Library of Meat: Dude Food Goes Churrasco

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Fogo de Chao
4300 Belt Line Road

Dude Factor: 9, or Seu Jorge, on a scale of 1 (Anderson Varejao) to 10 (Pele).

Last week we celebrated -- or more accurately, mourned -- our 30th birthday. And because she's such a sweetie, the old ball-and-chain decided to take us out for a fancy dinner. After consulting with a couple meat-lovin' amigos, we decided to embark on the Brazilian churrascaria experience that had somehow evaded us for 30 years, driving all the way up to Addison in a cold, pouring rain -- a great omen for our thirties, by the way -- to visit Fogo de Chao.

In case you've never been, the Fogo de Chao experience goes a little something like this: sit down, order drinks, visit a fancy country-club style salad bar and then flip your table's coaster over to green, at which point a bunch of "gauchos" in funny pants come running your way with skewers of delicious, delicious meat.

Decor-wise, Fogo de Chao was pretty interesting, if by "interesting" you mean "totally boring," which is usually what we really mean when we call something "interesting." Sure, the ribs roasting over the big fire in front were a nice touch, but once we got inside it felt like eating in a law library, which is probably why there were so many many fellas in there rocking the khakis.

The salad bar was probably the best we've ever encountered, though, thanks largely to a large selection of things that aren't salad, like bacon, cheeses, prosciutto and several tasty breads. Everything we sampled was pretty good save for what we thought was a big, chilled piece of mozzarella but turned out to be a heart-of-palm. That was the worst cheese stick we've ever had, hands down.

After dispensing with the appetizer portion of the evening, we took a deep breath, paused to collect our thoughts and flipped over our meat-card, at which point the gauchos arrived as promised, with both meats and an assortment of tasty sides, including fried plantains, fried polenta and some bite-sized, cheese-stuffed rolls that we put away by the handful.

Having devised a strategy beforehand, we decided to slowly nibble samples of every cut, saving room for seconds of the good stuff. We didn't waste our time with the chicken, but the little pork sausages, or linguica, were totally boss. Normally, one might think the filet mignon would best the other cuts easily, but at Fogo de Chao it was the top sirloin that suited our fancy -- the two house specialties made with the cut, Picanha and Alcatra, were beyond tender and perfectly seasoned, with a heavy, flame-kissed flavor of smoke.

All in all, we both felt like we got our $48.50's worth and then some, especially considering they comped us a free birthday dessert. Here's a tip dudes: If you make reservations on-line, you can click a button to say it's your birthday or anniversary and probably score a free dessert every time. They never checked my ID or anything. Sure, the business bros in the khakis might think you're tacky for it, but whatever. It's not like they can yell at you -- you're in a library. 

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