First look: Fogo de Chao
South Beach could use a little more meat on its bones.
By Elizabeth Stewart
The goods: You may think SoBe has enough exposed flesh, but there's always room for a little more meat. South Florida carnivores can look no further. The original Brazilian churrascaria Fogo de Chão, which means "fire on the ground" in Portuguese, has opened its first Florida locale on South Beach. The restaurant stays true to its roots, cooking authentic selections on a customized churrasqueria grill displayed as you enter the front doors. Once inside, the décor almost reminds you of a relaxed version of an old manor -- dark mahogany wood fixtures, red walls displaying traditional Brazilian murals, as well as an indoor bar and lounge. The theme definitely coincides perfectly with the "burly" cuisine offered. The service is as attentive as the food preparation; in fact, if you don't keep an eye on your chip located on the table (green meaning "keep it coming," red meaning "I need a break") the gauchos are tableside with their roasting skewers and a different piece of meat before you can finish swallowing.
The grub: What else? Meat, meat and more meat. Fifteen different cuts of beef, pork, lamb and chicken to be exact. Make sure to have your card flipped to "green" for the Picanha (mouth-watering sirloin infused with garlic). And if this isn't enough, the restaurant also has a giant salad bar that puts your childhood "Sizzler" to shame with more than 30 different types of goodies including fresh cheeses and vegetables. There are also limitless sides for the table like garlic mashed potatoes, caramelized bananas, crispy polenta and Brazilian cheese bread. The booze is also plentiful, with over 2,000 bottles of wine to choose from and authentic Brazilian cocktails like the caipirinha. Lunch is priced at $26.50 and dinner is $46.50, and this includes as much meat and trips to the salad bar as you can handle.
To end the night sweetly, try one of Fogo de Chão's signature desserts. Favorites include the Papaya Cream, which combines fresh Brazilian papayas with vanilla ice cream and black currant liqueur and the Warm Molten Chocolate Cake served a la mode. One is typically large enough to split four ways.
The verdict: You may not want to be treated like a piece of meat, but this is the place to visit to sample the finest quality there is. \
Fogo de Chao, 836 1st Street, Miami Beach, 305-672-0011
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