Fogo de Chao on Santana Row: great for family brunch, date night, or weekday lunch

Brazilian brunch service started a couple months ago at Fogo. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Brazilian brunch service started in May at Fogo de Chao. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

A couple weeks ago, I decided to try out Fogo de Chão on Santana Row with my family. From the moment we walked in, the service was impeccable. To me, having attentive staff greet you upon arrival is the signal of a good experience to come – and Fogo did not disappoint. Even the assistant manager, Yuri Teixeira, stopped by twice to make sure we had everything we needed.

After one staff member greeted us and immediately showed us to our table, another Fogo team member asked if it was our first time dining there (it was), in which case he would provide us with a little guidance. We were eager to try the new Brazilian Brunch which launched at all Fogo locations nationwide in May. Many locations only offer this brunch on Sundays, but Santana Row is one of nine restaurants that offer it on Saturdays too.

As our waiter explained, the Brazilian Brunch includes both the “full Churrasco experience” and the Market Table. Churrasco basically means you better come hungry! Anytime you want to eat some of Fogo’s fire-roasted meats, you flip a card on your table to the green side (green means go) and a chef will arrive and carve meat for you tableside. When you want to take a break, either to enjoy some of the other selections or to just pause from eating, you flip the card to show red. Each diner has their own card, and the chefs and other staff are continuously and carefully scanning the room—during our brunch, we never had to wait more than a minute after flipping a card before a chef was asking if we wanted what he was serving, whether that was a house specialty like picanha (signature sirloin sliced very thin), filet mignon, ribeye, cordeiro (lamb) or something else like Parmesan pork, chicken drumstick or breast, linguica sausage. The restaurant has 16 meats total.

 

Very soon after we sat down, waitstaff also brought over the Brazilian side dishes that are included with brunch. These included pão de queijo (warm cheese bread, which is gluten-free), mashed potatoes and fried polenta and caramelized bananas. It was hard to stop eating the scrumptious polenta, but I knew I wanted to save room for lots of other offerings.

 

The Market Table & Feijoada Bar is a self-serve area with salads, vegetables, feijoada (black bean stew with sausage and other toppings) and an egg bake with asparagus, broccoli, peppadew peppers, Swiss cheese, and the aforementioned gluten-free cheese bread. Other selections included a parfait with Greek yogurt, granola and berries. Some of my favorites were hearts of palm, asparagus, fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese, marinated artichoke bottoms and an edamame/corn salad. My five-year-old daughter loved the olives and the giant Parmesan wheel that held an abundance of bite-sized cheese pieces.

 

When we commented to one of the waitstaff how great all the meats were, he explained that that the sea salt they use really brings out the flavors. I did some more research in the last few days and discovered that many of the meats they serve are seasoned only with sea salt; the fact that they taste so good is a testament to the meat’s top quality.

 

Our host asked which selections were our favorites and it was hard to choose (later, I counted how many we tried: my husband tasted nine, I tried eight and my daughter sampled small portions of five varieties). Mine was probably the garlic steak. The pork chop with Cajun seasoning was pretty darn good too. My husband’s was the Parmesan pork. My daughter enjoyed all the ones she tasted; she wouldn’t pick a favorite when I asked. I know she thoroughly enjoyed the linguica sausage, among others.

 

Believe it or not, after all this we couldn’t resist trying dessert. My daughter and I shared—and devoured—molten chocolate cake that was served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Delicious!

 

For weekend brunch in San Jose, adults cost $45.95 for the “full experience” or $26.95 for market table only. Drinks and dessert are extra. Kids 6 and under are free, and ages 7-12 are half price.

 

The restaurant’s atmosphere and the Santana Row location (a nearby movie theater and shopping) make Fogo a great pick for date night. Obviously I recommend it for weekend brunch with the family, and I also noticed that they offer a weekday lunch that starts at only $15. That gets you the Market Table & Feijoada Bar, but you can add a grilled meat selection for between $6-$9; other options include sea bass a la carte ($27.95) or the full experience ($36.95).

 

For more prices or specific information on Fogo’s San Jose location, see the Santana Row Fogo web site. To learn more about Fogo in general or other locations including San Francisco, visit the main site.

 

Want to learn more about Brazil and its cuisine? Fogo just launched an online guide that includes drink recipes (such as a passion fruit caipirinha, a twist on the national cocktail), food recipes, and etiquette and language tips.

 

Fogo de Chão on Santana Row location & hours:

377 Santana Row #1090 (corner of Olsen) (408) 244-7001

Saturday/Sunday brunch 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.

Sat dinner 3-10:30 p.m. Sun dinner 4-9 p.m.

Mon–Fri lunch 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.

Mon-Thurs dinner 5-10 p.m.

Fri dinner 5-10:30 p.m.

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