Full disclosure: Fogo de Chão invited us to this dinner, but all opinions are my own.
Back in early November, on the first day of our Nashville trip, while we were walking around and getting our bearings, we passed by a Rodizio Brazillian steakhouse and Michael made a comment about how we should go there for dinner one night. I (jokingly) chided him that we are a Fogo family, damnit, and that I wouldn’t brook that kind of talk in my hearing!
About two hours later, I received an invitation to dine at Fogo de Chão here in Baltimore as part of an event to show off their freshly-done renovations to the space as well as some more indulgent additions to their menu. While I was very weirded out by the timing of it all, I immediately responded yes and signed up Michael as my guest. Yes, we were going to be attending this the same day we were coming back from Miami, but when Fogo offers dinner, the answer (for us) is always yes.
I’ve written about dinners we’ve had at this location before, but unlike those occasions, this was an event that brought together a bunch of local bloggers and influencers from the area and so it felt more like a party than a simple night out at the restaurant. (Well, for me that was the case once the awkwardness eased and I started talking to my fellow attendees.) The night started with us in their bar area complete with cocktails, small bites, and glasses of wine, and it was here where we were able to try a bunch of their different versions of the caipirinha, which was a real treat. My favorite remains the passion fruit version, and the next time I find myself at Fogo looking for a drink I’ll likely be ordering that first.
The abundance of wonderful passed appetizers included their beef ribs, which always serve to remind Michael of his grandmother’s preparation of them. Though I doubt she served them with chimichurri sauce, the version that Fogo sends along with them cuts the fattiness of the meat with some much-needed acidity. The empanadas that they had were also tasty, but I couldn’t take a proper photo that did them justice. Another nice addition to the bar experience was the duet performing a mix of bossa nova, Latin jazz, and other similar genres.
As someone who usually prefers to always sit at the bar when I’m at a restaurant, especially if I’m by myself or with Michael, I was intrigued when we learned that the brand wants to encourage guests to first come and have a drink and a small bite there but if they would like a taste of the churrascaria experience without the full commitment to eating all of the meats, that’s possible too.
As fun as the cocktail hour was, the real event was the churrascaria experience itself. We were ushered into their private room where we were introduced to several members of Fogo’s senior leadership team and were given some of the details of both the renovation and what they describe as a more indulgent direction with their menu.
The main change they made to the space overall was brightening it by lightening the wood trim and updating the walls with a softer, cream-colored wallpaper. This was immediately apparent to me when we stepped inside, and I loved how much easier it was to take photos in the dining area as a result of this! To me it also made the offerings at the Market Table pop more than they did previously, making them all the more appealing. (I feel the overhead lights are brighter but not overly so, which also helps.)
As for their turn towards the more indulgent, this new focus is all about offering more premium options. While the Fogo experience has always been an upscale one, more recently they have added new cuts of beef that are ideal for groups of four or more who are interested in something a little more extravagant during their experience. Previously Fogo had a New York strip steak available (we’ve had it and it was very tasty!), but now they have a Wagyu New York strip that’s been aged for 21 days and served on a sizzling hot Himalayan salt block. There’s also the long-bone ribeye (also known as a tomahawk chop) that’s aged for 43 days, and boy is it a thing to behold on a gaucho-wielded sword. It should come as no surprise that both were fantastic–the strip, in particular, is so tender that it practically melts in your mouth. The long bone ribeye is the leading photo of this post, while the Wagyu is below.
The highlight of the evening for us and for many of our fellow diners was meeting Eulila Selma Oliviera, the chief culture officer of Fogo and arguably the heart of the brand. She visited all of the tables and not only were we able to gush about how much we enjoy her namesake wine whenever we’re here but just how much we love the brand as a whole. She was, naturally, incredibly gracious and we may have landed an invitation to dine at the corporate restaurant in Dallas, which would be a pretty singular experience.
Overall, it was such a fantastic evening. Not only was it wonderful to connect with some fellow local food enthusiasts, but watching us all at work with our oversize lights and giant cameras was an utter hoot. (For the first time in a while I didn’t feel like a total heel for busting out my large camera and take lots of photos from multiple angles.) The lizard part of my brain was particularly excited to get the gift bag at the end of it, which contained both a tumbler and a spherical ice cube mold, and it should come as little surprise that both have already been put to good use.
Obrigado, Fogo! We can’t wait to come back!