Another longtime restaurant is making the leap into Center City.
Picanha Brazilian Grill, the popular, critically acclaimed Brazilian steakhouse at Castor Avenue and Hellerman Street in Northeast Philadelphia, has signed a lease for a second location, at 1111 Locust St. in Washington Square West, the former site of Garces Trading Co.
Amabilis Silva, who with her family runs Picanha, said the churrascaria’s opening is about six weeks away.
Though Silva said a liquor license is in the works, Picanha initially will operate as a BYOB, as is the original spot. Nostalgists remember that Oxford Circle location as the former Gingham House, a diner that operated for decades before its closing in the early 2000s. Picanha opened in 2005 under different owners, and the Silvas took over in 2006.
Silva said the restaurant will offer fast options for lunch, while dinner will bring the familiar combination of all-you-can-eat salad bar backed by skewer-proffering waitstaff that roams the dining room. Prices have not been set but are likely to be lower than those at Center City’s chain churrascarias, Chima and Fogo de Chao.
As Inquirer critic Craig LaBan noted in a 2006 review:
“The primal smell of rodizio meats — sizzling as they turn on swordlike skewers atop a barbecue pit at the back of the room — is as close to the South American pampas as Philadelphians can get. Even the rock salt that crusts the meat and the handmade natural charcoal, called carvao, are imported from Brazil.”
Picanha is following the operators of the two El Balconcito restaurants, which opened Vista Peru in Old City in early 2018, and the Olney Korean destination Seorabol, which opened a branch in Center City last fall. (Also, just FYI, the West Oak Lane-rooted Lee’s Hoagie House is making a Center City comeback, opening a location at 246 S. 11th St. on Feb. 1.)