Linger over lunch at Tropical’s buffet

The buffet includes 25 dishes, with a variety of fresh salads, vegetables, rice dishes, casseroles, chicken, beef, and seafood to choose from. —Marnely Murray

I became a citizen of the United States almost 12 months ago. I’m fully bilingual in both English and Spanish, have travelled through some incredible states of this free land, and am basically living the American dream, writing about food. One thing hasn’t changed though — my eating habits. In most of Latin America and the Caribbean, lunch and dinner are quite different than what they are here in the U.S. While Americans tend to wave away lunch quickly with a salad or sandwich, Spanish and Portuguese-speaking lands know that lunch is the main meal of the day, while dinner takes a back seat. Those countries start cooking lunch at around 10:30 am to sit down for a noon meal, and it is a production: rice, beans, salads, meat or seafood, casseroles, as well as dessert and coffee. It makes sense to me; eat a hearty, well-rounded meal midday that will help you get through the day instead of eating that huge meal a couple of hours before bedtime, when you’ll ultimately feel uncomfortable and way too full.

So, let’s have lunch, shall we? Head to the Tropical restaurant at Five Corners in Vineyard Haven, where Joelson and Chirliani Cardoso, the original owners of the restaurant, are back at the helm, serving up delicious Brazilian-American buffet-style meals at a fantastic price.

Brazilian food reminds me of food from the Dominican Republic, so I feel right at home there. The space has plenty of tables to choose from inside, and a couple of picnic tables outside if it’s a gorgeous summer day.

The buffet ($7.99/per pound) is composed of about 25 dishes, including a variety of fresh salads, vegetables, rice dishes, casseroles, chicken, beef, and seafood. Some specialties include authentic Brazilian dishes like feijoada, as well as rotisserie meats. These meats are slow cooked, turning slowly as the fat melts off and the flavors concentrate. Whether it’s bacon-wrapped chicken, beef ribs, pork sausages, or some of the best chicken wings, it’s a must have. After walking down the line, you’ll have a balanced meal of vegetables and rice, with some gorgeously cooked meats. Grab a seat and enjoy the meal, but don’t forget dessert.

Tropical is open 7 days a week from 10:30 am until 9 pm Monday through Saturday, and Sunday from 10:30 am to 5 pm. Tropical’s dining room and outdoor patio are available for private parties as well. For more information, call 508-560-5291 or 774-310-0098 or email