Fogo de Chão Is Fabulous Fine Dining at Its Best

Fogo de Chão's cooks spend ample time properly roasting meats the "Gaucho Way." Photo courtesy of Fogo de Chão

Southern California is home to an endless diversity of fine cuisine, and Fogo de Chão is right at the very top in terms of options to pick from. The south of Brazil is proudly represented by Fogo de Chão with three distinct locations in the Southland – in Beverly Hills (133 N. La Cienega Blvd.), in downtown Los Angeles (800 S. Figueroa St.), and in San Diego (668 Sixth Avenue).

The dining room at Fogo de Chão in Beverly Hills, CA. Photo courtesy of Fogo de Chão

Founded in 1979, Fogo de Chão – which exotically means “Fire of Ground” or “Ground Fire” in Portuguese – takes a satisfyingly holistic approach to roasted meats that are cooked barbecue-style, or as Brazilians suitably put it, in the manner of churrasco. Hence, what Fogo de Chão is appropriately famous for is their full-scale churrascaria, or steakhouse, experience featuring a procession of impeccably cooked meats that are individually carved off portable carving stations by the excellently attentive waitstaff.

The meats come by continuously to one’s table, in what is the quintessential culinary experience, and include an assortment of filet mignon (tenderloin), top and bottom sirloins, prime ribeye, beef ribs, pork ribs, prime lamb steak/lamb chops, bacon-wrapped steak, pork chops, pork sausage, and chicken.

Most of them have attractive-sounding Portuguese names that add an even greater appreciation to the mouth-watering meats. Suffice it to say, the moment when guests remove the first salubrious slab of their choosing (e.g., rare, medium, medium-well), using a pair of tongs, is when the gustatory odyssey goes into a thrilling overdrive. With Brazilian side dishes to boot, like garlic mashed potatoes, caramelized bananas (think fried plantains), Polenta (think corn bread as fries!), and delightful cheese rolls called pão de queijo, it’s like being invited to a royal dining room teeming with savory victuals.

Meats of all varieties are fire-roasted before being taken out to restaurant patrons. Photo courtesy of Fogo de Chão

For those seeking a lighter complement to the amazing churrasco bonanza, or simply an alternative, there is the Market Table which takes the prototypical “salad bar” to an entirely transcendent level. With a smorgasbord of palate-profound cheeses, such as the imported Manchego and Parmigiano-Reggiano, to cured meats like the Calabrese salami and the smoked salmon, or even delectable salads, including the apple, potato, and Brazilian kale & orange selections, there is much to smile about.

Of course, a second glance will then reveal a collection of lush fruits like pomegranate and papaya, or even wholesome veggies like hearts of palm and marinated mushrooms, adding up to a scenario where the eyes have every reason to dilate with joy, as there is indisputably no paucity of tasteful pleasure for the stomach.

Adjoining the Market Table is the Feijoada Bar, which is notable for its Foga Feijoada spectacular – a popular Brazilian black-bean stew with delicately soft and wondrous sausage bites that is best enjoyed with some white rice.

A bartender hand-crafts several caipirinhas — Brazil’s national cocktail. Photo courtesy of Fogo de Chão

Certainly, this Brazilian dream cuisine is not quite complete without a classy beverage or two that accentuates every spoonful and toothsome chew. For those who prefer cocktails, the Cucumber Mint Smash and the Coconut Cream Caipirinha come highly recommended – the former with its refreshingly light sizzle, and the latter which takes Brazil’s national drink and infuses it with a delightful tropical kick.

Wine is aplenty, as well. Visitors should absolutely try best-bet options by Vik Wines, including the La Piu Belle, Red Blend, 2011 and the VIK, Red Blend, 2012 — both from Cachapoal, Chile. They are highlighted by the fact that they nourish every taste bud on the tongue, with a harmonious presentation that is bountiful and balanced with a spectrum of aromatic splendor and fruit-fortified finesse.

If, as you’re arriving at the blissful horizon of your dinner-destination, you find that you’re inclined to revel in another round of epicurean excitement, dessert should not be shunned. Reward is behind decision’s door to admirably will through, as exhibited by the Brazilian-style flan and the crème brûlée, which will electrifyingly stir the fancy in you and accent your cheeks with a wide grin. The flan wiggles with jubilation upon each cresting cleave of the spoon, and the crème brûlée beckons a breakthrough via its crispy entrance into a custard paradise.

At the end of it all, upon disembarking this appetizing escapade, you’ll be first in line to again experience the Fogo de Chão phenomenon.

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