An icon for Brazilian barbecue across the country, Fogo de Chao [foh-goh dee shoun] brings its timeless style to Sin City. Roughly translated to mean ‘fire of the ground,’ Fogo de Chao replicates the centuries-old tradition of slowly roasting meats over open-flame grills to lock in flavor. Modern gaucho chefs follow in their ancestors’ footsteps, from the first Fogo in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 1979 to the newest location in Las Vegas today. Indulge in the churrascaria experience for North and South America to come that much closer together.
For those unfamiliar with Brazilian barbecue, the process is a bit different than your average dining experience but pretty easy to get the hang of. Everyone has a coaster with a red side and a green side. Flip the green side up and gaucho chefs circulating through the restaurant come by with long skewers sporting different cuts of meat, from pork sausage to filet mignon. Brazilians are hardly known as passive people, so in true fashion the gauchos will generously offer cuts as that green side stays up.
Fogo’s 15 meat selections each boast their own distinct character and bold appeal, and every one of them is worth at least a taste. Nothing is aged, but rather praised for its freshness and seasoning. So while this place won’t substitute for a place like Brand Steakhouse, it will offer tastes you won’t often find in other restaurants, or other churrascarias for that matter. Signatures like the parmesan crusted pork and beef ancho ribeye are definite standouts. Tender chicken, lamb chops, and two kinds of filet mignon make surefire highlights as well. A spread of sauces, like the chimichurri or homemade hot sauce, complement each item beautifully.
Traditional sides, such as garlic mashed potatoes, fried polenta, and sweet plantains, keep coming too. And while the salad bar isn’t the restaurant’s strong point, 31 dishes ranging from spiced vegetables to cheese and cold prosciutto complete the inevitable mass of protein. Enjoy the experience with one of Fogo’s 4400+ bottles of wine or with a caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail. Made with muddled lime, sugar, and [a lot of] cachaca rum, this drink is not for the lighthearted.
While Fogo is a hybrid of many restaurant styles, its service remains as spectacular as any. Some choice meats may not come around as often, but ask any gaucho for a particular cut and they will return with it before you put your fork down. And even if you think you’re going to burst at the seams when you’re done, the signature papaya cream makes a fitting dessert with vibrant flavor and just the right airy consistency.
Fogo makes a great host for everything from dates to social outings and business meetings [private dining rooms that seat 20-200]. Just be sure to come hungry.
Location: 360 E. Flamingo Rd., Las Vegas, NV 89169. East of Strip.
Reservations: Taken, walk-in available
Price and Value: Lunch at $26.50 and dinner at $48.50. Cuts of meat aren’t quite steakhouse quality but go beyond anything at a standard buffet. Bold new flavors and a memorable dining experience certainly make this place worth the price.
To Drink: Caipirinha, standard or tropical
Must-Try Meats: Lamb Chops, Beef Ancho [Prime Ribeye], Lombo [parmesan-crusted pork], Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon
Call (702) 431-4500 for reservations.
Check out Fogo de Chao’s Web Page.