Joe Tex might sing, “I gaucho! Uh huh, uh huh, give it here!” if he popped in Fogo de Chao, the Brazilian-style barbecue (churrascaria) on Belt Line, one of the bona-fide “restaurant rows” in Dallas.
Fogo (which means “fire” in Portuguese) should have a sign I saw on a restaurant recently in Kansas: “A Vegetarian’s Nightmare,” as Fogo is definitely a meat-lover’s delight.
Fogo was started by four brothers in Brazil, in the late 70s, and after achieving considerable success with several locations there, opened in Dallas in 1997.
With a set price menu for both lunch and dinner ($24.50/$38.50) you’ll get to eat meat until the cows come home: filet, sirloin, lamb, chicken, ribs, pork, and YES! Linguica, that wonderful Portuguese sausage. True Brazilian barbecue is simply a hot open fire, with skewered meat slow roasted to your preferred degree of doneness, generally without any seasonings or marinade (except a dash of salt). If we were in South America, the quality of the beef would speak for itself. In Dallas the presentation is similar and the quality is wonderful, but for those looking for imported South American beef will have to look elsewhere – the economies of our Latin neighbors aren’t permitting much export these days.
The drill here is simple, even for the first timer; gaucho-attired waiters prowl the room with long skewers of the different meats in one hand, and carving knives in the other. Diners indicate the state of their appetite by flipping over the coasters in front of them: Green means “I want meat,” and Red means “I’m resting.”
If you are in “Green mode,” the waiter will slice off a portion onto your plate. Sides include fries made from the yucca root, fried banana, black beans and rice, creamy mashed potatoes, and small, irresistible rolls.
That is, if you even have room for any of the mains or sides after grazing at the salad bar prior to dinner (included with dinner, but available separately at $19.50). In addition to the usual offerings, you’ll have the opportunity to stuff yourself on carpaccio, prosciutto, salamis, smoked salmon, fresh mozzarella, shitake mushrooms, and grilled peppers in a variety of colors.
Next time you are in “meat mode,” and you find yourself in Dallas, Houston, Atlanta …. And now Chicago….Forgo any other choice… ToGo Fogo.
Fogo de Chao