FOGO DE CHÃO
CHURRASCARIA OFFERS UNLIMITED CLASSIC CUTS OF MEAT
Meat lovers with a fine palette are or will be fans of Fogo de Chão—a leading Brazilian steakhouse or churrascaria, which has specialized for more than 36 years in fire-roasting high-quality meats utilizing the centuries-old Southern Brazilian cooking technique of churrasco. Think of Fogo as a buffet featuring a bevy of fine cuts of meats and then some.
Guests can feast on a wide variety of simply seasoned meats that are carefully fire-roasted to expose their natural flavors. Additionally, Fogo offers a gourmet Market Table and Feijoada Bar, which includes seasonal salads, soup, fresh vegetables, feijoada (traditional black bean stew with rice, fresh orange and yuca flour), and much more. Southern Brazilian side dishes such as pão de queijo (warm cheese bread), crispy hot polenta, and caramelized bananas are served family style. To further complement the dining experience, the restaurant offers an award-winning wine list, decadent dessert menu, and creative and classic cocktails. Guests can also choose between lighter seafood selections, or enjoy the gourmet Market Table only option.
While I mentioned the “b-word”, there is no buffet line at Fogo de Chão, instead gauchos (waiters) come to your table with different cuts of meat for you to choose and taste. The practice is simple, you are given cards, green and red, as long as your showing green the gauchos will circle like sharks and bombard you with all kinds of meats. At times you will need to flash red to either take a break or to take time eat what’s on your plate as the gauchos won’t stop coming to you as long as you’re showing green.
The meats offered include steak, lamb, pork and chicken. Choose from Picanha (the prime part of the top sirloin seasoned with sea salt or garlic); Filet Mignon Tenderloin served delicate and tender; Alcatra top sirloin seasoned for tenderness and sliced thin; Fraldinha bottom sirloin—a flavor cut with strong marbling; Beef Ancho rib eye (the prime part of the rib eye) and Costela beef ribs served tender and juicy. And forget about the delicious young leg of lamb, as well as a variety of cuts, including tender chicken breasts wrapped in bacon—a personal favorite—and the Linguica, robust pork sausages seasoned and slow-roasted to mouthwatering perfection.
You’ll probably want to start your meal with a drink and there’s no better starter than the Caipirinha, the national cocktail of Brazil. A fine blend of cachaça (a distilled spirit made from sugarcane juice also known as aguardente), sugar and lime. Think mojito but better. Other solid cocktails include the Caramelized Pineapple Old Fashioned made with Bulleit Rye Whiskey shaken with muddled caramelized pineapple, orange and Luxardo cherry, and the Whisky Jam Sour with Monkey Shoulder Scotch Whiksy shaken over ice with lemon sour, orange bitters and raspberry jam served on the rocks.
Wonderful seafood options include the delicious Mango Chilean Sea Bass served with fresh, homemade mango relish and malagueta pepper sauce atop asparagus spears, and the Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail. The only problem is that these menu options come a la carte and considering the sea bass is nearly $30 at lunch and over $40 at dinner, it’s not worth it if you’re doing the all you can eat experience. Now if you’re not a meat eater then these are fine options. And don’t forget the side dishes such as the garlic mashed potatoes, caramelized bananas, black bean stew with sausage served over white rice, and the classically Brazilian soft cheesy bread rolls.
A new seasonal menu features Market Table additions, including Roasted Butternut Squash Salad; Pear & Endive Salad; and Butternut & Sweet Potato Soup. While the salad bar includes salad, vegetables, cheeses, and fruit, among other options, it’s always wise not to fill up on anything but the meat if you’re going for the carnivore experience, especially considering the full churrasco experience will cost you $36.95 at lunch and $61.95 at dinner. Desserts are extra but if you’re not stuffed then you might as well go for it and the Motlen Chocolate Cake, and the Caramelized Pineapple are favorites of mine.
All Fogo de Chão restaurants have at least one Certified Level One Sommelier by the Court of Master Sommeliers on staff. Additionally, the Fogo de Chão wine list has received the Wine Spectator “Award of Excellence,” which recognizes elite establishments that feature a well-chosen assortment of quality wine offerings, along with a thematic match to the menu in both price and style. A good glass of wine paired with your countless cuts of meats will only make your dining experience better. A new wine list features more than 55 South American labels – from Malbec vintages sourced from renowned Argentinian producers to rich Cabernet Sauvignons from the Chilean valleys – each hand-selected to perfectly complement the numerous Brazilian specialties only found at Fogo de Chão.
And since it’s no secret that I’m a fan of liquid dessert, I was absolutely blown away when I was introduced to premium cachaça, most notably Weber Haus Cachaca Extra Premium XII 12 year. It was sensationally splendid. This stunning beverage is one of the most enjoyable treats I’ve had recently. This was the perfect nightcap to a wonderful if not gut-busting decadent dinner.
Fogo de Chão restaurants locally are located in Beverly Hills at 133 N. La Cienega Blvd, and downtown Los Angeles at 800 S. Figueroa.
Story by Jose Martinez
Photography Courtesy: Fogo de Chão