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Fogo De Chow vs. Estancia Churrascaria

I realize FDC is more expensive, and a chain (both negatives in my book), but I'd love to hear from someone who's been to both and can give a comparision - quality vs. cost.

I understand FDC is $38.50, whereas, it's only $25.00 for Entoncia. Is FDC worth the extra moo-la? I'd rather eat locally, but if the meat is dry and tastless or too salty (which I've heard more than a few times) I'd like to make the informed decision.

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  1. I've been to Fogo de Chao (in Houston) and enjoyed it immensely. This is a place you could even (reluctantly) take a vegetarian, as there is a fabulous salad bar and the caipirinhas are excellent. Yes, the price is a bit steep, but you have to look at it as a high-end, all-you-can-eat sort of thing, I suppose. You'd pay a lot more per person at many other places to get the same type of meal, and you can sample any meat you want. Service was excellent. I'd go again any time. I have not visited Estancia, but judging from their web site it is very similar. Perhaps I will check it out next time I am there. Never heard of Entoncia.

    1. I have been to both, Fogo de Chão in Dallas several times and Estancia only once.

      My comparison may not be fair because I went to Estancia when it was only a few weeks old.

      With that said, I love Fogo de Chão and feel a great deal of excitement and anticipation when we are planning to go. I allowed myself to feel the same way when we went to Estancia and was sorely disappointed. Specifically, the meats were not nearly as tasty or tender and the salad bar was much less elaborate and didn’t seem so fresh to me. Also, the service was hurried and amateurish.

      To me (at that time) it would be like comparing a visit to Ruths Chris with a stop at the Sizzler.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Rene

        The cost for Fogo de Chao's dinner is $38.50, but I believe the cost for Estancia is more like $29.00 (or it was the last time I went two months ago--I know that the price has gone up several times, so it might have come down as well). I have been to both, and I believe that Fogo de Chao is a better deal even though it is more expensive. The space is much brighter and airier, and the service is just as quick without seeming harried, as it does at Estancia. I find the meats to be quite good at both places, but particular cuts are superior at FDC. In particular, the filet (with or without bacon) is much more tender at FDC, truly almost like butter. I find the picanha is also better at FDC, with a better seasoning, and with a deliciously charred fat layer. The only meat I found better at Estancia was the garlic beef, because FDC's version was not entirely crisped on the outside, so the meat was covered with soft wet minced garlic. I imagine that they will be able to correct this, though...they HAVE only been open for five days so far. As far as the salad bar is concerned, FDC has Estancia beat hands down, both in quality of ingredients and in selection--the salad bar is EXACTLY the same as I have seen at other FDC locations, with delicious sliced cheese, smoked salmon, artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, beets, tender asparagus spears, and those amazing small sweet-hot red peppers that I don't know the name of (they are delicious!) They also have very nice greens and mixed salads similar to Waldorf salad and chicken salad. As for the sides, I was quite happy with the bananas at both FDC and Estancia, but the potatoes were much better at FDC (the ones at Estancia were starchy and gluey, as if they had been put through a food processor). The one big disappointment I had at FDC was that they do not have fried yucca. Instead, they offer fried polenta, which they slice and treat the same way as the yucca (cut into small planks and lightly fried, and then topped with a bit of crumbled white cheese). I asked if they would offer yucca after they are more established, and the waiter told me they did not have plans to offer it in the future because they don't have access to a steady supply, although they do serve it in Houston. They will continue to offer the polenta. It is not a major thing--I usually only eat one or maybe two pieces of the yucca--but it is a special treat that I missed.

        For what it's worth, I went there tonight for my companion's birthday, and he said that he thought the meat at this FDC location was even better than the meat at the other FDC locations he has been to. Not bad for their first week.

        1. re: angusb

          Wow. Great comparison. You've made up my mind. We're off to FDC

      2. Just visited Fogo for lunch on Monday. There were more people there than I thought there would be. I guess off the reputation of Dallas and Houston. As usual, the service was outstanding. I noticed a tiny speck of food that had landed in my water, probably from one of the carvers. The waiter picked up my cup to fill it up, looked inside, filled it up with water and a minute later replaced the entire cup. I didn't even notice that my cup was replaced until I started looking for the speck of food. The waiters must go through months of training! In contrast, the service at Estancia was not as good. The waiters seemed hurried and even when your card is flipped red, they will stop at your table. They also have a new cut at Fogo. I haven't been in a while, so it might not be new, new. Rib eye. I liked it. I'm not a big beef eater at all. However, I love Fogo and it was always a treat when going up to Dallas. I'm glad they have one in Austin, now. I'm not sure if I'm just biased towards Fogo or what, but I don't believe you can compare Estancia to Fogo. The meat just didn't taste as good or as well flavored. Spend the extra $13 and go to Fogo, or better yet, go at lunch, same food, and it's $24.50.

        1 Reply
        1. re: chowin

          I agree...Fogo is better all around. I love the one in Houston. Go to FDC for lunch and take advantage of the lower price.
          The salad bar is pretty nice and the service is very attentive. You will enjoy the experience.

        2. Does FDC have a price for just the salad bar?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Royale

            The salad bar is $18.50, I think, maybe $19.00. It is the same price for lunch and dinner.

          2. FWIW, went to Estancia last night, my first visit to such an establishment, and my BW's second, having been once to FDC. First, it cost around 34 bucks and now FDC is around 45 bucks. The caipirinha at EC cost around $8 and, I am told, the one at FDC isi now around 9.50, top shelf around 13. ( I love those drinks though and plan to make it my number one company drink at my house). We felt that the service was very good, if not a tad bothersome with someone always appearing at your table to ask if you wanted something. (Of course, turning your card to green helps cut down on the traffic). We were replenished with sides without asking. I , and the BW, felt that the meat was lacking somewhat in flavor and also tended to be rather dry. The pork ribs were not worth eating. The lamb was somewhat strong. In general, the BW believes that overall the quality of food was better at FDC, but of course the price is more. All in all, we and the couple we were with enjoyed ourselves, partly due to the novelty of it all, and partly because the salad bar was interesting, though rather small. My 2. Thank you for your attention. J.

            5 Replies
            1. re: singlemalt

              Actually, I had the opposite reaction after trying them both - I prefer Estancia. I think it depends on what your interests are when going. The salad bar at FDC was bigger but I wouldn't necessarily say it was better. FDC had a couple of specialty items on it like smoked salmon, and other things too heavy to eat what with the impending onslaught of carnage, so non-meat eaters would definitely fare better there. But at Estancia, I found the salad bar items more complementary to the food. For example, there was a great chimichurri sauce that I loved with the meat - not there at FDC - at least during my visit. I thought the meat selection was comparable, and the leg of lamb was my favorite by far when I went to Estancia. This was almost a year ago though, so I hope the quality has not deteriorated based on your review, singlemalt. I should go again now that I've been to FDC.

              1. re: Allison L.

                How are the desserts at FDC? Pretty sure my night would include salad bar and dessert since massive amount of meat just ain't my thing.


                1. re: Trojanbabe

                  Can't help you there - after all that meat, I couldn't even eat a "wafer-thin" mint.

                  1. re: Trojanbabe

                    They have delicious dessert called Papaya Cream. It is papaya blended with ice cream served in what looks like a giant brandy snifter. They offer to top it off with a blackberry currant liqueur which in my opinion, makes the dessert.

                    This is a great dessert to follow dinner because papaya has a natural enzyme called papain that helps to break down meat. Papain is actually used in some meat tenderizers for this very reason.

                    After trying this dessert, I've never even considered looking at the dessert menu to see what else they have. I do know that they also have creme brulee, a strawberry cream (prepared just like the papaya cream), and I'm almost certain they have flan.

                    FDC is one of my favorite restaurants, and until the papaya cream, I never thought I could even look at dessert. Now this is what I order everytime I visit.

                  2. re: Allison L.

                    I agree. I much prefer this LOCAL place based on quality, service, ingredients and the local flair.
                    Why pay more for a chain when you can support local for less?