I was thrilled and honored to have been among one of the first guests to dine at the newly opened Fogo de Chao at Santana Row in San Jose on the night before Fogo officially opened their doors on February 27, 2014. I love Churrascaria so I was very excited to learn we would have our very own. It’s one we will be coming back to not just because their meats are amazing – which they are – but their service is like no other – it’s pampering. A heartfelt obrigado (“thank you”) to the people and staff at Fogo de Chao for hosting a splendid preview dinner – it was more like a feast! The restaurant was a full house and the bar was bustling, with bartenders mixing and serving up traditional Brazilian drinks called caipirinha – which has juice of one huge lime, sugar and cachaça, a sugar cane liquor similar to sweet rum. Forget the champagne – which Fogo was also serving – I’ll have another caipirinha please.
As Selma Oliveira, Chief Operating Officer, graciously began to explain to us at our table, the first Fogo de Chão opened in 1979 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, later expanding to São Paulo from their continued success, with their first U.S. restaurant opening in Dallas, Texas in 1997.
Fogo’s culture stemmed from what they call the Gaucho way of roasting meats over an open flame. The gauchos are Southern Brazilian-trained chefs that prepare, cook and then carve your meat directly at your table to your liking – my liking is medium-rare – as Helio Vieira, Assistant General Manager and head gaucho explained as he carved our bacon-wrapped Filet Mignon. Our wonderful server Tomás – who was happy the whole time yet serious to please – explained to us that their meats are rubbed with rock salt which conserves the original flavor of the meat. A few of their other meats such as their Costela de Porco – slow-roasted tender pork ribs – are marinated in beer. Last I checked they offer 16 varieties of cuts of roasted meat. The salad bar is a mixture of vegetables, cheeses and other healthy delectable sides such as hearts of palm and beet salad. The majority of the foods offered are gluten-free including their pao de queijo (cheese bread made with cassava and Parmesan cheese.) Here’s a tip: Try this warm cheese bread with a linguiça stuffed inside it. I did and it’s yum! Other sides served at my table included crispy polenta and caramelized bananas. I especially enjoyed the shaved cheese from the salad bar with some of my meat cuts.
Everything is fresh and they strive for variety and being as authentic as possible from the food and drink to the desert to how the customer is served. They really go out their way to serve the customer and we really felt comfortable and content. Desert tip: Go for their authentic signature papaya blend – it was refreshing and my favorite especially after a night of savoring Churrasco!
Fogo’s service is truly outstanding and one to emulate. I really felt the Southern Brazilian hospitality, culture and tradition. During my visit I felt like part of the family and we were well looked after. The whole time was relaxing and fun and was a dining experience like no other.
T: (408) 244.7001