Fogo De Chao Meats Ranked From Worst To Best

Sure, a lot of steakhouses have an all-you-can-eat salad bar, but what about unlimited steak? Unless you're eating at a bargain-bin buffet like Golden Corral, that's harder to find. This is why Fogo de Chão is so special. The Brazilian steakhouse chain serves all the steak and other grilled meats that you can possibly gorge yourself on, all for the low, low price of $62.50 (prices may vary depending on location). Of course, $62.50 is a fair bit to pay for a meal, but considering the amount of money you can drop at other steakhouses, it's a bargain. And as you'll see when we dive further into this list, Fogo is serving some seriously high-quality cuts of meat. It's a veritable beef-lover's paradise.

But of course, not all meats are created equal, nor are they all necessarily cooked with the same attention to detail. The servers dressed in gaucho outfits scurrying around with meat skewers are also the people grilling your beef, and they can't always do it perfectly. We visited a Fogo de Chão and did our best to eat every single cut of meat the restaurant offered as part of the full churrasco experience. Some were mildly disappointing, most were good, and some were great. Here they are, ranked from worst to first.

13. Bacon-wrapped chicken

One of the takeaways from our Fogo de Chão dining experience is that you should focus on the beef (and to a lesser extent, the pork). The roots of churrasco-style dining lie in Brazil's cattle-ranching culture, so it makes sense that beef should be the main event. Nothing we ate during our Fogo trip was bad, but we'd skip the bacon-wrapped chicken if we went for a second visit. It was boring, and it took up space in our bellies that we'd prefer to reserve for tastier meats.

This dish consisted of small (approximately 2-inch) pieces of chicken completely enrobed in bacon and grilled. We'd guess that it was made with boneless, skinless chicken breast based on its flavor. Chicken breast is a bland, uninspiring cut of meat, and while the bacon helped out by lending some smokiness and fat, it couldn't completely save the chicken. It didn't help that the chicken itself was unseasoned except maybe for a sprinkle of salt. If it had been marinated like the other cut of chicken you'll see ranked higher on this list was, that would have made a big difference. At least the meat wasn't overcooked, which can be a death sentence for chicken breast. All in all, this option was fine but unmemorable.

12. Bacon-wrapped steak

Both bacon-wrapped options at Fogo are listed as medalhōes com bacon on the menu — if you want to choose one, we'd go with the steak every time. However, even with beef, the medalhōes were overall our least favorite cut of meat.

First, the good: The steak was a big flavor upgrade over the chicken. Our server said it was sirloin, and it had a decent amount of beefy savoriness. It also tasted like it had been seasoned with some kind of garlicky marinade, which we quite enjoyed; the chicken would have benefited from the same treatment. The taste of the bacon and the beef worked well together.

In the not-so-good column, the steak was overcooked to our taste. It was fully well done, and while it wasn't tough or super-dry, it would have been more flavorful if it had been taken off the grill a little earlier. The bacon, in contrast, was a little underdone and flabby. This was a problem with the chicken version as well, but it was particularly pronounced with the steak. Each morsel of meat was smushed together on the skewer with no air space in between, so the parts of the bacon that were touching each other couldn't properly render and become crisp.

11. Lamb chop

This was the first of two cuts of lamb we tried. It was a double-bone lamb loin chop, a premium and expensive cut of meat. We could tell that it was a really nice piece of lamb — it was incredibly tender and had a really nice lamb flavor. This cut struck the perfect balance between sweet and gamey. It was such nice meat that we enjoyed it despite some inconsistencies in how it was cooked.

For us, tender cuts of lamb like this are best served medium to medium rare, but this chop was more like medium well. Only the meat right next to the bone was still pink. The exterior lacked a good, crispy sear; It was gray and relatively soft. The chop had a somewhat bitter burnt-fat taste on the outside. We'd guess that the grill flared up and scorched the fat cap while the meat was cooking. The meat would have benefited from a little more salt to punch up its flavor. This would have been one of the best cuts if it had been cooked with more finesse, but the example we were served needed some help.

10. Garlic sirloin

This cut seemed to be a piece of bottom sirloin, which is not as nice of a cut as the picanha (top sirloin) that appears later on this list. Despite this (and despite the fact that it was cooked well done), it was still tender and tasty. It was a fairly lean piece of beef, which meant that it had a less intense beef flavor than some of the fattier cuts, but it definitely wasn't bland either. The garlic enhanced this cut's taste quite a bit — it had an intense allium punch without overwhelming the beef or becoming bitter.

The garlic sirloin also benefited from a nice sear on the grill. The outside of the meat was deeply caramelized with just a touch of crispy char. Impressively, the garlic on the exterior didn't taste burned despite this deep level of browning. If we were to improve this cut, we'd add a little more salt and cook it closer to medium rare. Ultimately, though, no matter how skillfully it's cooked, bottom sirloin can't compare to some of the choicer cuts on Fogo de Chão's menu.

9. Lamb steak

We're not exactly sure what cut of lamb this was; both lamb options are listed together on Fogo's menu as cordeiro, with one of them being described as lamb picanha. Perhaps this was top sirloin, if we're to take the picanha description literally. Whatever it was, we liked it. It was chewier than the loin chop, but not unpleasantly so; it was still quite tender. Our piece was also a beautiful pink medium on the inside, just how we like our lamb. The lamb steak had a stronger gamey lamb flavor than the chop. We enjoyed this, but some people may prefer the chop's milder taste. Crucially, the burnt oil flavor that marred the lamb chop was not present at all in the lamb steak.

However, like the chop, the steak hardly had any sear on it. The exterior was gray and a little sad-looking. Some caramelization would have vaulted this cut into the upper echelon of Fogo de Chão meats, but as it stands, we still enjoyed its strong lamb flavor.

8. Beef rib

Most cuts of meat at Fogo are ones that benefit from relatively quick, high-heat cooking — steaks and chops are relatively tender and don't contain a lot of connective tissue that needs to be broken down over time. The beef rib is an exception to this rule; it fares best with long, slow cooking to make it soft and unctuous. This cut appeared to be a meaty piece of beef short rib, gently roasted until it was almost falling apart on the inside but with a crispy, caramelized exterior. The crunchy surface of the beef looked amazing and tasted wonderful, but it was also tough, dry, and stringy.

Texturally, the soft beef from the interior of the rib was a lot better. It could be cut with a fork and was melt-in-your-mouth tender. Short ribs are one of the beefiest-tasting parts of a cow, and the version served by Fogo de Chão was no exception, with loads of meaty umami flavor. However, it would have been twice as good with about twice as much salt. The fattier a piece of meat is (and beef ribs are super fatty), the more salt it needs to truly sing, and the rib was a bit under-seasoned. That being said, it's hard to muck up shorts ribs that badly as long as they're tender, so we still happily scarfed down our whole portion.

7. Linguica

About halfway through our meal, the whole restaurant filled up with people all at once, and the kitchen was clearly having a hard time keeping up with the demand for meat. For a stretch, it felt like the only meat making its way around the dining room was the pork linguica sausage, and still, most of the diners around us refused it. We're not sure why, as the linguica was super tasty — perhaps people were saving their tummies for steak.

This sausage was packed with flavor from the seasonings mixed into the meat. Paprika and garlic were the two most prominent notes, and they complemented the fatty ground pork wonderfully. The casing also had a beautiful snappy char on it that we loved. The sausage's texture was smooth and gristle-free, which we appreciated. Our main complaint was that the meat inside the link was a little too soft and smooth. If the crunchy casing hadn't been there, we're not sure we would have been into that soft texture. It seemed like there might have been some rice mixed into the sausage meat, which may have contributed to the mushiness.

6. Chicken thigh

This was an excellent piece of chicken. Bone-in, skin-on thighs are the most flavorful, juiciest part of the bird, and they are delicious when grilled. This chicken was perfectly cooked, with a moist, tender interior and a decent amount of smoky flavor. The skin could have been a little crispier, but it still tasted great, and we ate all of it.

Unlike most of the meats at Fogo de Chão, which are simply seasoned with salt, the chicken thighs (and drumsticks, which we also saw floating around the dining room) have what tastes like a piri-piri-style marinade on them. The chicken we ate really benefited from being so assertively seasoned. The marinade imparted flavors of chile pepper, paprika, citrus, garlic, and herbs to the meat. It wasn't just on the exterior of the bird, either; the marinade penetrated all the way down to the bone. We loved this chicken, but ultimately, the real reason to go to Fogo is to chow down on red meat. As nicely prepared as it was, this chicken thigh still couldn't hold a candle to our favorite cuts of beef and pork.

5. Pork chop

Speaking of other cuts of meat, the pork chop was amazing. It was a double-bone pork loin chop, basically the same cut as the lamb chop but much larger, so the gaucho sliced pieces of it for each diner rather than serving the whole chop. We got slices from close to the edge, which we were quite happy about. The best part of this cut was the crispy part on the outside. It tasted like the whole chop was coated in some kind of pureed garlic mixture before it hit the grill; as the chop cooked, this marinade hardened into a crunchy, caramelized crust with an incredible texture and flavor.

The downside of getting an edge piece was that the pork was more cooked than we would have liked. It was well done and on the verge of being a bit dry. However, the chop had a wonderfully strong pork flavor and was still quite tender, so we couldn't complain too much. This was worlds away from a typical bland supermarket pork chop, and if we had room, we would have gone back for seconds.

4. Flank steak

Now we're getting into the top-tier options from Fogo. The flank steak wasn't listed on the menu, but we're glad the restaurant had it on our visit. This cut is rippled with large meat fibers, which means it has a lot of surface area with hills and valleys that develop some nice browning over an open fire. Although the outside of the meat wasn't very crispy, it tasted deeply seared, with intense Maillard flavors and just the right amount of char. It was perfectly seasoned with salt to bring out the natural flavor of the beef.

Flank steak has a reputation for being a tougher cut, and while the one from Fogo had some chew to it, it was surprisingly tender. Although the piece we ate was cooked medium well, it didn't become bland or tough from overcooking. It had a robust, grassy beef flavor with just a hint of gaminess. It lacked the sweet, luxurious taste of some of the fattier cuts, but it had a special flavor all its own.

3. Pork belly

This was one of the most indulgent pieces of meat we ate at Fogo de Chão, and it was executed almost flawlessly. We love pork belly with the skin on, but sometimes if it's not done right, the skin can be too hard and difficult to eat. The skin on this was crisped up superbly, with a bubbly, airy texture that was reminiscent of fried pork rinds. The meat underneath was just as good: slow-cooked to tender, succulent perfection. Pork belly is inherently a fatty cut of meat, but the fat in this was well-rendered, leaving mostly meat with only enough fat to give you a great porky flavor.

Unlike most of the other meats at Fogo, this one was presented on a wooden platter instead of a skewer. The platter also had a bowl of honey on it; when you're served a slice of pork belly, the gaucho asks if you want it drizzled with honey. Always take the honey — the sweetness is the ideal pairing with the fatty, crispy pork. All together, it almost tasted like American barbecue with a sweet honey glaze. The only way we could have improved it is by adding more salt.

2. Ribeye

Fogo de Chão's menu has a list of meats that come with the churrasco all-you-can-eat experience. You'd think it would be easy to snag any of the meats from a passing gaucho, but in our experience, the restaurant tries to hide some of the choicer cuts. We had to specifically ask our waiter to bring us the filet mignon and ribeye (which are both typically quite expensive on their own). Despite multiple requests, the filet sadly never made it to our table. Thankfully, the ribeye did, and it became our second-favorite bite of the whole evening.

The ribeye wasn't seasoned very heavily with salt, nor did it have much of a char from the grill, but neither of those things mattered because it was such an amazing piece of meat. It had a sweet, clean beefiness that the humbler cuts simply didn't possess, and it was absurdly tender. We barely had to chew it — it was almost like eating beef-flavored butter. A healthy amount of marbled fat certainly helped out in the flavor department as well. While we would have loved some crispy caramelization on the outside, the fact that there was no char meant that no bitter undertones were present in the flavor, letting the pure medium-rare beef shine. If you're dining at Fogo de Chão and the server doesn't bring you any ribeye, make sure to request some before you leave.

1. Picanha

Picanha is the house specialty of Fogo de Chão and perhaps the most iconic cut of churrasco-style dining. It consists of thick chunks of top sirloin butchered in a way that leaves a large fat cap attached. As the meat turns on the grill, some of the fat melts and coats the exterior of the steak, creating an even layer of burnished golden-brown caramelization over every square inch of beef. The fat lends the beef an almost deep-fried quality and a level of crunchiness unmatched by any cut. The part of the fat cap that doesn't melt is edible and delicious — it almost tastes like beef bacon.

The meat underneath the fat is just as good. Although top sirloin isn't as pricey or luxurious as ribeye or filet mignon, it's still quite tender. The slice we sampled was super juicy and cooked to a perfect medium rare. It was also quite well-seasoned — intensely salty, which is the way we like to eat fatty cuts of beef. The meat itself was more flavorful than any other cut except maybe the ribeye, and the crackling crust on the outside put the picanha over the top. The great news is that picanha isn't one of the cuts that gets squirreled away in the back — a skewer of picanha came to our table unprompted multiple times throughout the meal. If we didn't have to try every single cut of meat, we would have gladly accepted seconds, thirds, or even fourths.