Restaurant Week is in full swing, and our list of places to visit is growing longer and longer by the day. As big fans of this time of year, we are looking forward to trying fresh and exciting places!
One of the newest restaurants to make it's home in San Diego's GasLamp Quarter is the Brazilian Steak house, Fogo de Chão. We’ve heard their commercials on the radio, on Pandora, and have seen ads all over town enticing us to stop by. Even our friends have asked when we will be paying Fogo a visit. The hype about this place seems to be everywhere. Not surprising, Twitter, our main source of food recommendations, has also been alive with Fogo De Chão buzz. The restaurant has even started its own hastag, #FogoSD. With so much interest surrounding this new spot, we knew that it needed to be moved to the top of our Restaurant Week to-do list!
Standing on the corner of 6th street, opposite Fogo De Chão, we see groups of excited people flooding into the restaurant while even more smiling faces spill out. The place looks absolutely alive! As we walk across the street, we are able to see past the crowd and inside.
“Woah! The place is packed!,” I hear Jigger say as we approach the front of the restaurant.
We squeeze past the crowd, and into the restaurant. Yep, It's packed! I think to myself as I see Benjamin snake his way through the mass of people, moving toward the hostess podium. We hang back by the door where it's slightly less crowded.
While we wait for Benjamin, I take in the restaurant. To the left of the hostess podium is their bar. Running parallel to the street-facing windows, the bar has a fun yet sophisticated vibe. It seems like the type of place where downtown professionals could grab a drink after work. Surprisingly, it doesn’t interfere with the rest of restaurant, but stands on its own as a hip GasLamp bar.
To the right of the hostess podium is the main restaurant. Looking in, I can see that there are three main rooms, but I'm sure there more. It's a huge place!
Benjamin returns holding a restaurant pager, letting us know that it will be a few minutes until our table is ready. We understand that it's Restaurant Week, and we're in no rush.
The wait gives us time to get to know the guys from SanDiegoFood.Net who will be our dinner companions for this evening; Great guys! Thirty minutes later, and the hostess is leading us to our table. The restaurant has a great look! From the light and dark wood-paneled ceiling, to the wine displays, to the stunning salad bar, the design of Fogo De Chão might be described as relaxed sophistication. It would be a great place to host an event!
We take our seats just as a servicer appears beside us. He asks for our drink orders, of course recommending a caipirinha, the national drink of Brazil. I'm always skeptical whenever ordering a caipirinha outside of Brazil. Many times a place will call their drink a caipirinha, however, it is nothing even close the actual drink. A true caipirinha is made with Cachaça, lime and raw sugar. Sometimes they might add ginger. Curious to see how authentic Fogo's version will be, we order one caipirianha and one caipiroska which is made with vodka instead of Cachaça.
The service is on point tonight! Although it's packed and very busy, our drinks come out in just a few minutes. I try the Caipirinha. It's perfect!, Que Saudade! To have a real Caipirinha! The night is really off to a great start! And so, with drinks in hand, we are ready to begin our feast!
If you haven’t eaten at a churrascaria before, I’ll explain how it works. In front of each person on the table is a small cardboard disk. It's red on one side, and green on the other.
When you are ready for more meat, you simply flip the disk to green. No more meat, flip the disk back to red. Easy and Simple. Needless to say that our disks remained on green for much of the night.
In addition to a never ending avalanche of meat, there is also a selection of tasty sides that come with every meal. There is Pão de Queijo (Bascially Cheesy Bread), Angu (Brazilian Polenta), Mashed Potatoes, and Caramelized Bananas.
Did I mention that there is also an incredible salad bar with a surprisingly large selection of items! It has a variety of salads, of fruits and vegetables, all types of cheeses and sliced meats. There are chafing dishes full of beans, rice, and a very savory looking fish entree; even a full wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano!
We keep eating; disks all flipped to green! The always present wait staff is quick to bring us any kind of meat. Jigger mentions to a server that he would like to try the Bacon Wrapped Filet Mignon, and within less than a minute, there it is at our table.
We try the Picanha, the Beef Ancho, Cordeiro, Frango and Lombo. Looking around the table, all that I can see are plates heaping with juicy meat goodness.
One by one, the disks are flipped from green to red as we all reach that point of being too stuffed. I can tell by the look of satisfaction on their faces that they enjoyed the meal as much as I did. It was delicious! The ambiance, the wait staff, the drinks, the food- oh, the food! - everything has been so satisfying. Everything about Fogo De Chão is right. It has lived up to all the hype, and has delivered as a top notch churrascaria not only in the United States but in Brazil as well. Muito Obrigado Fogo De Chão!