Here’s Everything You Should Eat (and Skip) on Fogo De Chão’s Fall Menu

Here’s Everything You Should Eat (and Skip) on Fogo De Chão’s Fall Menu

I tried all the new offerings and figured out how to save room for the best stuff, in an effort to beat the house.

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Fogo De Chao
Photo: Su-Jit Lin

When we go to Brazilian steakhouses, especially the big fancy ones like Fogo de Chão, we go for their many meats. Their many, many, many meats, all of which present the average diner with an endurance challenge requiring the right strategy and approach.

For me, the strategy involves showing up early on an empty stomach, leaving my green button turned up so as not to lose any momentum, and staying immensely focused. Most importantly, I keep a hangry, predatory hawk-eye open for the quality cuts: the signature Picanha, the costela beef rib, the lamb chops, double-cut pork chops, linguica, the filet.

By dining smart, you can easily get more than your (in Dunwoody, Atlanta) $61.95’s worth. Because going to Fogo de Chão is like going to a casino: it’s you against the house. 

Can you exercise restraint in the face of instant gratification, holding out for ribeye when the bottom sirloin parades by incessantly? Can you resist the temptation of warm, cheesy pao de queijo puffs and buttery mashed potatoes as they glide up to the table? And what about the thirst trap of salads, cheeses, cured meats, smoked salmon, and fancy veggies laid out in a sexy spread across the all-you-can-eat buffet section of the restaurant, the elegantly named Market Table & Feijoada Bar?

Well, the house is always looking for new ways to win, and Fogo de Chão just announced its latest tactic: a new fall menu of seasonal additions.

“Fogo de Chao is dedicated to offering guests new and exciting dishes to discover, enhancing our menu regularly with authentic flavors that change with the season as they do in the farms and open-air markets of Brazil,” a spokesperson said. “We’re embracing the cooler temperatures and new cravings that autumn brings.”

This means agonizingly enticing new options at the already over-the-top Market Table—which costs $33.95 (at my location) if you don’t want to spring for the full $60+ steak-focused churrasco dining experience. The new menu items also include a new cut of meat and some intriguing dessert offerings, all of which begs the question: Which items should you save stomach space for, and which ones can be ignored to leave more stomach real estate for your true favorites?

I went to my local Fogo de Chão to find out.

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Seasonal Hummus

Seasonal Hummus

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Photo: Su-Jit Lin

Some people go (pine) nuts over hummus. I’m not one of them. It’s always pretty good when I’m out at a Mediterranean restaurant, but baba ghanouj it ain’t. However, a seasonal slant will always pique my interest, so I put on my good sport hat to try the flavor of the fall: beet with orange zest, pumpkin, sesame seeds, and fresh herbs.

At the Market Table, it looked promising. Rosy pink and silky with an exuberant sprinkle of green herbs and pepitas punctuated with pale sesame seeds in a line on one side, olive oil shined golden in little eddies on its surface. But in execution, its first flavor note was just very salty. The creaminess was great, and I could taste the tahini, but where was the orange zest to evoke autumn beet salads? Where was the sweet beet, outside of the strangely faint aftertaste?

Verdict: Save the room for other offerings. Crudites with fancy hummus is nice at a dinner party, but why bother at Fogo de Chão, where you can have bacon-wrapped chicken?

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Pear & Arugula Salad

Pear & Arugula Salad

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Photo: Su-Jit Lin

Who goes to a meat feast and eats salad? This girl. I feel like everything can be a salad, and arugula is a great base to top with all kinds of meat. Peppery arugula, crumbled tangy cheese, a drizzle of balsamic glazedoesn’t that sound like the perfect complement to steak?

Sure, the quinoa was noticeable only in hindsight, and the goat cheese was not the blue cheese promised by the press release, but this salad was fantastic. The greens were substantial, and the Bosc pears were roasted perfectly. There was not a hint of graininess to the uniformly cut, juicy slices, and the lightly browned butternut squash gave each bite more substance. I also appreciated the invisible but discernible olive oil in this dish and came back for seconds.

Verdict: Eat this. It’s a good accompaniment to every gaucho cut.

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Roasted Apple & Butternut Squash Salad

Roasted Apple & Butternut Squash Salad

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Photo: Su-Jit Lin

As a non-lover of pumpkin spice (yes, another unpopular opinion to pair with my apathy toward hummus), I appreciate that Fogo de Chão leaned in hard on the other orange gourd of autumn. This sweet salad made butternut squash once again the leading lady, but this time, roasted Fuji apples are its dance partner. A honey drizzle and some lemon zest round out the ensemble.

However, this was admittedly redundant to the pear and arugula salad. I mean, it was good—this fruit was also wonderfully roasted to a sweet tenderness, the slightly firm texture of a well-baked apple pie filling. The squash was once again mild and offered carby satisfaction. The black pepper gave it a savory hint. But the honey and lemon zest were virtually undetectable, unable to hold its own among the strong flavors of any other dish at Fogo de Chão.

Verdict: This is just way too similar to its superior seasonal salad counterpart. If anything, grab these slices just to add apple to the pear.

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Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup

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Photo: Su-Jit Lin

Soup is a classic dieter’s hack: You fill up on it, letting its comforting volume take up space in your stomach. This is the opposite of one’s goal at Fogo de Chão, making the addition of lentil soup to the fall menu especially fraught.

One big slurp told me that this vegan option is going to be clutch for non-meat-eating guests who come for the Market Table option. It’s incredibly hearty—it makes Campbell’s Chunky Soups look like a strained puree. This is more of a stew for sure, and I appreciated how it leaned more acidic than salty, a vinegary bite lending some sass to an otherwise earthy profile. The onions were cooked perfectly translucent, the carrots and celery were tender and plentiful, and the spinach wasn’t just a buzzword. This is a soup that eats like a meal. And depending on your preferences, that might be a problem.

Verdict: If you’re not at Fogo de Chão for the gaucho-served churrasco experience, this soup is going to be your saving grace. If you are there to break out in meat sweats, skip the soup after a spoonful, or you’ll find yourself too full too soon.

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Porterhouse Steak

Porterhouse Steak

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Photo: Su-Jit Lin

Did you know that certain cuts of meat can be considered seasonal? Neither did I. This fall, it’s the Porterhouse, an on-the-bone monster cut that has filet mignon on one side and a New York strip on the other. I was jonesing really hard to try this returning offer and started asking about it as soon as we sat down, partially motivated by my all-day fast, partially driven by the fact that this was part of the assignment. Either way, I knew the game—Fogo de Chão can be precious with these pricey cuts, and tucked in a corner of the restaurant, I couldn’t afford to be missed.

I wasn’t sure how they were going to manage serving this on a skewer, so I didn’t know what to be looking for. So I was pleasantly surprised when—40 minutes into the meal, as they’d had to put one on the grill to accommodate my incessant nagging—I was presented with a large cutting board filled with thick, juicy, generous cuts of rare to medium-rare steak. Seasoned with rock salt and the kiss of hot flames, this promised to be pure red iron-rich meat.

Verdict: While the signature churrasco cut, the Picanha, will always be my favorite, this was worth hassling the gauchos and servers about. The quality of the steak was excellent, strip-side gristle notwithstanding. The meat was velvety, and the simple seasoning made its beefiness really sing.

With a dab of delicious chimichurri to brighten up the char, this limited-time cut is one to save room for. Make the request outright to ensure you get it.

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Acai Cheesecake

Acai Cheesecake

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Photo: Su-Jit Lin

Everything on the seasonal menu is fully included in the full churrasco experience, except dessert—because, let’s be honest, how many diners can even make it to the sweets course? And while there is a nice spread of fresh fruit at the Market Table, that might serve better as a palate cleanser than a true dessert.

If you’re blessed with that second stomach for dessert, well, there’s nothing like a thick slice of cheesecake to round out a steak dinner. For its autumnal menu, in addition to the usual offer of strawberry or caramel sauce, Fogo de Chão is allowing you to pretend cheesecake is healthy by topping it with a superfood: acai.

This cheesecake is a more savory, less sweet, and less tangy than true New York cheesecakes, which is ideal when you’re already stuffed with rich meat. While it’s not as rich or thick as, say, Junior’s, it’s still a solid brick of a dessert. It’s “frosted” with a layer of light whipped cream, with acai compote served on the side for drizzling. The acai sauce is thick, but slightly vegetal and earthy, and not as bright as I would have liked for such a neutral cheesecake. It only weighed things down further.

Verdict: I actually really liked this clean-canvas cheesecake after such a flavor-blasted meal, and preferred the plain bites over the sauced ones. I wouldn’t save room for it, but if it’s there to share, might as well take a bite—but hold the acai.

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Tres Leches Cake

Tres Leches Cake

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Photo: Su-Jit Lin

Tres leches cake is usually hit or miss. Too much soaking and it can be mushy and wet, like a pre-chewed bite—a textural nightmare that clashes with its light, pleasant flavor. But when it’s good, it’s good, and Fogo de Chão’s capable version has been a mainstay on the menu for quite some time. So, why was it listed as a seasonal offering? Because the recipe has been tweaked, and this season is the revamp’s grand debut.

I’m not sure what it was before, but it’s now listed as a vanilla sponge cake soaked in those namesake tres leches, topped with toasted meringue and mixed berries. It had distinct vestiges of pound cake, with a warm, buttery flavor and a density that was heavier than what I typically expect from a sponge. It wasn’t soggy at all, and the taste of dairy cream was luxurious and pervasive, especially once I started pulling from the sphere of vanilla-specked whipped cream on top.

There were also faint caramel tones, likely from the light toasting of the meringue topping and the drizzle of what could have been dulce de leche. To my boyfriend’s disappointment, the meringue was the soft version rather than a crackling cookie type (think Baked Alaska or lemon meringue pie topping), but that was quickly forgiven as he delighted in its cloud-like airiness. The berries offered a nice burst of freshness to the bite, and the streusel served as functional garnish.

Verdict: This freshened-up staple is worth ordering, and the airiness of the whipped cream and meringue will trick you into thinking it’s not as caloric as it is. If you want to end your meal remembering that this is, at heart, a South American restaurant and not a steakhouse (as the cheesecake implies), this is what’s up.

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