salad bar aside (because really, who is going to eat salad at an all-you-can-eat-meat joint?), the reason I go to Em Chamas is for what comes served to me on a stick. Everything that night was perfect (except the fact they had no pork…) The ribs of the cow were great, the picanha (house special sirloin), the ham…all of it was great. Even better, though, the Em Chamas in St. Joe served filet. You had to asked for it special (and ask I did like 3 times.)
That filet was perfect. It was Ruth Chris perfect (and it even had butter on it to boot.) I even tried cutting it with a fork and did so effortlessly. It was perfectly seasoned with a great crust. It was wonderful. Although, if I did have an issue with the filet it was that I asked for med-rare and get medium to medium-well. Still, I didn’t mind.
Em Chamas: In Conclusion
So, as I drove the 45 minutes home, I got to thinking about the meal I had. It was wonderful.
It’s hard to justify driving to St. Joe for Em Chamas when there is one much closer by. My hats off to the people in St. Joe. I love the space and I had a great meal, but Kansas City Em Chamas, you’re still my home.
With that said, when in St. Joe, from now on, there’s only one place I want to eat. And I know we’ve been talking about heading up there. Something about a museum and a famous thief or something.
Get a hold of Em Chamas:
6101 NW 63rd Terrace
Kansas City Mo
5pm to 10pm
Downtown St. Joseph
123 S. 6th Street
St Joseph Mo
Check out the Sunday Brunch, too!
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