Last Thursday, Brazilian steakhouse Fogo de Chão opened its doors to the public in Las Vegas for the first time in its 32-year history. But the night before its Hughes Center location (360 E. Flamingo Road, 431-4500) officially became the company’s 24th outpost, local media and guests were invited inside the 400-seat dining room for a sneak preview of the meat feast that Fogo’s gauchos served up every night.
- Fogo de Chão
- 360 E. Flamingo Road, 431-4500.
- Lunch, Monday-Friday, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., $26.50 (salad bar only, $19.50)
- Dinner, Monday-Thursday, 5-10 p.m.; Friday, 5-10:30 p.m.; Saturday, 4:30.-10:30 p.m.; Sunday, 4-9 p.m., $44.50 (salad bar only $22.50)
And feast we did, digging into an array of freshly cooked cuts like filet mignon, top sirloin, rib eye, pork ribs and leg of lamb and washing them down with glasses of Cabernet from the restaurant’s lovely exposed wine cellar. We devoured endless sides of garlic mashed potatoes, caramelized bananas and addictive pão de queijo cheese bread and salad bar favorites like cheeses, cured meats, grilled veggies and actual salad.
But perhaps the best part of the meal was chatting with Fogo's energetic servers in Brazilian-style harem pants, who descended upon the table like they were the hungry ones, holding long skewers laden with American meat cooked to South American perfection. The gauchos here do their own grilling—each responsible for a different cut cooked over charcoal—with each guest downing the equivalent of a 1.5 pounds of uncooked meat apiece. With over 300 people cycling through the all-you-can-eat affair on an average evening, that's a whole lot of cow, and, for the gauchos, a whole lot of carnivores to keep track of. Having the servers also on kitchen duty means they make sure the bacon-wrapped filet freaks get their fill and the girl who prefers her steak rare gets it cooked just the way she likes it. It also means asking for recommendations on the best meat is foolish. The answer you’re likely to receive in adorably accented English: “Mine, of course.”