It is a rare event on Discover the Burgh for us to feature a national chain, but every so often we will make an exception if it is interesting and somewhat unique among what is available in the area.
When I was invited into Fogo de Chao in downtown to try out their menu of all-you-can-eat meat as part of a local media event, it was one such exception.
It is time for more churasscaria in Pittsburgh!
All You Can Eat Meat at Fogo de Chao
For those who do not know how churrascaria experiences work, the simplest explanation is it is barbecue meets buffet.
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What's not to love about that?
The longer explanation is that meats are slow cooked on a rotisserie like set up, and waiters (passadors) walk around the room, each with their own meat, offering slices over the course of your meal. You signal them with a card with green on one side (go) and red on the other (stop).
When you're on green, several waiters will rush over with their offerings (while making unnecessary quips about the meat being an unusual, endangered, or extinct species) and you can either take a piece of meat or wait for the next one to come by with an item you've been eyeing.
Repeat this over and over until you can't eat anymore, flip to red for a break, start over when you're ready, and you've got yourself the churasscaria experience right there.
The full meal runs about $40 for lunch or weekend brunch, and $50 for dinner (without drinks), and additional prime meats and seafood items are available for purchase for those who do not want the full meat onslaught. Suffice it to say, it is an expensive outing over most meals, but if you are in the mood for vast quantities of different kinds of meats (and are actually able to eat it), it is a worthy investment.
But sadly, I think that only the most devout meat eaters may end up making the meal a value as the price tag is definitely on the high end for most every restaurant in Pittsburgh.
Seasonal Items are Available, But Stick to the Classics
During my visit, I was able to sample some of the menu items that were added for spring 2019 such as pork picanha (more or less a tender filet) and sausage which were two welcomed additions alongside the more conventional beef, chicken, and lamb options.
I say this because I found myself gravitating to the beef staples like steak picanha, filet mignon, bacon wrapped steak, and sirloin over the other menu items as most were cooked to a perfect medium rare. The staple menu item Parmesean crusted pork loin, for example, was so salty I could barely finish it- so the new loin was a much better option for simplicity's sake.
The price also includes access to the salad bar buffet which includes everything from soup and salad, to charcuterie, house-made bacon (a must try- its truly delicious), pickled peppers, and more.
But if I am to be honest, to really get a value I ended up skipping most of the salad bar entirely apart from the bacon and pickled peppers as it is a bit of filler that minimizes your meat consumption.
Likewise, during my visit I was also able to sample the restaurant's new Blood Orange Manhattan which is made with Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Carpano Antica, blood orange, and Angostura, and I walked away rather disappointed as the blood orange was added in such large volume that the nuance of the bourbon and vermouth was lost along the way.
While I did not sample any other beverages, as this is a meat-centric restaurant I probably will opt for a glass of red wine in the future over a cocktail as a better compliment to the perfectly cooked meats.
Overall, while Fogo de Chao has some shortcomings, if you are the kind of person that is able to eat an absurd amount of meat in order to get your money's worth a trip to the restaurant may be for you for the variety alone.
The meats are cooked quite well and the options are plentiful- but I'd highly advise on sticking to just that when you visit!
Fogo de Chao is located at 525 Smithfield Street in downtown Pittsburgh. I was hosted as a guest of Fogo de Chao for this review, but as always all opinions are my own.