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Fogo De Chao coming to Minneapolis [Moved from Midwest]

I looked a few pages deep in this forum and didn't see any mention of the opening of Fogo De Chao in Minneapolis. I used to eat at the Chicago location prior to moving to the Twin Cities and can't wait for this place to open. It opens on the 19th.

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  1. Yeah...I've been looking forward to this for a few months now.

    My arteries and bank account have not.

    2 Replies
    1. re: MSPD

      The cost seems to be a concern. I checked the website and the menu page does not include prices. What can one expect to pay per person (food only)?

      1. re: BatMan

        $25 for lunch, $45 for dinner if I rtemember correctly. We went to the one in Dallas, well, outside of Dallas. Oh so very good.

    2. I went to Fogo De Chao once when I lived in Atlanta and enjoyed it. We'll definitely go to the Minneapolis location when the urge strikes but I doubt it will become a regular spot because of the price, the huge quantities, and the fact that we're not chain restaurant people.

      4 Replies
      1. re: katebauer

        Finally, something to replace Mojito! I only went there twice, but loved it. I've had the Brazilian grill concept in a few other cities and it's great for special occasions. We absolutely should have it here in MSP. I think Mojito failed, though, because I fear the Twin Cities might be too small of a market for a place that for many is a "special occasion" only eatery. We'll see how Fogo does.

        1. re: pgokey

          It could possibly do well. The melting pot seems to live on as a special occaison only place. That corner seems to be a death-zone however (Copeland's) So I wouldn't be surprised if it does go under soon.

          1. re: mnitchals

            ha! they have the whole copeland's bar set up in bauer bros! and the host stand too! that is kind of a tough corner for both chain and non-chain places.

        2. re: katebauer

          My DH and I went to the Atlanta location as well. All I can say is WOW, and go on an EMPTY stomach!

          The whole atmosphere was 'cool', and I think they will do well when there are conventions and on 'business nights'. It might slow down, thus (fingers crossed) specials during the winter and other 'dead times' in the Cities. Then again, this is probably wishfull thinking on my part :)

        3. So just how much does it cost? The web site says it’s prix-fixe, but it doesn’t say what the prix is....

          Can anyone who’s been to one of their other locations give us an idea?

          3 Replies
          1. re: Uncle Ira

            I have never been to one. But based on one of the reviews on it's website. It looks like these are the prices:

            The Travel Lady
            April 1, 2006

            "At first glance, prices at Fogo de Chão may seem a bit expensive, $44.50 for dinner, $29.50 for lunch, but when one factors in what’s included in the price (only dessert and beverages are extras), they end up being more economic than other a la carte steak houses in Dallas. Lighter eaters or vegetarians can also gorge on the extensive salad bar alone, which includes meats like prosciuto and bacon, for $19.50 at either meal. "

            1. re: starburst

              Yup, that seems about right. I remember paying about $50 for the all you can eat meat dinner. You can pay less and do all you can eat salad bar - which is the most amazing salad bar I've ever seen, but I'm not sure why you would do that when you're going to a place known for steak.

              ETA: Oops, Only read the 1st sentence of the article starburst posted. Sorry for the repeat on the salad bar.

              1. re: starburst

                Wow... Well, I look forward reading what people have to say about it once it opens, but that’s about as close as I’m ever going to get to eating there. The banh mi at Saigon are more in line with my budget.

                Good thing I love them so much....

                Uncle Ira

            2. we used to go to the original Fogo de Chao in Sao Paulo, Brazil, at least one Sunday a month. I have been to the one in Atlanta and Chicago - the concept travels well, although some of the best cuts of meat are not available here. I hope Mpls gets a good selection, not just a slimmed-down menu
              Regarding the cost, it is high… but all i can say is that $50 per person is what a fine dinner costs this days ($28 for a fish dish, $35 for a steak, plus appetizers at $8-10 and a salad in between...). At least here you'll eat more than anywhere else, and if you go for a late lunch on a weekend you may not need another meal until Monday =)

              1. this is the biggest no brainer of all time. an all-the-meat-you-can-eat theme restaurant with costumed waiters in Minneapolis...they are going to make a killing. It'll just be comi-tragic to see the homeless people gawking @ the meat on a spit in the big picture window on the corner.

                5 Replies
                1. re: g rote

                  hold on: costumes? do they sing and ring a bell when you tip them too?

                  1. re: soupkitten

                    They wear Brasilian cowboy costumes.

                  2. re: g rote

                    I agree, but I think the price will turn people off. At Alma you can get the best 3 course meal in the city for $42 and people think it's too expensive.

                    1. re: katebauer

                      do the costumes push the whole thing into gimmicky? i agree that for the $$ i'd be way more inclined to go to Alma. i think the prix will smack the avg MSP diner in such a way that most won't even try it, & there aren't enough pro athletes around here to make the concept fly. what do i know, though.

                      1. re: soupkitten

                        the costumes are just gaucho pants and blue shirts, nothing too weird. It's true that it's not “fine” dining in the sense of a superior gourmet experience (La Belle Vie, Alma, etc), but it is a really good steakhouse. It will likely compete with Manny's, Ruth Chris, Morton's, etc. The price is similar…. and these places do get a good share of biz every week. Steak is not my idea of special occasion and I’ve only been to Manny’s on biz dinners, but there’s a public out there for this idea, trust me.
                        PS: in Brazil, this kind of place is favored by groups - or families on weekend lunches (their busiest time): you go around 2PM on Sunday and just linger around for hours being served… it’s a family event, and the earlier hour gives you time to digest before bed time =)

                  3. I recently went to the one in Beverly Hills and it was $52.50 per person. I wasn't that impressed with it to be honest with you. The tables are so close together you can eat off your neighbors plate. Their selection had also decreased. It was good, but really not worth the money. I ate at the Dallas one several years ago and that was a great dining experience.

                    1. I'm sorry, I have to say it, but for all the chest beating and sky is falling following Levain and Auriga closing, why would one be excited to have this cities money funneled from local restaurants and families into the pockets of a restaurant group? I guess perhaps I'm looking at the bigger picture when all I should be looking at is the 3000 calories of steak I'd be irresponsible in consuming.

                      I've eaten at Fogo De Chao in Dallas and Atlanta for business dinners, and while it was fun and kitzchy, I knew there was a better steak at Del Friscos a few blocks away.

                      It just seems unfathomable to me. I can get a $50 prime steak at Murray's that will more than fill me. Heck for $40 I can get a tasting menu at La Belle Vie or Fugaise, local restaurtants owned by local families. I promise those places scream special occasion.

                      This is not at all an attack on those that enjoy Fogo, I myself find it amusing and love the polenta and bananas, but I just ask that it's potential effect on local restaurants be considered.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Foureyes137

                        Whether or not one is excited by Fogo de Chao or not, it's clear that there is a place in this market for this kind of a restaurant. Frankly, I'd just as soon spend my money at a local restaurant as at a chain and intend to do so. But given the choice between going to another corporate chain in town with the same price point (The Capital Grille, Ruth's Chris, Mortons, or maybe McCormick & Schmick's) and something that might be a teensy bit more adventurous or exciting, I'd take the "adventure," thanks.

                        I figure it's like Vegas for me. I'm sure I'll end up there sometime for one thing or another, so there's no sense in making specific plans to go.

                        1. re: bob s

                          I hear you. I've had my fair share of brisket from Famous Dave's, I just figured it needed to be said.

                          For me though, I'd have thought Olive Garden would have made a killing that close to the theater district. Shows what I know.

                        2. re: Foureyes137

                          Thank you Foureyes! A point that is very much needed to be said. It's bad enough that most people in this town only go out only for 'special occasions', and I do agree if I had the money to spend I might try it, but if we have restaurants like those you mentioned closing all around us, this is very much a call to go and support your local restaurants. I really don't think Fogo will be buying their meats from Wild Acres, do you?

                        3. The prices are not high at all at Fogo De Chao. It is definitely not a "special occasion" only restaurant. When we are in Houston, we eat there several times a week when time allows. The food is consistently wonderful at the other locations that we have tried. The desserts can be a little weak, but the Papaya Cream dessert is wonderful if done correctly. The salad bar is wonderful too. The waiters, captains, sommeliers where gaucho costumes. Nothing cheesy though. Service has always been wonderful at the other locations too.

                          9 Replies
                          1. re: MIKELOCK34

                            We eat out a lot, and often with little regard for price (as in we'll just as readily go to Alma as Jasmine Deli) but I do think $50 excluding drinks is expensive for an every day restaurant. Honestly I couldn't imagine eating there more than once every 6 months or so, as you're completely stuffed with beef by the time you leave. You must have a much stronger stomach than me!

                            I agree with others, I think some Minnesotans will balk at the high prices but instead, they'll probably get the Manny's/Oceanaire clientele and be okay, at least for a few years.

                            1. re: katebauer

                              esp if you could eat the offerings of local farms, prepared by local chefs at an indie rest! i've got absolutely no prob handing alma or lucias or brenda's or 112 or heartland or vincent $150-200 for a really super nice dinner for 2 out-- i consider it to be an investment in keeping these restaurants around & part of our local food culture, and maybe i'm a MN cheapskate for saying it, but this chain sounds like another overpriced corporate leech that's supported by the convention crowd rather than the MSP diners. it ticks me off that one of our local faves may follow auriga in closing down because fogo is getting the expense-account diners who couldn't care less.

                            2. re: MIKELOCK34

                              You don't think $50 is expensive? I envy you. :)

                              It would be sad to see Fogo, a chain, to succeed with a concept that Mojito, a locally owned endeavor, failed at. It's too bad that money can't be kept in community. Mojito wasn't in the best locations, for what it was.

                              I still have my doubts about Fogo, but who knows how it will do.

                              1. re: pgokey

                                It is not in the best of locations in that Copeland's failed there as did other restaurants on that block.

                                1. re: Davydd

                                  Yeah, that's true. Some suburbanites really don't like heading into downtown much. On the other hand, Palomino and Solera, just a couple of blocks down, are doing just fine. I think Bellanote is also doing OK, too, as is Ruth's Chris, Oceanaire, Murray's, Manny's, etc. I think the places that have failed downtown have all been chains that have had locations elsewhere in the cities. I don't know if there were other locations of Copeland's in the cities, but Copeland's concept wasn't very unique. Of course Olive Garden was going to fail down there - who was going to go downtown to Olive Garden when there was a million of them in the 'burbs. (Better question is - who is going to go to The Olive Garden, ever?)

                                  The problem with Excelsior Boulevard is that there was no other attractions surrounding Mojito - it was isolated. People wanting a night out simple don't head to that area. Fogo at least has a better location.

                                  My ultimate preference would have been for Mojito to have relocated. Instead, we get a chain restaurant opening up to replace it.

                                2. re: pgokey

                                  Fifty dollars per person is very reasonable for dinner at FDC. We dine out in quite a few places while traveling, but even casual dining is very expensive per person if you think about it. Regarding chains versus local restaurants, you may want to look into the ownership of some of the other restaurants mentioned in this thread as they are chains too. In regards to chefs using local ingredients, using local ingredients does not necessarily equate to good food as an end product. Casual dining chains use local products too.

                                  1. re: MIKELOCK34

                                    True - even though Chipotle says they use Minnesota chicken, I don't want to eat there. I'd like to believe that I'm pretty aware which MSP restaurants are national chains, local chains, etc. For example, I'm quite aware that Oceanaire is a chain. However, Alma, Lucia's, 112 and others are definitely non-chain restaurants dedicated to using local ingredients and they do it spectacularly.

                                    As far as the price, we weren't saying that $50 was a rip off, only that many people do not spend $50 for dinner, excluding drinks, multiple times a week. Eating out while traveling for business is a different story.

                                    1. re: MIKELOCK34

                                      "In regards to chefs using local ingredients, using local ingredients does not necessarily equate to good food as an end product."

                                      You are totally correct, however I think the debate is not about the consistancy of the product, but rather the commitment of the owner and chef to his or her community rather than the group/franchiser. There are plenty of terrible restaurants in town owned locally with food sourced from food service conglomerates burning 20 gallons of gas to bring pale flavorless tomatoes to Minnesota in January. I guess I just figure we don;t really need more of that AND have the money leave the local economy.

                                      And unless you are talking about water, sickly eggs and spam, I would debate your assertion that "Casual dining chains use local products too." ;)

                                      1. re: MIKELOCK34

                                        Agreed.

                                        The posters most likely to complain about not using "local ingredients" are the ones you will find extolling the virtues of Costco and Trader Joe's which generally source only from the coasts.

                                  2. hey had anyone tried the family-run ecuadorian grill on east franklin? the one that used to be big olafs?

                                    10 Replies
                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                      Do you mean El Gaucho? Argentinian? MariQ reported on it a while back.

                                      Here's the thread:
                                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/12459...

                                      There's an Ecuadorian place, but it's on Lake Street closer to Uptown.

                                      1. re: KTFoley

                                        The helpful MariQ revisited El Gaucho, after it had been up and running for a while, and posted a second review:

                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/124669

                                        Me, I haven't been to El Gaucho for a long time, due to some cholesterol issues. But I liked it a lot, especially the sweetbreads on the mixed grill dinner. But the salad and sides aren't much to write home about - at least they weren't a year ago.

                                        El Gaucho is much more my type of place that Fogo de Chao. I'm not much on monster all-you-can-eat dinners - I prefer good food in small portions (probably because I fill up quickly).

                                        Anne

                                        1. re: AnneInMpls

                                          You can eat good food in small portions at Fogo De Chao too. One steak at a steak restaurant can cost from ten dollars to over six hundred dollars or more for one steak. Between the salad bar, meat and sides at Fogo de Chao, you can easily get your money's worth even eating small portions. The little cheese breads are really good too. They change your bread approximately every three minutes or so at the others where we have eaten. The service has always been wonderful for us too.

                                          1. re: MIKELOCK34

                                            This is a valid point, but I'm a cheapskate, too. My idea of a splurge is $7 for a banh mi sandwich AND papaya salad in the same meal. And I don't really like steak, so I'm not used to paying steakhouse prices for dinner.

                                            Clearly, I'm not the target market for a Fogo de Chao - although the salad-bar-only meal does sound kinda interesting.

                                            Anne

                                            1. re: AnneInMpls

                                              Yes, the salad bar only is very much worth the cost. They use two types of smoked salmon on the salad bar, one I really enjoy, the other I enjoy less so, but the asparagus, real Parmegiano Regiano, heart of palm, greens, other cheeses, fresh broccoli and all of the other products offered are very good. The cheese breads come to the table with the salad bar option too. Great stuff.

                                          2. re: AnneInMpls

                                            I'm happy to find reviews of El Gaucho. I just drove by there today and thought we should head there in order to support a local place. And although it's not AYCE, the entree prices are about 1/4 of FDC.

                                            1. re: katebauer

                                              I solo dined at El Gaucho about 2 months ago.

                                              It's definitely got a local feel - small, quaint tables and booths and both TVs in the room were tuned to a Caribbean baseball game and soccer. Overall, I enjoyed my experience; the waitress was very pleasant and I loved their salad and bread and the papas fritas were delicious! The wine really wasn't up to par (perhaps I just chose poorly) and the steak, well, the steak was monstrous but just tasted a bit off. Like it had been exposed to a bad case of freezer burn (since they import their meat from Argentina and Uruguay, I'm sure it must've have been frozen for most of its journey). That being said, I'd recommend the restaurant to anyone in a heartbeat and I think everyone should give it a go.

                                              I lived in Southern Brasil for a year and was hoping for a bit more gaucho/churrascaria style cuisine...but maybe that's what I'll get at FDC. Can't wait!!

                                              Also, MIKELOCK34, if you're really into the cheese breads at FDC (called "pao de queijo), the latin am. market at Midtown Global Market sells the mix to make them yourself. It's made by Yoki. They also sell Guarana, which is the yummiest soft drink ever!!

                                              1. re: martaru

                                                Just saw your note about the guarana. They usually charge $3.50 each for them, but I love them too.

                                          3. re: KTFoley

                                            thanks KTFoley, Anne and MariQ. i was confused about country-of-origin on the place but have been thinking about checking it out sometime when i'm eating meat again.

                                          4. re: soupkitten

                                            We totally HEART the El Gaucho! My husbandUnit calls it the BEST steak he's had in a while. Service is enthusiastic but unpolished. Vegetarian entrees are limited, but that's to be expected when your main export is beef . . .

                                          5. We dined here last night and really enjoyed it. The staff was very attentive and even went out of their way to find servers with your meat choice, not something I’ve experienced at their other locations. Our waiter said they opened Tuesday with ~350 guests and expected Sat was going to finish at ~750. He said the restaurant could sustain itself if they could consistently get ~750 every Saturday.

                                            On the subject of this being a special occasion destination – I was surprised to see what appeared to be the majority of guests were dressed in jeans, IMHO indicating they were not out for a special occasion. Or perhaps it’s a Minnesota thing that people don’t dress up for a special occasion?

                                            On the subject of will the suburbanites come to this location? It was only $6.00 for valet parking.

                                            Many queried price, we paid approximately $150 for two including coffee, one desert and a reasonable bottle of wine. I could do this much cheaper if at an Italian restaurant in Chicago but for steak, I would say in line with the competition.

                                            8 Replies
                                            1. re: Musky_Hunter

                                              Wow, 750? That seems incredibly high to me but I know nothing about table turn over and things. Do people know how many other popular restaurants bring in on a Saturday? I would guess Manny's can fit 100 at a time, and turn over 4 or so times over the night? Again, just a total guess.

                                              As far as valet parking, I could be wrong but I don't think most people like to pay for it. There are so many downtown ramps I'd rather just park my own car. Maybe others feel differently though.

                                              $150 is pretty similar to an evening at Manny's or Oceannaire, maybe a little less than La Belle Vie.

                                              1. re: katebauer

                                                well it's the old nankin space, so it's huge-- including the balcony and bar it used to have something like 250-300 seats in there. . . i think the buildout of this place puts the much-touted salad bar in the center (FDC will lose table seats on this) otoh i'd be shocked if they kept the massive kitchen, which used to stretch the entire length of the place (& which they don't need) so they'd get some space back if they shrank the kitchen. . .

                                                saw FDC on the news the other night, don't know when the footage was taken but the place looked pretty empty, and er, i only saw one female patron, and no female staff members? also didn't see anybody in a "costume" *snicker*

                                                i'll be spending my $150 at alma or vincent, etc.

                                              2. re: Musky_Hunter

                                                My comment about surbanites was more general - in general, lots of people from the 'burbs don't like going downtown. I work in the 'burbs and live in Uptown, and most of my co-workers live in the 'burbs. They cringe when I recommend downtown and Uptown restaurants or specialty markets. But there are of course many suburbanites who appreciate good food who do make the trek - people who post here, of course. Valet parking is a smart move for FDC, and $6 is a great price. As far as this place being a special occasion place and you seeing people in jeans - it just opened. For the first couple of months, there will be lots of people going there to check it out for the first time. They were willing to pay lots to check out the new concept, but will they be people who can or will fork out that amount of money on a regular basis for dinner, or just on special occasions? There are a couple of people here who seem to think $150 for dinner for two isn't that bad, but I can't imagine paying that for anything other than a rare special occasion. That's really expensive to me. I think the average Joe in Minneapolis is probably in a similar boat, but time will tell. What's different for FDC than other restaurants is that all of their covers are the same price - no one who dines there can order a less expensive meal. If someone wants to eat more cheaply at 112 Eatery, for example, they can. I'll put a lot more money on 112 Eatery surviving a lot longer because of it, simple because they'll turn more covers on any given night in any type of economy.

                                                1. re: pgokey

                                                  The salad bar works out as a less expensive meal that includes a large number of options. We have taken people there who have been very pleased with taking that option.

                                                  1. re: MIKELOCK34

                                                    That will help a little bit. The write up in the Downtown Journal painted a very different picture - they said there was a 34 second gap between seating and eating because there was only one menu option, the feast. Still, the options are a salad bar and a $50 meat feast. It narrows down who'll go a quite a bit.

                                                    1. re: pgokey

                                                      You control when you are served by using the cards on the table. You may sit there for an hour before you choose to be served if you would like to.

                                                2. re: Musky_Hunter

                                                  We always see people in jeans at the other Fogo de Chao's too. It is definitely not a special occasion only place, it is just a restaurant. I have eaten at Churrascarias in Brazil in shorts with dogs walking around the table. Just a style of dining from another culture. Try the papaya cream when you go for dessert and guarana for a softdrink if you have never tried it before.

                                                  1. re: MIKELOCK34

                                                    OK, I work downtown so I had to go check out the Fogo salad bar. It did look gorgeous and I was told it is $16.50 for lunch $20 for dinner. That would definitely be
                                                    worth my while since superior salad bars are so rare and they are something I crave.
                                                    A very warm friendly woman hostess showed me around , since I asked just to see the buffet. She explained what everything was. I have never ever been to a salad bar
                                                    that had Parmigiano Reggiano or the beautiful asparagus spears, smoked salmon etc
                                                    along with lovely greens and other salads and cheeses that I saw here. The room is
                                                    lovely also, very spacious. I easily drop $20-$30 at places like 112 etc and I don't even drink wine. It does seem a little weird to have this place devoted to a kind of
                                                    gluttony. But something about the Brazilian culture seems like it's different from the
                                                    American pigout. Like they see it as a social pleasurable thing to relax and enjoy lots
                                                    of wonderful food, somehow less crude and rude than what you might think. I'll report
                                                    back after trying out the buffet.

                                                3. We went last night for dinner. The service is still being developed compared to other locations where we have dined. The salad bar is a little different. The sauce for the smoked salmon was not included on the salad bar. Two of the meats were seasoned differently than the other locations we have tried. The only disappointment was the Papaya Cream. That is usually an excellent dessert, but we ordered three of them and they were terrible. The were warm, mushy, spongy and had absolutely no taste whatever. Overall good experience though.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: MIKELOCK34

                                                    I finally went. I have a friend who I take turns with buying dinner. It was his turn, and his choice. I was glad for the chance to try the place out, since I wasn't sure I'd go on my own.

                                                    I have Mojito and a place in Salt Lake City for reference points. The sides weren't that impressive. I like the cheesy muffin, but wish they had been warm. The polenta wasn't seasoned much, and possibly undercooked. The potatoes were boring.

                                                    The salad bar had some pleasing things on it. I thought their presentation for the parmesan was fun - serving it out of the wheel. The endive caught me by surprise.

                                                    The array of meats was exactly as I expected. The pork and chicken was a little dry, but I liked the parmesan crusted pork loin. I enjoyed having lamb - I liked it but usually never order it.

                                                    The serve wasn't the best. The rotating waiter thing isn't my favorite. The waiter we dealt with most often was a bit cheeky with us. I felt they pushed a wine choice on us rather hard. They also did almost a hard sell on dessert, which we resisted. They kept taking away side trays with food still on them, and replacing them with full trays. The wastefulness of that irritated me. I sort of like having a full tray of sides, but the way they did it was wasteful. A couple of times they tried to give us clean plates (which I appreciated) but when we were still eating food on the old one. It created a rushed feeling.

                                                    I liked that they specifically asked us several times if there was a specific meat we wanted - any special requests. The first time they asked, we had yet to try the pork, so it was really appreciated.

                                                    So I did it. The service was lacking. Some of the food wasn't quite up to snuff. But I was pleased that it was only $38.50. I think it's a reasonable deal for all you get. The inclusion of the salad bar makes the price worth it.

                                                    That said, I probably won't go back unless it's on someone else's dime or for someone else's special occasion. I would rather go someplace less ostentatious and order a specific entree, and focus on it. It's a glorified buffet, really.

                                                  2. I went to Fogo de Chao / Minneapolis shortly after its opening, and wrote a 1,400-word summary for a local collective blog. I'll spare you the depth of detail I dropped on that post, but a few observations.

                                                    1. It is, in fact, wicked expensive.

                                                    2. For that kind of price, you expect a really good salad bar, good side dishes, and stellar desserts. Fogo had all three.

                                                    3. The guys who cook your meat then come and serve it. There's something very nice about this level of accountability.

                                                    4. Pace yourself, and beware of meat hangovers.

                                                    5. I had a very nice dining experience (the meat ranged in quality from "OK" to "splendid") but I wouldn't go again unless on an expense account or otherwise being treated. You can get more interesting flavors for less cash in the Twin Cities area. But I would recommend that anyone who hasn't tried a churrascaria try this one; I ate at places like this in Cambridge, Mass. a few times, and Fogo is the Rolls Royce version of the concept.

                                                    (the original post: http://minneapolis.metblogs.com/archi...)