Fogo de Chao: Eat Like a Gaucho, and Don’t Mind the Sword

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Brazilian Food Los Angeles

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Dishes of polenta fries and cheddar-sprinkled mashed potatoes were constantly refreshed to keep them enticing. The polenta fries were crisp outside and supple inside, perfectly cooked. The mashed potatoes were rich and smooth, textbook.

Whole roasted plantains were cooked with butter and dusted with cinnamon, forming a somewhat caramelized exterior and spoon-soft interior. They were a welcome distraction.

I’ve dedicated enough words to items that are grown in the soil and baked in an oven. It’s time to discuss Fogo de Chão’s continuous tableside service of 15 different meats (a set price of $52.50 per person). After setting my disc to green, the “gauchos” began flooding our table with sword-shaped skewers of meat. They either slid pieces of meat on to our plates or shaved meat from large chunks, which we grabbed with handy metal tongs.

Brazilian Food Los Angeles
Clockwise from top: Cordeira (lamb chop), Frango (chicken leg), Linguica (slow-roasted pork sausages) and Lombo (pork loin), which also comes crusted with Parmesan. The lamb chop was salty and had just enough fat to ignite flavor. The chicken leg was surprisingly stupendous, with crisp herb-brushed skin and juicy meat. The pork sausages had taut skin but could have used a little more kick. The slice of pork loin had caramelized skin and juicy meat.

Brazilian Food Los Angeles
These skewers held both varieties of Frango: bacon-wrapped chicken breast & chicken legs. The chicken breast was herb-brushed and moist, and the crispy bacon elevated it further.

Brazilian Food Los Angeles
Here’s a photo of a “gaucho” shaving Aleatra (top sirloin). The salty meat was completely luscious.

Certain skewers are cooked rare or medium. You can request a particular temperature.

Brazilian Food Los Angeles
This Picanha was seasoned with sea salt. Fogo de Chão also has picanha flavored with garlic. Either way, it’s considered the prized cut of Brazilian beef, and after tasting a slice, it was easy to see why, with it’s extra burst of salt and grease (the good kind).

Brazilian Food Los Angeles
Costela de Poreao (slow-roasted pork ribs) were probably the night’s only meat disappointment, a little too chewy and overcooked.

I didn’t care to get a photo of every meat, since that would be redundant, but the other options were Filet Mignon (cut from the tenderloin and wrapped in bacon), Fraldinha (bottom sirloin), Costela (beef ribs), Cordeiro (fresh young leg of lamb) and Beef Ancho (prime rib eye).

Brazilian Food Los Angeles
Incredibly, after our cascade of meat, we all had room for dessert. Two people ordered Strawberry Cream (Crème de Morango) ($9) – fresh strawberries blended with vanilla ice cream and black currant liqueur, basically an impressive milkshake. For some reason, every dessert was accented with a purple flower.

Brazilian Food Los Angeles
I ordered the tropical Papaya Cream (Crème de Papaya) ($9.50) – fresh papaya blended with vanilla ice cream, topped with a waiter’s pour of crème de cassis liqueur.

Cake Los Angeles
Chocolate Molten Cake (Petit Gateau) ($9.50) was plated with strawberries, a scoop of vanilla ice cream and black-and-white heart-shaped pours of chocolate sauce. It was a serviceable molten chocolate cake.

Fogo de Chão was clearly the best churrascaria I’ve ever eaten, with higher-grade cuts of meat, more attentive service and more elaborate atmosphere. My only complaint: We never received Fraldinha (bottom sirloin), Costela (beef ribs) or Cordeiro (fresh young leg of lamb).

Fogo de Chao: Eat Like a Gaucho, and Don’t Mind the Sword

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Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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