Fogo de Chao: More Than Just Meat
Oh, Fogo. Every year for his birthday, hubby requests to visit Fogo de Chão in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor to feast on copious amounts of churrasco served off giant skewers. I have to admit, I didn’t fully understand the concept or the tradition of Brazilian steakhouses on my first few visits, it just seemed like a machismo meal.
Well, I was wrong. Really wrong. And I’m still convincing others that their perceptions may be skewed as well. Fogo de Chão is continually changing and adding more options to cater to varying lifestyles and events, making Fogo a special event destination, but also perfect for a Sunday brunch or a casual and light (yes, a light) lunch.
Let’s start with the market table, while some may call this a “salad bar” (the most AMAZING salad bar), it is actually a nod to culture. Farming communities in remote Brazilian towns gather in the town square to share the bounties of their farms, including produce, cheese and cured meats, all laid out for a communal meal. Although the rest of the offerings are fabulous, I would be a perfectly happy camper just noshing on the market table. Some items change seasonally, but the majority of the 50+ gluten-free and vegetarian offerings stay the same.
But don’t fill up too much. This is just the start. Fogo de Chão also offers plated hors d’oeuvres. Currently, Baltimore offers a colossal shrimp cocktail and creamy heart of palm and spinach dip, with differing dishes offered locally.
When you are ready, turn your handy dandy meat card to green and get rocking and rolling. Instantaneously, gauchos will be table side with one of the 16 sizzling meat selections. I am going to give you some advice: don’t feel rushed. Initially you may feel like a kid on Christmas morning and the need to take one of everything as it goes by, but don’t worry, they will be back… and back… and back. So enjoy the few samplings you have on your plate while they are hot and turn your card back to green when you are ready. Fogo de Chão translates to “fire on ground”, describing the meat cooked on an open flame preparation. As it whizzes by you, you’ll hear and see the heat still radiating as it was just removed from the pit in the back.
Also served with the meats are a selection of sauces and sides. Garlic mashed potatoes, polenta, caramelized bananas and the famed pão de qeijo (cheese puff bread) just to name a few. Chimichurri, horseradish and a red chile sauce can accompany any of your protein selections. Some locations also have a fish entree for pescetarians.
Coming for lunch? For a reduced price, enjoy just the market table or add a single portion of meat. When sitting at the bar, you can also order shareable finger plates and make sure you check out the hand crafted cocktail menu and lengthy wine list.
But don’t fill up here! The desserts are also mammoth and downright sinful. Decadent, rich and creamy cheesecake and flan are waiting to finish off your dining experience.
For more information and to find a Fogo de Chão location, visit fogodechao.com.