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Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence

Fogo de Chão, a new Southern Brazilian steak house on La Cienega, provides not only excellent meat, but a fascinating dining experience. Meat roasted over an open wood-burning fire is the specialty here, which is in keeping with the 300-year-old gaucho tradition. A striking blue tower marks the restaurant as you drive on La Cienega. The dramatic entryway is created by a two-story, temperature-controlled wine cellar housing over 10,000 bottles. A dramatic rectangular salad bar is a dominant feature in the cener of the various dining areas, while walls feature murals of gaucho life. Once seated, a basket of light, puffy cheese bread promptly arrives. These scrumptious pao de queijo are best eaten immediately while they are warm. And then, you head to the extraordinary salad bar. A little smoked lox, some very fresh greens, hearts of palm, beautiful green beans, flavorful tabouleh, potato salad, marinated peppers, wafer-thin prosciutto, cucumbers, endive, exquisite tiny beets, artichoke hearts, asparagus spears, tomatoes, cheeses and much more are displayed. You help yourself as many times as you like. Then, you turn up the double sided red-and-green disk on your table, which indicates to the gaucho chefs that you are ready to begin service. The Brazilian-trained churrasco chefs have gently seasoned and slow cooked large pieces of premium cut beef, lamb, pork and chicken over an open flame. They then bring a long skewer of meat to your table and slice off a piece as you wish. The gaucho chefs circulate continuously. When you want a respite, you simply turn over the disk to the "No thank you" side. This gives diners the opportunity to relax and converse, or try another piece of meat, at their own pace. And what beautiful tasty meat this is. The seasonings give each piece of beef different flavor. There is both top and bottom sirloin, tender succulent beef ribs, leg of lamb and mint-flavored lamb chops, pork, tender smoky-flavored chicken breasts wrapped in bacon, and pork sausages. While you savor each bite of this excellent meat, the waiter brings salsa and hot sauce if you wish, along with side dishes of terrific black beans and rice, hot crispy fried polenta, garlic mashed potatoes and sweet fried plantains. A spoonful of passion fruit sorbet with a chocolate piroline and rich dark espresso make a perfect ending to this superb dinner. In addition to the fine food, the restaurant has received Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence for its wines, and offers full bar service...


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