Written by Anita
November 17, 2013
Photos 3-4, courtesy of Fogo de Chão
The Paleo Diet may be the latest food trend, but Fogo de Chão has been serving up platefuls of paleo fare since 1979. Started by two brothers in Rio Grande do Sul, the restaurant chain (now with over 20 locations across the U.S. as well as eight locations in Brazil) provides guests with an authentic Brazilian steakhouse experience. We recently dined at the DC-area Fogo de Chão location on Pennsylvania Avenue.
What better way to start your meal than with a Brazilian beverage? Fogo de Chão mixes caipirinhas, known as Brazil’s national cocktail, in 11 different varieties. We sipped the premium signature caipirinha—sweet aged cachaca blended with cane sugar and lime juice and poured over ice and slices of fresh cut lime. So light and refreshing!
Next stop? The gourmet salad bar, which features over 30 items, including both hot and cold dishes. We savored the fresh mozzarella and tomato salad, roasted beet and butternut squash salad, hearty shitake mushroom salad, delicate smoked salmon, and jumbo spears of fresh asparagus. The sumptuous spread also includes its fair share of meat (including prosciutto and Italian salami), but we were saving ourselves for the main event!*
Speaking of which, Fogo de Chão newbies always get a quick tutorial first. Gauchos serve the meats tableside, freshly carved from a roasting skewer. Each guest has a two-sided “stoplight” sign: Green means, “Yes, I’d like some” and red means “No thanks for now.” Delicate silver tongs are provided to pluck your preferred piece from the gauchos silvery blade.
Fogo de Chão offers 16 different cuts of beef, pork, lamb, and chicken, more than most can sample at a single sitting! Our favorite cut was the signature Picanha, juicy tender prime top sirloin seasoned with roasted garlic. Expertly carved from the beef tenderloin, the fillet mignon wrapped in bacon (isn’t everything better with bacon?) also was moist and succulent. Surprise favorite? The slow roasted costela de porco (pork ribs), which fell away from the bone. Meats pair beautifully with the many full-bodied South American wines available.
All meals come with several side dishes. Standouts included soft, sweet caramelized bananas, warm Pão de queijo (cheese bread), and fluffy garlic mashed potatoes.
For those who are somehow able to save room for dessert (we failed in that endeavor), Fogo de Chão offers a signature papaya cream dessert, a South American flan, and several decidedly more American desserts (like Turtle Cheesecake or Key Lime Pie.)
*A salad bar only option is also available at a reduced price, making it a great option for those who aren’t up for the full meat-eating experience.