Fogo de Chao (means "fire on the ground" in Portuguese) is a Brazilian steakhouse located Midtown Manhattan that opened few months ago, in December 2013. It is a chain in fact with multiple locations in Brazil, where it originated, and in the US (Boston, Philadelphia, Miami, Las Vegas...).
Typically, when you know you are going to a Brazilian steakhouse, you know you need to wear stretch pants, because it is all you can eat. Now, that is what I call paradise for meat lovers! And it is not all you can eat passable food most of the time: it is all you can stuff in high quality meat. Here is how it works:
The staff goes around the restaurant with large skewers (coming from "churrasco", concept of grilling skewers of meat over a wood fire, the churrascaria being the restaurant serving them) and will check a chip that is given to you, at your table. The chip has two sides: green and red.
The pace can be fast; for instance, this is what I ended up with after just couple of minutes:
The portions may not seem big, but you can ask for more and do not forget that they are walking around anyway, ready to serve you again.
Before I go into detail more about the feast I had, let me tell you few things about the place itself.
I guess I could describe it as an elegant, dramatic, stunning 16,000 square feet restaurant. At the entrance, you can see a huge representation of O Lacador (a gaucho in traditional outfit), symbol of Porto Allegre where this place originated in 1979.
Upstairs is the bar and downstairs, the restaurant.
Similar to other churrascaria places, there is a gourmet salad bar.
This salad bar was quite big and included mozzarella, beets, asparagus, shrimp,...As well as some salami, cheeses or smoked salmon.
But what was truly surprising was the applewood smoked bacon bowl:
and this whole parmiggiano reggiano cheese:
On our table was also a basket of cheese bread or pao de queijo:
The recipe apparently comes from Sao Paulo and interestingly it is gluten free. I liked it, but found it slightly dry.
Now, concerning the meat, they serve something like 16 different kinds, ranging from beef, pork, lamb or chicken. I tried:
The pork sausage or Linguiça.
These sausages are seasoned with garlic and paprika, and slow cooked.
I usually limit how much chicken I eat in these places, not because I do not like it, but rather because I prefer saving myself for prime meats!
The leg of lamb:
The Fraldinha or bottom sirloin:
This was my least favorite, the meat being a bit tough.
The Alcatra or top sirloin:
The beef ancho or prime part of the ribeye:
The filet mignon:
The flank steak:
The picanha or prime part of the sirloin:
The meats were really good and of high quality, tender and juicy. The outside had a nice char and, sometimes, you could taste a bit of salt that enhanced the flavor of the meat. My favorite was the filet mignon, the flank steak, the ribeye and the leg of lamb. My least favorite was the bottom sirloin and prime, but it might be because of the cuts they served me.
These sides are pretty standard for this type of restaurant. My favorite was the fried banana. You may think these are plantains, but they are bananas that are simply fried with a bit of condensed milk, giving them this nice sugary coating.
You would think that I would stop there, but no: I could not resist trying their desserts. The first one was the flan.
I did not like it as it was way too dense. However, their tres leches cake was spectacular!
And trust me, after such a feast, it was difficult to resist.
I am glad that Fogo de Chao came to NYC. Not that there are no churrascaria in the city, the most known being Churrascaria Plataforma, with one location close by, but because they definitely serve some great pieces of meat that puts them on the top of NYC steakhouses. One thing I should add is that if you are vegetarian, you can just get the salad bar, or they propose a fish of the day. Sorry, I did not and will not try them, preferring to indulge in what this place is known for, but if they are as good as the meat, you may not regret it!
Enjoy (I did)!
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And Remember: I Just Want To Eat!