I’m always up for excuses to get a little fancy and head out to a nice dinner. I haven’t been to Fogo de Chão (1337 Chestnut Street) in quite a bit (they were definitely on my original top Center City Restaurant Week picks back when they still did Restaurant Week . . . gosh I need to update that list. #RIPsalento), so when they invited me in to try some things from their new spring menu, I was obviously all for it (#meat).
If you haven’t been to a Fogo before, let’s get this out of the way: it’s a Brazilian steakhouse. An all-you-can-eat one. Where waiters come around to your table carrying swords of meat that they slice off for you at your beck and call. Plus, in the Center City location, you’re surrounded by French-cut chandeliers and 20 foot ceilings. Pretty standard, really.
In addition to dinner, Fogo has a pretty snazzy (and slightly more approachable for a random night out) bar. They just revamped their bar experience, and I could totally see popping in there more frequently for a drink and some bites. Part of the refresh included adding some new dishes. We tried braised beef rib sliders with caramelized onions and provolone, and the empanadas with picanha, onions, and Chimichurri aioli. I loved the sliders, and while the empanadas did not yield the most blog-ready shot, they still tasted pretty good. The menu also had a new blackberry arugula salad, lentil quinoa salad, and carrot ginger soup, but let’s be honest, I wasn’t there for any of that.
Fogo (and most Brazilian steakhouses) are famous for their Caipirinhas. For spring, they added a Strawberry Hibiscus and Mango Habanero variety. I loved my Mango Habanero, but also obviously tried the Berry Mint on their permanent menu, which was my fav.
The Happy Hour (Monday to Friday, 4:30-6:30 pm) sounds pretty good, with $4 bites & beers, $6 wine, and $8 cocktails.
If you’ll be moving from the bar to dinner, next step is the Market Table, aka the most hooked up salad bar you’ve ever seen. Like salad is not really even the focus. You can also just order the Market Table and Feijoada Bar alone for a cheaper price (including a lunch, you lucky city workers), and, depending on your hunger level, may be just fine. The bar is packed with cheeses, delicious veggies, lox, and naturally, bacon in a bowl. The hearts of palm will always be my favorite.
Once you’ve fully indulged/still saved some room, it’s time for the meat. With a simple flick of the wrist (turning your card from red to green), meat-wielding men start appearing by your table. They give you the scoop of what they have on their skewer, ask you the temperature you want, and keep coming until you flip your card over to red. It’s a wild ride.
I will say, having gone when the restaurant is both packed and when it’s been a little less crowded, I’ve felt the busier things are, the more chances there are to try things you’re going to love. With a packed place, there are just so many options fresh out of the oven ready for you to try, so I’d suggest checking things out on the weekend for the full experience. I’m happy to report my favorites remained the same; I love the parmesan pork and the chicken wrapped in bacon. Freakin good.
If all this talk has sent you into meat sweats, check out Fogo’s locations (there is also one in KOP) and get in there for some of these new spring additions! Center City’s staff – from the bar to dinner to management – was all so sweet. And if you try one of the new salads, please tweet me, because you deserve some serious recognition.
Disclosure: Fogo de Chão treated me to dinner. All opinions are my own.