By Santi Cardona
Fogo de Chão (836 1st St, Miami Beach) is a Brazilian restaurant that follows the traditional concept of servers bringing skewers of meat to your table until you are ready to explode (euphemistically speaking, of course). The idea is that you have a card with two sides, and you flip the card to a specific side depending on whether you want the servers to offer you more meat or not. This style of restaurant is very popular in Brazil and is known as gaucherras; they offer a buffet-esque experience where you pay one price and eat as much as you want.
Menu highlights: Start at the seasonal market table and take advantage of their dozens of options to create your own side dishes. The options are plentiful and delicious, and you could easily make a meal out of what they offer here alone. There are balls of mozzarella, wheels of cheese, full plates of stacked black pepper candied bacon, smoked salmon, and feijoada (black bean stew), amongst others.
The star of the show at Fogo de Chão will always be the generous offering of different meats. While there was no meat that I truly didn’t enjoy, I would recommend saving your prized stomach real estate for the picanha, linguica, and costela de porco.
The picanha is Fogo de Chão’s (and Brazil’s) signature meat. This unique cut of steak, usually called sirloin cap in America, is little known outside of Brazil as it is usually divided into other cuts in other countries. The meat is cooked with the fat still on to allow for more flavor development, and is rich and juicy. The linguica is a tender and savory pork sausage which is grilled to keep it crispy. The costela de porco is known as pork ribs outside of those countries speaking Portuguese. Fogo de Chão marinates these ribs in white wine and slow roasts them to perfection.
Standout dish: I was delightfully surprised by the grilled cordeiro (lamb t-bone chop). Steak will always have my heart in terms of meat options, but the lamb chops served were expertly seasoned, gamey, and had just the right amount of fat to keep them juicy. This was a cut of lamb I had never tasted before, so it was great for Fogo to offer this option.
Are we boozing? Definitely. Fogo de Chão’s different versions of caipirinhas (Brazil’s national cocktail made using cachaça) are delicious and refreshing. I’m not one to say no to anything passionfruit, so the passionfruit caipirinha is the way to go, in my opinion.
Check this place out if you like: The obvious comparison to Fogo is Texas de Brazil, though I would be more inclined to say that this place is worth checking out if you like abundant meat in general. Be prepared to marvel at the options, and be prepared to leave more full than you would expect. It’s hard to say no.
Santi’s take: While I’ve been to a few guacherra-style restaurants in my lifetime, this Fogo de Chão location in Miami Beach has been my favorite by far. The food is extremely fresh and offered ubiquitously at your table, and the restaurant also offers options for those not looking to indulge only in meat (i.e. fish or vegetarian dishes). I’m usually not a person that’s impressed by excess, but this is one occasion where I was won over.
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