Gaslamp Quarter Restaurant Spotlight : Fogo de Chao

Team GQA got a chance to celebrate the flavors of Brazil at Fogo de Chao

For the Summer Olympic Games it is not only great to honor the athletes who have trained so hard in hopes of getting the gold, but also to celebrate the host country. The XXXI Olympiad’s summer games are being hosted by Brazil, and you don’t have to go to Rio to experience the wonderful flavors of this rich and diverse country! Team GQA had the pleasure of sitting down to dinner at one of the Gaslamp Quarter’s incredible Brazillian Churrascaria Steak houses, Fogo de Chao.

Once we entered the elegantly rustic restaurant on the corner of 6th and G street, we were welcomed by a group of hostesses who sat us next to a window right away. We then ordered a traditional Brazillian cocktail, the Fogo Caipirinha, with Silver Aged Cacasa, muddled limes and cane sugar and were greeted by Kristin Kuscinzi, Sales Manager at Fogo de Chao. Kristin gave us the rich history of the restaurant, telling us the founders grew up on a traditional Southern Brazilian farm in the Serra Gaucha. It is there that they learned to cook in the churrasco grilling tradition that would become the backbone of Fogo de Chao’s story.

“Fogo de Chao, means fire on the ground in Portugese, that was how the meat was cooked,” said Kristin, “And from the first restaurant in Porto Alegre, Brazil to now, everyone who is a part of Fogo de Chao, knows we have a great culinary reputation to uphold.” The Gaslamp location is the only Fogo de Chao in San Diego and is one of 42 restaurants across the US, Brazil and Mexico.

Like Kristin said, when team GQA sat down to experience Fogo de Chao, we could tell the service was made up of those who wanted to pass on their pride for their restaurants great culinary reputation. Many of the servers, gaucho chefs and staff had transferred from other locations around the world, and have been with Fogo de Chao for many years!

Indeed, our servers were extremely attentive and solicitous. They instructed us about the fresh, high-quality ingredients, and let us know to great ready to experience fantastic fine dining! Alejandro was our waiter and we started with the pao de queijo. When you bite into this little roll it is warm, with a lightly crisped outer shell and glutinous, mochi- like, chewy center. Then there is this faint cheesiness and you realize these 2 inch puffs are dangerous, addictive and can sabotage your entire meal! “Don’t fill up on too much of the pao de queijo, or the market table!” said Alejandro, referring to the 30-plus-item salad bar in the next room.

We decided to get up and peruse the market table in the next room. The vibrant colors of the produce– reds, greens, yellows, purples — leap out, the selection varied and displayed enticingly.

Marinated artichoke hearts, balsamic pearl onions, roasted red and yellow peppers, asparagus, whole roasted beets, fresh pineapple, fresh melon, tossed salads and more are on offer.

The cheeses, smoked salmon, charcuterie (salami, prosciutto and bresaola) are a delite and hot items like– Brazilian black bean Fogo Feijoada, a traditional black bean stew with sausage served over white rice are amazing. You can season the stew to your liking with fresh orange, malagueta hot sauce and sprinkled farofa, which is baked yucca flour with bacon.


Bacon wrapped Chicken

Brazil’s cocktail, the Caipirinha

Guests enjoy the ambiance!

The “on, off” cards for each guest.

Once we were finished with the first course, we decided to dive into the meat! The minute we flipped our “on-off cards” from red to green, indicating that we wanted to be served, three gaúchos descended upon us, flanking each side of our of table with glistening cuts of meat.

“Would you like top sirloin?” one asked as -another showed off a skewer of bacon-wrapped chicken, while yet another brandished a juicy-looking chunk of rib eye.

For first-timers, like us the meat parade is a thrilling experience. The servers are constantly weaving back and forth between the table and the kitchen, so that all the meats arrive at your table charred to a light crisp. There are glistening long cuts of alcatra, top sirloin, the meat firmer in texture than the equally delectable rib eye, a denser, smoother piece of meat that tasted like a cross between a juicy roast beef and a more tender prime rib.

Leg of lamb and lamb chops, garlic beef, pork loin, and costela de porco (pork ribs) are also on rotation.

When your button is on green, it’s an all-out, eat-as-much-as-you-can, nonstop, sensational meat feast, and you can load up, top up and get seconds or thirds to your heart’s desire. The attentive staff also gave us some incredible garlic mashed potatoes, fried polenta with sprinkled parmesan, caramelized bananas and a group of sauces. Like homemade hot sauce, Chimichurri, Horseradish sauce, and mint jelly. We also enjoyed the Fogo Malbec from Argentina. This full bodied red wine paired deliciously with our meal, and as we looked around we could see the restaurants incredible wine cellar, filled with fine vintages from around the world.

As novices , we were very full and knew that we might find it hard to walk, but wanted to end on a sweet note by trying their Papaya cream! This sweet iced cream came served in a crystal goblet and tasted like vanilla ice cream with a perfect hint of papaya. On the top of the luxurious cream they drizzled crème de cassis and placed blackberries and blueberries perfectly to finish it off.

As we peered around the restaurant, guests smiled, and the venue hummed with gratitude from experiencing a special dining experience. Team GQA is honored to have this great culinary treasure in the Gaslamp Quarter. Book a table for lunch or for dinner. As we celebrate the host country of the Olympics for the Summer Games why not immerse yourself in Brazil’s food, drink and hospitality? Fogo de Chao knows how to do just that!