Fogo de Chao (pronounced Fo-go dee SHOUN) is not a stranger to regular Road Tips readers. I've eaten at a couple Fogo de Chao's in the past. You can read about the Chicago entry here. The group of guys in our company like the Brazilian steak house theme as there are up to 15 different varieties of meats to choose from at a place like Fogo de Chao. But I also like the ample salad bar, no doubt put in place so you will load up on greens and eat less meat.
Fogo de Chao, like other Brazilian steak houses, have a "prix fixe" policy in which you pay one price whether you eat two cuts or 20 cuts of meat. They bring skewers of beef, lamb, pork, chicken and sausage to your table "gaucho" style. It can get pretty frenzied with all the gaucho-clad waiters bringing meat at a dizzying pace. If you're not ready for more meat, you just simply turn your little circular card over to the red side from the green side.
The Fogo de Chao in Atlanta was not far from our hotel in Buckhead and we took a 10 minute walk over there one evening to have dinner (see map). There were 10 of us as Dominic Baker from Focal joined us for dinner that evening. Although we were given menus, though it was clear from the start that we really didn't need them. We knew the drill - go to the salad bar, don't over-indulge there, however, then sit down and turn your little round card over to the green side and watch the waiters come out of the woodwork with meat.
My boss likes Fogo de Chao for their wine selection. Their wine list and cellar is pretty extensive. Each Fogo de Chao has a different selection of wines to choose from, but they do have a number of wines from South America, primarily from Chile and Argentina. And there are some good wines from those regions. Since everyone was having beef, it was an easy choice for him to pick out a hearty Cabernet Sauvignon for the meal.
One thing that we all fight over when we go to a Brazilian "churrascaria" is the garlic-infused top sirloin. Fogo de Chao has it, as well, but I have to say it is not as good as the garlic sirloin that we had at the Rodozio Grill in Denver. Even though it was still flavorful, it didn't have that intense garlic taste like we found on our visits to Rodozio Grill.
As always, we left there walking slow back to hotel, completely stuffed and vowing to never have meat the rest of our visit in Atlanta. Little did I know that two nights later I had to go back.
Gary Lahmers, the buyer from American TV, made a date with my colleague, John, and me to go out to dinner while we were at the CEDIA Expo. We were initially scheduled to go to South City Kitchen, a contemporary Southern-style restaurant that Gary knew of. I was really looking forward to going there for dinner. However, an 11th hour change by Gary put us back at Fogo de Chao. Oh, my GOD!!! NOOO!!! I was highly disappointed. I decided then and there that I would do what Fogo de Chao wants you to do in the first place - belly up to the salad bar and go nuts.
There were six of us - we invited Dominic Baker to join us, and Gary had a couple colleagues that he brought along. John, also, was not planning on participating in the intense meat overload that we experienced just two nights before. "Yeah, I think your idea of grazing over the salad bar is a good idea," he said before we sat down.
The salad bar at Fogo de Chao is huge. It features different types of greens for a variety of salads, fresh veggies, cured meats and a ton of domestic and imported cheese to choose from. One could very easily pig out on the salad bar without having any of meat brought to your table and walk away stuffed. While I didn't say "no" to the waiter when the skewers of filet and garlic sirloin came around, I limited my meat input that evening. I hit the salad bar a couple times and had three or four cuts of meat. It was still too much. Along with three bottles of a great French Cabernet that Dominic picked out, we had a great time that evening.
Dominic, who has eaten at the Fogo de Chao's in Brazil, still thinks the ones in the U.S. are better. "That one we went to in Chicago was just outstanding. That may be the best Fogo de Chao I've ever eaten at," he told our group. And Dominic likes to eat steak. We traveled for a week together a few years ago and every night he had steak. He told me at the time, "You just don't get beef like this in Europe."
Fogo de Chao is a fun place. It has everything that you expect from a quality restaurant - good food, good wine, good service, good ambiance. But it's a different type of restaurant compared to other steak houses. With over 20 locations in both the U.S. and Brazil, it's quite possibly the most famous of all the Brazilian steak houses in existence. You'll never go hungry when you go to a Fogo de Chao.