Fogo de Chao / Downtown San Diego
Last month I was invited to check out Fogo de Chao. I have never been here before! I’ve been to a couple of Brazilian Steakhouses before but hadn’t experienced Fogo de Chao yet and I was excited to check it out.
The San Diego location of Fogo de Chao is located in Downtown San Diego, off Fifth Avenue. Jake, T, and I parked at Horton Plaza and headed over to Fogo de Chao.
They have a spacious dining room. We got there pretty early on a Saturday evening to try and avoid and possible rushes and crowds in Downtown.
Once you’re seated you can pretty much get started. There are two food aspects to any Brazilian Steakhouse: the buffet and the meat. Let’s start with the buffet! This will have all of your salad and cold side options to eat with your meal. Fogo de Chao has a TON of options for you!
Big pile o’ bacon!
You can make your own salad to go with your meat fest.
They also have stews!
This giant wheel of cheese caught my eye.
Prosciutto and melon!
Veggies and cheese.
This roasted butternut squash salad is one of Fogo de Chao’s new fall items on the menu. It’s a mix of butternut squash roasted with cinnamon and honey and then tossed with cranberries and feta cheese. I took a little bit of this to sample but found I didn’t really quite care for the flavor combination. I think cinnamon and feta is a little too weird together for my tastebuds.
I made sure to put a few of these tasty looking mushrooms on my plate.
This is another one of their new Fall salads: a Pear & Endive salad with seasonal pears, julienned purple endive, crumbled bleu cheese and candied bacon with pear vinaigrette. Of the two new Falls salads, I preferred the Pear & Endive. I liked the flavors better and I loved that bit of tangy blue cheese mixed in with the sweet pears.
When we got back to our table, we had a basket of cheesy bread waiting for us! These are Pão de Queijo or Brazilian Cheese Bread. They are light little puffy balls of bread that are made with yucca flour and Parmesan cheese (making them naturally gluten-free). They are hollow in the middle so they are very light but also deliciously addicting.
My plate of sides to start off with! In addition to the Pear & Endive salad, I really liked the Watermelon + Feta. The cheeses were quite tasty as well and the vegetables were nice and crisp.
Shortly before rounds of meat came our way, we were brought several side dishes and sauces to compliment our meal. We got a helping of garlic mashed potatoes which we all loved, some caramelized bananas, polenta, and plenty of sauces. I don’t remember what the red sauce was but the one right below it is a chimichurri sauce that I really loved. Next to that, the white sauce was a creamy horseradish sauce and to the right of that was some mint jelly to go with the lamb dishes.
Here’s a closeup on those bananas and polenta. The polenta was by far my FAVORITE side dish! The polenta is cut into a long rectangle that make it look like it’s a steak fry. It’s then fried to get a nice crunchy outer coating. The edges were crispy and the inside of the polenta was still a bit creamy. YUM! I loved it!
And now for the meat! Every person gets their own card – there are two sides to the card. One is green and says “Yes, Please”. This means you are ready for meat! The gaucho chefs will come by your table to offer you a selection of meat which you can accept or pass on. If you’re looking for a particular meat, you can always ask for it! When you’re ready to pause, you flip the card over to the red side that says “No Thanks” which lets the chefs know to pass you by.
Our waitress suggested that we flip the card to the red side when we were eating so we could enjoy the food while it was still hot. This was a great tip! At other Brazilian Steakhouses I always felt overwhelmed by getting so much meat at once. The meat would get cold and I wouldn’t enjoy it as much. By pausing right after I got enough meat to try, I could slowly enjoy my food without a barrage of meat tempting me away from what I was currently eating.
Sorry but I didn’t take notes on what meat was what. But here’s one of the first cuts of beef that came by!
The chefs would ask what temperature of meat you’d like – medium rare, medium, well done, etc. That was a nice touch to make sure everyone got the temperature that they liked. Medium rare all the way for me! Though this cut looks a touch on the rare side, eh?
On the left is chicken breast wrapped in bacon and on the right we have beef wrapped in bacon. I got one of each.
The chicken was a tad on the dry side even with the bacon. It was a bit too dry for my liking and I didn’t finish that piece of meat.
Looks delicious though, doesn’t it?
I think this is one of the sirloins. It was tender with great natural flavor.
Another skewer of meat.
Mostly I ate a lot of beef.
I believe this is the garlic beef!
The garlic beef was my favorite cut of meat from that evening. I loved the additional boost of flavor from the garlic which seeped into the nooks and crannies of the beef. The beef was incredibly tender and full of wonderful flavor. The boys also really liked the garlic beef and enjoyed extra helpings of a few of the beefs that came by.
I missed photo opportunities for a few other items such as ribs, sausage, and lamb. Mostly I preferred the beef. I did have a bite of lamb that T sampled but found it to be very gamey tasting. T was about to declare he didn’t like lamb but I told him that most of the lamb I’ve tried wasn’t quite so gamey and he should try it again in the future!
I decided to have a little beverage during a short pause in our meal and I got a Fogo Premium Caipirinha. Caipirinha is a mix of cachaça (a sugarcane hard liquor similar to rum), fresh limes, and sugar. It tasted a bit like a margarita from the heavy use of lime juice! Quite refreshing.
We each got our own dessert because… I guess we were feeling silly that night. T choose to try out the Papaya Cream which was a dessert recommended by our waitress. This dessert has fresh papaya that is blended with vanilla ice cream. It’s got this peachy color to it. If you like papaya then you’ll enjoy this dessert – it’s light, creamy, and quite refreshing.
[molten chocolate cake]
I decided to go the opposite way of “light” desserts and went with the molten chocolate cake. It was decadent and rich with a molten chocolate center that I was craving. Sometimes I just want something very chocolatey to eat and this fit the bill for me that evening! The ice cream helped to break it up a bit and I enjoyed the cake (though I let T finish it because I got too full).
[new york style cheesecake]
Jake opted for a New York Style Cheesecake to end his meal but we didn’t realize there were a bunch of different sauces to top off the cheesecake. I’m personally a purist – I like my cheesecake to be plain – and I wasn’t sure how Jake would want his (and he had left the table right when we ordered). The options were raspberry, caramel, strawberry, chocolate, or plain. I asked for caramel sauce on the side so he could decide if he wanted to use it. He used it as sort of a dipping sauce for when he wanted a bit of caramel with the creamy cheesecake.
All in all it was a very FILLING meal – not a surprise since it’s all you can eat! The nice thing about Fogo de Chao though is you have options for your meal – you can choose to only go to the buffet/side bar for a cheaper price if meat isn’t your thing. You can check out the full pricing options for San Diego’s location on their website as well.
Fogo de Chao
668 6th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92101
Disclaimer: I was invited to dine at Fogo de Chao on behalf of the restaurant. Our meal was complimentary and I did not receive further compensation for this post. All opinions stated here are my own.