Have you ever eaten at a churrascaria?
A churrascaria is a Brazilian steakhouse, and it’s a dining experience like no other. Last week, I was very happy to be invited to a media dinner and first seating event of Fogo de Chao.
Fogo de Chao (fo-go dèe shoun) is an authentic Brazilian restaurant, where gauchos come to your table bearing skewer upon skewer of meat. I’ve been to other places like that but Fogo de Chao sets itself apart – there were fifteen (15!) different kinds of meat (beef, pork, lamb, and chicken), a gourmet salad bar, plenty of side dishes, warm pao de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread), cocktails, and desserts. Just typing all of this is making me feel full already.
Now for the novice churrascaria eater, all of this could be very overwhelming, and may even lead to upset stomachs due to over-consumption. Lucky for you guys, I consider myself an expert at Brazilian steakhouses. Thanks to many years of carnivorism, an Asian propensity for buffets, meat-loving friends, family, and ex-boyfriends, and general food blogger research, I have culled my knowledge into five easy tips for maximum enjoyment at a churrascaria.
So without further ado, here are my tips on How to Enjoy a Churrascaria.
1) Expect lots of food.
Sure, there’s going to be plenty of meat. At Fogo de Chao, I was obsessed with the beef ancho (rib eye), my favorite cut of steak. I also really appreciated the fact that you can specify how you like your meat cooked, and the gaucho will cut that section off his skewer, or call over someone else with that cut to meet your preference.
But aside from meat, there will be plenty of side dishes and salad bar items, too:
left to right, from top: chicken leg, lamb t-bone, lombo (pork loin), salad bar, fried polenta, mashed potatoes, caramelized bananas, and cheese bread.
So know that you’re in for a big meal and prepare accordingly.
2) Wear something stretchy.
You need to remember three fashion-related things at Fogo de Chao: green for go, red for stop, leggings for stretch.
Each patron is given a small green- and red-sided chip. This signals the gauchos if they can come to your table to bring you food, or if you are taking a break or are done eating.
The leggings (jeggings work, too) that you’ll be wearing is to ensure that you are comfortable the whole night. However, if you are a single girl like me, you might want to consider this carefully…
Call it gender stereotyping, but no one can deny the fact that an “all-you-can-eat-meat” event attracts a lot of men. I don’t think I have never been to another media event where there were much more males than females. And there were plenty of attractive males that night! Of course it also happened to be the one time I was dressed down… It’s okay though, because I don’t think the guys there would’ve noticed me anyway even if I tried to pretty myself up. They were too engrossed with all the beef, and so was I. But I wore leggings and I was comfy so I hope you will be, too.
However, just because you are wearing something comfy doesn’t give you an excuse to get sloppy. And by sloppy, I mean: do not drink too much caipirinhas. Stick to wine.
3) Bring a non-judgemental date.
Your dining companion is crucial to your experience. So bring a date who won’t snicker at you for marveling over the giant asparagus spears…
… But also won’t judge you for asking for second servings of that grilled mozzarella ball. Perhaps it’s your significant other, perhaps it’s one of your best friends, or perhaps it’s the person who gave birth to you – who never judges but instead marvels at your appetite, nevermind that you were only an athlete in high school and yet you continue to eat like you are training for something.
4) Remember that you are not being forced to eat.
Just because there is a giant bowl of bacon…
… and a giant wheel of parmesan cheese…
Doesn’t mean you have to have giant servings of everything. Yes, a churrascaria is a dining experience like no other, but it’s not The Last Supper. You do not have to eat everything. You can come back some other time, and you can say no. This also goes with saying that you don’t need to finish everything on your plate. Don’t be greedy and get too much, but if you don’t like something, one or two bites to taste it will suffice. This way you can save room for the things you really like.
Like this piece of ribeye.
5) Skip the dessert.
I know. I’m sorry.
I made the mistake of ordering a key lime pie even though I knew that I was too full for it. It’s really hard to resist a free dessert, but if I were a paying customer, I do not recommend getting dessert at all. It is not worth it calorie-wise and unfortunately the key lime pie wasn’t even that good. If you really want something sweet (and trust me, I know that feeling), just hold off for a few minutes until you walk out – there is a bowl of chocolate mints near the bar and you can help yourself to a couple of pieces on your way out.
I hope you guys like my tips for dining at a churrascaria. I highly recommend Fogo de Chao – they have plenty of other locations in the US and Brazil, and the Boston one is the newest. The restaurant is where the The Palm used to be at the Westin Copley, right near the Boston Public Library and very close to the Copley T stop, so it’s really accessible.
Dinner at Fogo de Chao costs $46.50, and weekday lunch is $28.50. I think it’s well worth it for that meatfest!