Fogo de Chao
133 N La Cienega Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211
Dining date: 10/10/11
Fogo de Chao is a Brazilian chain of churrascarias – restaurants that roast meats on open fires, a tradition that reflects the native gaucho way of life. Here in America, they’re often all-you-can-eat and offer a wide variety of meats. Fogo de Chao is one of the higher-end chains with an all-you-can eat set price of $57 dollars per person for dinner ($35 for lunch).
Whereas some restaurants serve smaller portions for DineLA or create separate menus (with higher-margin dishes), Fogo de Chao does something rather unique – the restaurant drops the price of their regular meal to match DineLA. As far as I know, it’s exactly the same experience, and the lunch options are the same as dinner. I had the Columbus Day holiday off, so it was a perfect time to come. At the $28 DineLA lunch price, it ended up being about half the cost of a regular dinner. Score!
At the beginning of the meal (and throughout), guests are invited to help themselves at an extensive salad bar. There’s dozens of items available, from a bunch of salads and vegetable options to smoked salmon and even a wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Personally, I try to keep these items to a minimum on my plate, instead saving stomach room for more meat.
Gaucho chefs roam the dining room carrying large skewers (swords?) with various cuts of beef, lamb, chicken and pork (around 15 different varieties). Each diner has a card with a green side and a red side – show the green side and the chefs will come to the table offering their selection; show the red side to signal a break. Meats are carved tableside straight to the plate.
A few side dishes automatically come to the table as the meat service begins.
Seasoned mashed potatoes
Unfortunately, I think they forgot to give us one more side – warm cheese bread. The sides were solid though nothing special. I tend to like a starchy side such as mashed potatoes with my meat, so these came in handy.
PICANHA Our signature cut, this prime part of the sirloin is served seasoned with sea salt or flavored with garlic.
A nice medium-rare piece, the key here was to get an end cut. The crusty exterior had a nice garlicky and salty flavor which really complemented the meat.
FILET MIGNON This succulent piece of meat is cut from the tenderloin and seasoned to perfection.
This was cooked medium-well. Of course, the tenderloin is one of the worst cuts to overcook and I found this expectantly dry and mealy.
Wrapped in bacon.
I didn’t try this particular one; a previous experience was unmemorable. However, I heard it was better than the previous filet cut this time around.
ALCATRA Cut from the top sirloin this piece of meat is tender and full of flavor.
Another sirloin cut – quite good, though I enjoyed the picanha a little bit more.
FRALDINHA Cut from the bottom sirloin and seasoned to perfection.
This was one of my favorites of the meal..it looked kinda like brisket. Really tender, juicy and flavorful – I think I had 3-4 servings of this one.
The garlic flavor was subtle, but like all of the other sirloin cuts, this was tender and had a lot of beefy flavor.
BEEF ANCHO The prime part of the rib eye, beef ancho celebrates the rich flavor and the delectable texture of this elite cut.
Hard to go wrong with a ribeye when it’s cooked well, and this was a fine example. The other two in the party preferred this ribeye over CUT‘s domestic Prime ribeye (which costs twice as much as this whole meal). Bold words. I couldn’t quite agree, but this was a good piece and presented a lot more value.
CORDEIRO Fresh, leg of lamb sliced right off the bone.
Not bad. My piece was cooked more than I preferred, but the flavors were there. Not overly gamey.
In chop form.
PORCO Tender pork loin encrusted with parmesan cheese.
Maybe my least-liked meat of the meal, this was just way overcooked.
This pork was much better with a crusty exterior bark and tender, rich meat. A really nice smokiness was imbued into the pork as well.
FRANGO Succulent chicken legs and tender chicken breast medallions wrapped in bacon.
A surprise of the meal. These were really good; a smoky flavor really came through with each bite of meat.
Chicken breast wrapped in bacon.
Like the filet wrapped in bacon, I passed on this one too.
LINGUICA Robust pork sausages seasoned and slow-roasted to mouth-watering perfection.
COSTELA Tender, juicy beef ribs cooked slowly to preserve their rich natural flavors.
I don’t think these regularly come around – apparently you have to request it. A fantastic beef rib – rich, succulent piece of meat with a good beefy flavor and a crispy exterior. Very tender..
Desserts are regularly a la carte, but they were included for DineLA. Something sweet was actually a nice way to end this heavy and rich meal.
New York Cheesecake
Key Lime Pie
Tres Leches Cake
I went for the tres leches. Not bad. Pretty sweet, but not overly so, with a really moist cake (no doubt aided by the milks).
Service was actually pretty attentive and repeatedly asked if everything was good. If we wanted a certain cut of meat, the servers were quick to send over the right gaucho chef with the meat.
Was Fogo de Chao the best DineLA deal? I didn’t try enough of the restaurants to say anything like that, but this lunch had to be up there. I think this was a steal for $28. There were some inconsistencies in the temperatures of some meats (a number were pretty overcooked) but I easily overlooked this at that price point. The quality of other cuts more than made up for it. Many times, a second serving of a previously-overcooked meat was much better. At the regular dinner price of $57, I’d probably have different standards. Still, there was a very wide variety of delicious meats and that’s hard to complain about.