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Rio en Chicago

by Phil Vettel

Rio en Chicago. Meat just the way gauchos like it, by Phil Vettel. Fogo de Chao. I thought this operation (the name translates to "fire on the ground") was the best when I compared churrascarias in 2002; the addition of five competitors hasn't changed my mind. The stone-and-hardwood dining room is handsome and impressive without being showy; the salad bar is large and inviting. The glassed-in wine room is a visual reminder of how seriously this restaurant takes its wines (the list has garnered awards from Wine Spectator)--it has a particularly strong selection of South American (including Brazilian) wines. Meat highlights include juicy leg of lamb and terrific sliced tenderloin, though my favorite is the butter-soft cubes of pork loin dusted with parmesan. Service is spectacular; the gauchos not only ask for your temperature preference, they remember it. Servers are quick with fresh plates and flatware, and when I strolled to the salad bar a waiter (not mine) took a few steps out of his way just to hand me a plate. Rating: five skewers.


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