Fogo de Chão
661 N. Lasalle, Chicago, IL, USA

The delirious decadence of Medieval Times, the gluttonous stomachfuck of Old Country Buffet, and the unapologetic ritziness of SpagoFogo de Chão has it all. Ridiculously good cuisine served ridiculously, at appropriately ridiculous prices.

Meat, meat, and more meat is the theme here – more meat than you can eat, daring you with every moment to see just how far you can push it. Despite the posh décor and upscale clientele, this is basically no different from a truckstop smorgasbord, cafeteria-style layout and all. Except that the food is uniformly excellent, from the smallest artichoke you place on your salad plate to the most succulent piece of steak they carve off for you, even as you begin to suffocate, your esophogus crammed top to bottom with meat, meat, and more meat.

Fogo is a Brasilian gaúcho-style steakhouse, wherein you are served meat continually, as much as you want, for as long as you want, until you finally must throw in the towel and run out for an emergency colonoscopy. The dinner begins with an extravagant salad bar containing only the tastiest and finest-quality ingredients, but even this bountiful cornucopia of deliciousness is mere prelude to the pure degeneracy of the gaúcho experience.

You are given a small card, one side red and the other green. If your card is green-side-up, servers will descend upon your table offering every variation of beef, lamb, chicken, and pork off giant skewers, carved right on the spot to your specifications. If you don't want any given type of meat that is offered, you can decline, but if the card stays green-side-up, more and more servers will circle in and bring you other choices. After awhile, you simply assent to try them all, until you start feeling woozy and/or your heart stops.

The infantry of aproned servers, carving utensils swinging at their sides like Roman swords, is an impressive thing to behold. How they manage to adequately serve the entire room, constantly, without disappointing anyone, at any moment, and while never losing the grace and poise of seasoned ballet dancers as they weave around the tables – well, I just can't imagine how they do it. Perhaps it's just that after a few plates of meat, most patrons are too bleary-eyed and focused on their breathing to notice any missteps to the dance.

At some point, the red side must be turned up, for you can have no more. Then, after another glass or two of wine and/or water, you decide to have just a little more. Finally, you really do need to stop or you're in danger of winding up like that guy from the Monty Python movie who explodes all over the restaurant.

I've eaten here a few times (it's an unbeatable place to take someone you want to impress, especially if they're paying), and I always leave having eaten what seems like five or six pounds of meat (and I go for rare meat, to boot). This leads to an instant vow not only to never eat meat again, but simply to never eat anything again. After a few hours, my breathing returns to normal, and after a couple of days, so does my appetite.

The version of me who was Vegan for a number of years seems to have been fully throttled to death in the wake of Fogo. Ah, who cares … that guy was a real fucking killjoy, anyway.

shiny dr. teeth tooth

Loud Bassoon rating scale

Review by Thomas Long-and-Strong, April 2004