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Bringing Brazil to the Heart of Bellevue

October 16, 2020 - by Mason Luvera

Bringing Brazil to the Heart of Bellevue

If there’s one thing we’re certain of, it’s that there is no shortage of amazing places to dine in the Heart of Bellevue. From an afternoon libation to a celebratory dinner, we’re home to an array of spots perfect for lunch, dinner, drinks – the list goes on. Fogo de Chao may be known mostly as a destination for a nice dinner out, and that it is! But with their killer happy hour and fantastic lunch offerings, it’s a hidden gem for any occasion – with a unique Brazilian twist.

We stopped by to scope out the full experience for ourselves over a meal with Fogo de Chao’s Anna Wallace and Daniel Villoria Siegert. From delectable small plates to a sizzling wagu steak, they explained the inspiration behind their menu and the restaurant’s commitment to the community – which we took in with every delicious bite.

Like any good meal out, a cocktail is recommended to kick things off at Fogo. Given their Brazilian inspiration, the classic Caipirinha is one of their most popular choices – this concoction of aromatic cachaça and tart lime creates a refreshing beverage to sip. In the mood for wine? You’re in luck – Fogo de Chao’s wine list is hand picked, with incredible varietals from across the world, including their own signature blend. Siegert explained that Fogo’s signature blends are created just for the restaurant, with each drawing on the establishment’s history. One of his personal favorites is named after a longtime Fogo de Chao employee.

“There really is a story behind the wine that represents the love that goes into it,” Siegert said.

Fogo’s drink menu is also showcased by what must be one of the best happy hours in town. With bites at $4, wines at $6 and cocktails at $8 – you’ll be hard pressed not to sample your way through the menu. And you’ll have plenty of opportunity to do so – happy hour runs all day. Just make sure you leave room for dinner.

Being a Brazilian steakhouse, perfectly grilled meats take the spotlight through Fogo’s signature churrasco dinner experience. Instead of ordering one entrée with paired sides, at Fogo guests are served by continuous tableside service offering unlimited fire-roasted meats. From filet mignon to lamb chops, you can sample as many different cuts as you like. The churrasco experience is complimented by Fogo’s market table: a large spread of side dishes, accoutrements and appetizers – all included. This unique dining experience has helped Fogo form a reputation as a place to go for things you love while also trying something new. 

“I mean, where else can you try filet, sirloin, bacon-wrapped chicken and lamb, and have it brought to you fresh,” Wallace said.

Fogo is definitely a meat lovers paradise. Wallace’s recommendations for must-try dishes include their seasoned lamb chops, traditional beef empinadas with chimichurri, and for the total experience: a wagu steak served tableside on a sizzling salt block. 

“It literally melts in your mouth,” Wallace said.

Going beyond meat, Fogo’s traditional cheesebread and jumbo shrimp cocktail – served warm with seared vegetables – shouldn’t be underestimated. Wallace explained that while meat takes the attention, Fogo’s chef’s whip out great seafood, vegetarian and vegan options too. The focus on variety and choice also makes the restaurant an idea place for anyone with specific dietary needs or preferences.

“Many guests following a gluten free, low-carb or keto lifestyle tell us they love coming in for that reason,” Wallace said. “You can build your own experience.”

The “experience” at Fogo is a large part of the restaurant's draw. The endless tableside service and the expansive market table in the middle of the restaurant creates an interactive element for guests. When the pandemic hit, Fogo de Chao got to work implementing changes to protect guests and staff while still delivering a top-notch experience. In addition to social distancing and enhanced cleaning, service staff now deliver the entire dining experience tableside, including the previously self-served market table, and have created new takeout options and promotions. Wallace and Siegert both credit Fogo de Chao’s Bellevue staff as being critical to keeping their signature experience alive while keeping customers safe.  

Fogo de Chao’s creativity during the pandemic also extends beyond the dining room. While Fogo de Chao has locations across the world, the team here in Bellevue have worked to support their neighbors and non-profit organizations, including meal donations and delivery. 

“We recently started working with the YMCA to donate meals to their volunteers who are working especially hard right now to fill the gaps that schools normally provide,” Wallace said. “We just delivered meals to their Bellevue facility on Wednesday.”

This community spirit comes back to the inspiration behind everything at Fogo de Chao: treat guests like family and wow them with an experience. The team at Fogo is excited to welcome folks back Downtown – whether for a quick drink (remember, that happy hour is amazing) or for a big dinner. Either way, we can’t recommend that you go enough!

PS: Fogo Bellevue is offering great promotions as a welcome back. Don’t miss happy hour all day, 50% off wines under $100, and a sweet deal for anyone planning a special event: book a December gathering by Oct. 31 and receive two free items, including $25 gift cards for your party and a free appetizer… sign us up!

This blog is part of the Heart of Bellevue: our campaign to showcase local businesses while connecting you with stories of activity, creativity and recovery. Find out about our campaign and explore more of what’s happening around Downtown.