Prepare yourself for a lavish night of decadent and flavorful fare at Fogo de Chão, a Brazilian steakhouse executed in the traditional Churrasco fashion of Southern Brazil in Scottsdale. In an atmosphere of fine dining mixed with the comfort of an all-you-can-eat experience, chefs called “gauchos” cook a variety of meats on spits and immediately bring them out to guests to freshly slice onto their plates. You need only say yes when asked if you’d like a piece of the picanha (prime part of the top sirloin) or the cordeiro (lamb). The moment you walk into the establishment, those savory, umami aromas fill the senses.
There’s something intimate about seeing and interacting with the person who prepared your meal, which is what makes the experience at Fogo de Chão so unique. It’s evident how much pride gauchos take in the food they cook and serve to their guests. Each cut of meat, from the rib eye to the beer and brandy-marinated chicken to the delectable bacon-wrapped filet mignon seemed juicier and richer than the last. The parmesan-crusted pork loin was a personal favorite, especially when paired with Fogo de Chão’s Brazilian salsa.
The restaurant also has what are called “culinary guides,” who not only make sure you have everything you need, but are extremely knowledgeable about Brazilian cuisine, providing impeccable service. Bartender Steven Parchem was particularly wonderful to interact with for the night, answering all of our questions about the various foods and sauces coming our way.
Of course, we had to try a few of Fogo de Chão’s seasonal offerings at the self-serve salad and soup areas. The creamy butternut squash and sweet potato soup (pictured) had a delicately sweet flavor with a hint of salt—a taste of autumn in a bowl. The pear and endive salad (fresh pears, julienned purple endive, bleu cheese, and candied bacon with a pear vinaigrette) tasted light, crunchy and fresh, and the combination of sweet pears went wonderfully with the bleu cheese.
On that note, Parchem says when he crafts Fogo’s signature cocktails, he always uses the freshest fruit, throwing out all produce at the end of each night. “I never want to serve my guests old fruit,” he says. Another autumn offering, the Blackberry Azedo (pictured, Portuguese for “sour”) cocktail delivered a punch of blackberry tartness, complimented by the Hendrick’s Gin and Crème de Cassis, a black currant liqueur. To create this beverage, Parchem says he takes fresh blackberries and muddles them with mint, then creates a house-made lime sour (fresh lemon, lime and simple syrup, boiled). The entire drink is vigorously shaken for 15 seconds and twice strained to remove any blackberry seeds.
Although not a seasonal cocktail, the popular Fogo Caipirinha, known affectionately as a Brazilian margarita, throws a fizzy punch, with notes of crisp lime.
And of course we had to try the crème brulee and Brazilian flan. A creamy, decadent bite of custardy heaven, the crème brulee’s crispy, caramelized topping was the perfect way to round out the night.
It’s safe to say if you’re looking for a reason to treat yourself, Fogo de Chão will not disappoint. Both the service, food and atmosphere made the entire experience a night to remember.–Alyssa DeMember