As obsessed with food as I am, I can always learn something new. At Fogo de Chão, I learned that Brazilian steakhouses are a thing—and they’re hella good. The only thing better than these various Brazilian meats are all-you-can-eat Brazilian meats, and Fogo De Chão’s got it. Here are some highlights of this River North gem.

Fogo de Chao

jerone2 on Flickr

When we arrived on Saturday for lunch, we immediately dove into the market table (buffet) to warm up. I piled my plate high with small eats. 

Market Table

salad, cheese
Jade Goldstein

Pictured here, roughly from the right, counter-clockwise, are Brazilian kale and arugula salad, quinoa tabbouleh, ciabatta bread, roasted zucchini, marinated mushrooms, pineapple, smoked salmon with capers, salami, mozzarella caprese salad, heart of palm, and Parmesan flaked cheese.

It seemed all of these foods connected so well, I almost couldn’t believe they were all just my cherry picking of the buffet. No matter what you pick from the market table, all of it will pair well and have rich flavor.

My exotic venture was the heart of palm. Having never tried this before, it reminded me of artichoke hearts. It was really interesting!

Butternut Squash Soup

broth, bread, parsley, vegetable, cream, soup
Jade Goldstein

My friend got the butternut squash soup from the buffet as well. She loved it, describing it as rich, thick, and flavorful, but also not overwhelming.

When we sat back down, there was a red placard on the table. The back of it was green, so when we flip it over, we cue the meat waiters to come to our table, like so:

Fogo de Chão

LWYang on Flickr

Within two minutes of our flipping of the card, our first two meats—sausage and chicken—came to the table.

Sausage and Chicken

pork, bacon
Jade Goldstein

This was an intense start. The sausage was tender, but it came with quite the spice and a burst of smoky flavor. Even though I'm not a sausage person, I really liked it.

The chicken was similar in its intense flavor, but the saltiness of it was a bit overwhelming for me, so the tones could’ve been a little more balanced. It was even more tender than the sausage, though.

I braced myself for our next meat: pork rib.

Pork Rib

Jade Goldstein

This wasn’t as tender as the chicken by nature of it being a pork rib, but it had peppery, multifaceted flavor and was not as salty. Overall quality was a cut above the sausage.

After this meat overload, we ordered the Brazilian cheese bread (Pao de Queijo) and the mashed potatoes. The bread was airy like a cream puff filled with cheese instead of cream. The mashed potatoes were creamy and peppery but not overwhelmingly heavy. The potato flavor really shined.

Mashed Potatoes

Jade Goldstein

After a few bites of those dishes, we got back to the meat: chicken wrapped in bacon.

Chicken Wrapped in Bacon

cream, bacon
Jade Goldstein

The two meats' flavors played off of each other. The sharp saltiness of the bacon paired with the rich and juicy flavor of the chicken was quite the power combo.

Even when I thought the meal couldn’t get any better, the final two meats blew me away as the best of the meal. The first, and the best in my opinion, was the top sirloin.

Top Sirloin

cauliflower, puree, beet
Jade Goldstein

This was something else. It was so tender that it melted in my mouth, but the fat was also crispy. The textures working together, all while connecting with rich, colorful flavor that only a sirloin can produce, was a divine experience.

Coming in second place was the pork loin, pictured below with a piece of the Brazilian cheese bread mentioned earlier.

Pork Loin

Jade Goldstein

This dish was also a masterpiece. The loin was extremely tender, with charred edges complimenting the spicy burst of flavor on the inside.

The pork loin and the top sirloin were truly excellent. In my view, these should easily be considered the signature meats of Fogo De Chão.

Fried Bananas and Polenta

Jade Goldstein

We topped our meal off with a dessert of fried bananas and polenta. The sweet, buttery, and fluffy polenta partnered very well with the soft, slightly charred bananas. At this point I was completely stuffed!

After this gastronomic adventure at Fogo De Chão, I can definitively say that I will be back. On the whole, this was the best introduction to Brazilian steakhouses that I could’ve hoped for.

While I went to the Chicago location, this restaurant has locations all over the country and the world including Philly, San Diego, Boston, and LA. And priced at $35 in Chicago for lunch? You really have no excuse not to stop in. If you love any and all meat, don’t forgo Fogo De Chão!