Dinner at Fogo de Chao

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!

Fogo de Chão on Urbanspoon


27 Responses to “Dinner at Fogo de Chao”

  1. #
    Erica @ In and Around Town posted November 7, 2012 at 9:58 am

    This meal looks impressive. I think my favorite point is number 2 – very wise words!

  2. #
    Emily @ A Cambridge Story posted November 7, 2012 at 9:58 am

    I’m stuffed just reading this!! When I lived in Brazil, we definitely ate a lot of churrrascaria… it was cheaper but just as filling. Fogo de chao looks like it is pretty authentic, especially with the pao de queijo thrown in!

  3. #
    Erin | The Law Student's Wife posted November 7, 2012 at 10:42 am

    I think these tips will also serve me well at Thanksgiving, especially the stretchy pants part! I won’t be able to skip the dessert though. I can’t. I’m just not wired that way!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted November 7, 2012 at 12:07 pm

      Oohhh Thanksgiving is a whole different story – no one should ever skip desserts then! It’s one of my favorite things about the holiday! :)

  4. #
    Meghan posted November 7, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Wow, that is a lot of food! I was sad that I was out of town during this dinner.

  5. #
    Ashley posted November 7, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    I love churrascarias, though it is so difficult not to overeat! I’m bummed the one near my home closed a year ago. And my boyfriend, who also loves churrascarias, would have a tip to add to your survival list — don’t expect to do anything after eating, especially if it involves ingesting more food or drink . His brother’s bachelor party made the mistake of going to a churrascaria for dinner. The group was supposed to go out for a night of bar hopping, but most of the people turned in after the first bar, too full of delicious grilled meats to party.

  6. #
    Susan (Oliepants) posted November 7, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    I haven’t been to Fogo de Chao but I have been to something similar here (Texas de Brazil), which we love. I really just love the salad bar and could make a fabulous meal just off of that.

  7. #
    Samantha Angela posted November 7, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    I need to stay away from places like this because my eyes are always bigger than my stomach. I’d rather spend $10-$15 less and go out for a steak so I don’t have to feel like I’m eating my money’s worth. I’d like a single steak. . . not a revolving door of steaks coming to my table any time I please.

  8. #
    Kristi @ My San Francisco Kitchen posted November 7, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    I have never tried this, but it looks incredibly delicious :)

  9. #
    Megan posted November 7, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    I love the giant bowl of bacon! Ha ha.

  10. #
    Juliana posted November 7, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    You are talking to one of my favorite place to eat…and yes…the meat is sooo good…
    My favorite one is picanha…delicious! Growing up in Brazil this place just brings me lots of great memories of my childhood.
    Now if you still can have dessert go for cream of papaya…YUM!
    Have a wonderful week Bianca :)

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted November 8, 2012 at 10:50 am

      I almost ordered that cream of papaya!

  11. #
    Joanne posted November 8, 2012 at 9:59 am

    Whoa! This sounds like an awesome event! I’m not sure I, as a vegetarian, would fare so well but I bet as a meat-eater this is just the best!

    • #
      Bianca Garcia posted November 8, 2012 at 10:51 am

      Haha definitely not for vegetarians, but I have to say that the salad bar and sides were pretty awesome too ;)

  12. #
    Rachel @ The Avid Appetite posted November 8, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    I really love rodizio!! We vacation in Aruba every summer and there is a wonderful place there that we go to for this…it is fantastic! Great photos!

  13. #
    Colleen @ Culinary Colleen posted November 8, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    I’m not usually a fan of these types of places, but maybe I’ve just been doing it wrong! Going to try the leggings tip next time!

  14. #
    Molly Galler posted November 8, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    Love the tips! I went to a Brazilian steak house once and was surprised by how amazing their salad bar was. Who knew? This looks like a total blast and yes – definitely calls for elastic waist pants!

  15. #
    andrew riker posted November 8, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    uhhhh yesss i’m going ASAP

  16. #
    Kailey posted November 9, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    haha I feel like remembering you don’t have to clear your plate is a good rule because I don’t think I’d make it past the first couple courses ;)
    That fried polenta looks crazy good!

  17. #
    Simply Life posted November 9, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    I’ve been to a couple of these restaurants and it was always such a memorable experience!

  18. #
    CCU posted November 9, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    Something I have never seen before but very cool and delish :D

    Choc Chip Uru

  19. #
    The Squishy Monster posted November 10, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    The carnivore in me is screaming! I love it so much. I especially love their cheese breads =)

  20. #
    Honey What's Cooking posted November 11, 2012 at 3:23 am

    believe it or not, never eaten brazilian food, it’s so much more than just rice and beans. there are such amazing brazilian places in nyc, need to give one a try.

  21. #
    Lawyer Loves Lunch posted November 14, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Fogo de Chao is definitely one of my most favorite restaurants. The first time I went, I didn’t realize you could ask for meat of a specific done’ness and I ate many pieces of too rare steak. Needless to say, I’ve gotten smarter :) Oh, and totally agree with your stretch pants tip. Leggings (and a big comfy sweater) are definitely the way to go.

  22. #
    Jodi posted May 29, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    What what what?! Key lime not that good??? I went to the Atlanta location just the other day for the 1st time & the key lime pie (my favorite) was the best I’ve ever had.


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