What you expect from a renowned steakhouse founded in Brazil, is what you’ll get at Fogo de Chão: fire-roasted meats carved tableside in a full churrasco experience that is all it is cracked up to be.
What you don’t expect at the Downtown restaurant is even more interesting: a Market Table & Feijoada (black bean stew) Bar loaded with delicious, healthy vegetarian and vegan options, along with charcuterie and cheese and much more.
It’s a colorful and seasonal feast: Lentil quinoa salad. Bright green stalks of asparagus. Big chunks of hearts of palm. Artichokes and tiny cherry-red, kiss-shaped Peppadew with seasonal soups like asparagus and sweet pea. There are dozens of dishes to choose from, including fresh fruit.
This steakhouse could have the best salad bar in town and it’s available for lunch without the meat starting at $15.00.
Fogo de Chão (fo-go dèe shoun) opens Monday in the retail and condo building called Lumière at Oliver and Smithfield, at the former Saks Fifth Avenue site. A preview was held on Thursday night at the expansive, all-you-can-eat and beautifully appointed restaurant.
Our small group tried many cuts of meat, holding the cut with a tweezer-like utensil as the Gaucho chef sliced it expertly from the skewer tableside. Every meat was perfectly done and delicious. You can choose from rib eye, lamb chops, chicken, pork and the house specialty, Picanha, the most prized Brazilian steak (my favorite).
The herbal dipping sauce that accompanied the meat was a nice touch.
But there are plenty of nice touches at this well-appointed steakhouse, from the very friendly service to the modern lighting and the design throughout, including the inviting bar.
Meal options abound:
- Full Fogo Experience – The traditional prix fixe menu including all premium and classic cuts, plus the seasonal Market Table & Feijoada Bar (MTF Bar) and family-style service of Brazilian side dishes.
- Brazilian Cuts for $39 – Featuring continual service of the most popular beef, chicken, lamb and pork cuts of Brazil, with the Market Table & Feijoada Bar and Brazilian Sides. (Note: In classic churrasqueira style, you’ll get a cardboard disc, green on one side that means you’re open to getting more meat and red on the other which means you’re finished. At least for the moment.)
- Select Cut starting at $29 – You choose one cut of fire-roasted meat to accompany the MTF Bar and Brazilian sides.
- Weekday Lunch starting at $15 – Includes the MTF Bar and side dishes. You can add a single selection of fire-roasted meat for under $25, or have the Full Churrasco Experience.
There’s also a weekend Brazilian brunch with all the above plus breakfast items, like an egg bake and braised beef rib hash.
There are brunch cocktails as well, including a Cachaca Bloody Mary. Fogo de Chão also features a long, award-winning wine list and extensive craft cocktail menu.
Seafood is also available and lighter fare is served at the bar (where you’ll find some tempting happy hour offerings).
Kids six and under dine for free, and ages seven to 12 dine at half price for the Full Churrasco Experience.
How big is Fogo de Chão? The international chain of restaurants, which was founded in southern Brazil in 1979 and is listed on Nasdaq, sold in February to a private equity firm for $560 million. At the time it had 38 restaurants. There are now 52 locations throughout Brazil, the United States, Mexico, and the Middle East, with more on the way.
The Fogo Pittsburgh culinary team is led by Head Gaucho Chef Carlos Girotto, who first learned the gaucho style of cooking on his family farm in the state where Fogo was founded, Rio Grande do Sul. All the gaucho chefs are Brazilian-trained.
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, with brunch served on the weekends.