Recently, Great Places attended the New York City opening of Fogo de Chão, the award-winning and internationally-renowned churrascaria (Southern Brazilian Steakhouse). The restaurant’s unique dining experience is based on the centuries-old gaucho tradition known as churrasco, the art of roasting meats over an open fire.
Fogo de Chão specializes in espeto corrido, or “continuous service,” where a team of Brazilian-trained gaucho chefs prepare, cook and carve tableside 16 different cuts of beef, lamb, chicken and pork. The menu includes picanha (top sirloin), filet mignon, beef ancho (rib eye), alcatra (top sirloin), fraldinha (bottom sirloin), costela (beef ribs), cordeiro (lamb), frango (chicken), dostela de porco (pork ribs), lombo (pork loin) and linguica (sausage). Guests decide both the pace and the portions of their dining experience by using a small, double-sided disc that signals to the gaucho chefs that they are ready for additional service. Placing the green side up signals to gauchos to continue presenting meats to the table and placing the red side up signals that one is satisfied – at least until they are ready to begin sampling the meats again!
While meats are at the forefront, the restaurant also features a gourmet salad and sides bar with more than 30 items, including gluten-free offerings. Selections include fresh vegetables, cured meats, warm Brazilian cheese bread, imported cheeses, and crispy polenta. The decadent dessert menu features their signature, house-made Papaya Cream with fresh papaya, vanilla ice cream and Crème de Cassis liqueur; South American Flan; Crème Brûlée and much more.
To complement the dining experience, Fogo de Chão offers an award-winning 200-label wine list, as well as an array of South American-inspired cocktails – many of which change seasonally. We sampled the Brazilian Caipirinha.
This is the first New York-based Fogo de Chão, and by far the largest. It is a cavernous space that occupies three floors and can easily seat 300 people. The 16,000 square-foot space has a main dining room and two bars – one on the main level and another on the mezzanine overlooking the restaurant. It also features designs by renowned architect Jeffrey Beers. With experience living and working in Brazil, Beers shares a particular affinity for Brazilian culture and design. Upon entering the restaurant, guests can immediately sense the authentic gaucho spirit of Fogo de Chão as they are greeted by a 17-foot-high, bas-relief sculpture of Antônio Caringi’s famous Brazilian sculpture, O Lacador (The Lassoer), also a historical monument in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
A striking multi-level Escher-esque stairway with glass railings leads guests between the restaurant’s three levels, and a wooden ribbed proscenium wraps across the ceiling with alabaster lights throughout. Once at the top level, an oversized braided leather chandelier commands center stage in the mezzanine bar along with a curved ‘overlook’ with a drink ledge where guests can enjoy a cocktail while gazing down on the street level bar and main dining room, 40 feet below. The restaurant also features private and semi-private dining areas to accommodate special events.
Fogo de Chão is located at 40 West 53rd Street. Reservations and private events can be made by calling 212.969.9980.