I had heard about Brazilian steakhouses before moving to Miami and since moving here they had been recommended to me often. I’d had Brazilian food before (at Boteco on NE 79th St), but had heard the experience of a Brazilian steakhouse was on a whole other level. When in my search for gluten-free restaurants I found out that Fogo de Chao has gluten-free cheese bread I knew I had to visit! I had to wait about two weeks before I went, but was thinking about it excitedly the whole time.
How the Brazilian steakhouse concept works is that there are two main courses to your meal- a large salad bar course and the highlight of the meal the meat course! The salad bar by itself would be a great meal- tons of fresh vegetables, toppings, meats, and cheeses. You can go as many times as you’d like, even after you start the meat course, but I’d highly recommend you save tons of room for the meat. At your table you have a chip with a red and green side. When you’re ready for your meat course you turn it to the green side. This signals to the chefs (called gaucho chefs) to stop by your table and offer you various types of meat (Fogo de Chao has 15 options) on skewers to be carved onto your plate. You can accept or decline whatever meat they are offering. When your plate is filled up or you’d like a break from the offerings of meat you flip your chip back to the red side. When you finish what’s on your plate or get a second wind then you can switch it again to green.
I started with a plate of salad, plus some of their meats and cheeses. I was worried about taking up more room than I should with the salad bar, but I always have loved salad bars and decided to take that risk. I’m glad I did because it is a nice salad bar. When I returned there was a basket of warm cheesy bread at our table- the gluten-free cheesy bread I had been so excited to try. The bread is made from tapioca flour and are moist and soft with a cheesy inside. It was delicious and reminded me of the Pan de Yuca bread I’ve found in some grocery stores down here. At that point I knew it was the bread that would derail my strategy of saving room for the meat. Practically everything on the menu is gluten-free with the exception of the croutons and regular bread at the salad bar.
To be honest the Brazilian steakhouse is really about the meat right? Well the meat was really delicious. They have various cuts of beef and pork plus chicken, lamb, and sausage. I usually am not a big pork eater, but they were some of my favorite cuts. The pork tenderloin was very moist and flavorful, but my favorite was the Lombo, which was pork loin sliced into filets and encrusted in Parmesan cheese coating. I also really enjoyed the thinly sliced flank steak and the garlic beef tenderloin. The chicken (one wrapped in bacon) and the sausage was also good.
In addition when you start the meat course you’re given three side dishes- mashed potatoes, polenta, and plantains. The mashed potatoes were good, plus it had some spices added and the plantains were sweet like always. I only had a little bit space for the sides though.
The service was great- plenty of servers that paid close attention to your needs. They would ask you if there was a certain cut of meat you were looking for and then make sure that gaucho chef came over to you, plus paid close attention to your drinks, sides, and plates.
I would strongly recommend Fogo de Chao for those looking to experience the Brazilian steakhouse and especially for those looking for a gluten-free meal (the cheese bread was delicious and it was great to not have to worry about items on the menu). Fogo de Chao has many locations around the country for readers elsewhere. Dinner was about $50 per person with tax and tip without alcoholic drinks or dessert (there was no room for that!). I definitely felt it was worth the price but lunch is listed as $26 plus tax and tip so that could be a cheaper alternative and something I might try the next time I want to visit.
Afterwards we took a walk in South Pointe Park to burn off all the food, which is one of my favorite places in South Beach (check out my review in Best Miami Urban Outdoor Escapes). If you decide like us that you’re too full for dessert at Fogo de Chao but get some second wind later we stopped off at 4D Gelato after our walk at the corner of South Pointe Dr and Washington Ave. The gelato was super creamy (I got Caramel Cream and Stracciatella, both were very delicious) and is some of the best I’ve had in Miami so I would also recommend a stop there!