Pittsburgh Must: Fogo de Chao

I was invited to a media opening night of Fogo de Chao Pittsburgh in exchange for sharing my experience. All opinions are 100% my own. 

Fogo de Chao Pittsburgh

Fogo de Chao Pittsburgh

Is there a better date night location for Greg and I than a Brazilian Steakhouse? The answer is nope. When I told him that I’d be treating him to dinner at an all-you-can-eat meat restaurant in the heart of downtown Pittsburgh, he was all in.

Opening on Monday, April 23 at the Luminere building (Oliver and Smithfield Streets, Pittsburgh), Fogo de Chao Pittsburgh is going to attract many couples for date nights, families for celebrations, and groups for events. Fogo de Chao is a chain Brazilian steakhouse, but if I didn’t tell you that, you probably wouldn’t realize it when you first step into the building.

The Bar Experience

We actually arrived on time to an event, early even, which was perfect because it gave us a chance to enjoy the front of house bar. While I’m on a Keto lifestyle (hence my excitement for a night of meat), I couldn’t indulge in the custom cocktails even though I really wanted to give them a try.

Instead, I opted for a delicious red wine while Greg went for the Carmelized Pineapple Old Fashioned. I watched on as a bartender carmelized the pineapples and tried not to think about how amazing they’d be with the cane sugar.

There is a Happy Hour at the bar Monday to Friday from 4:30pm-6:30pm with Brazilian Bites and Beers, wines, and Brazilian inspired cocktails like the one Greg enjoyed.

The Service

Before I dive in to tell you about the food, I have to stop and tell you about the service. It was so good, we had to ask the Manager over to thank him for the experience. From the host station to the bartenders, to the wait staff and Gauchos, not one person disappointed us. They worked together as a team like magic.

I’ll let Greg describe it to you – “The operation is pretty fluid, seamless. Seems like the staff is operating in a hive mind fashion. So much going on at once but they impressively keep it together.”

Incredible. We’ve been to Brazilian steakhouses two other times (in Aruba and Myrtle Beach) but never felt this connected to the team that was there to make us happy at Fogo de Chao Pittsburgh. Once I told a gaucho how I liked my meat, they remembered. The gaucho with lamb knew not to ask me if I wanted it again after I told him I didn’t prefer the taste of lamb and would not like to try it – but he did remember to continue to visit Greg with the cuts of lamb. And another realized how much I loved the top sirloin and just kept bringing it on repeat. Amazing.

The Food

Dinner starts at the Market Table, a selection of fruits, veggies, salad, soup, and some cold cut meats and cheeses. It is modeled after the feasts that villages would have at harvest time, each family bringing to the table what they had grown and were proud of. I was particularly drawn to the different hot peppers and (no surprise) chorizo cuts. Bonus? EVERYTHING on the Market Table is gluten-free. 

Back at the table, a basket of rolls has arrived. Greg noted that they were light and fluffy – a little thicker than a croissant – but not so thick that you might fill up if you had one before the meat. He cautions you to take it easy on the Market Table and rolls and/or don’t eat all day before. Because when you turn your token green…

bring on the meats. (via Churrasco style service)

And by meats I mean 17 glorious cuts of beef, pork, chicken, and lamb. (There are seafood options, but we didn’t experience those in our preview.)  The Gauchos are quite vested in you enjoying it – and no surprise, as they are selecting it and part of the cooking process. They bring the rack of meat to the table and cut your choice of done-ness right in front of you.

Try not to be too anxious to use your tongs to grab the meat off and chow down while they are still there – I dare you. Or if you do, they’ll know how much you love it. (Someone might have had to be reminded to calm down her yinzer, we were on a fancy date, you know. That didn’t stop me from throwing up big praise hands more than once when I ate a cut of meat that I thoroughly enjoyed. No shame.)

This bacon wrapped chicken was worth waiting for! Our gaucho special made it for me!

The table also receives sharing sides – garlic mashed potatoes, polenta, and fried plantains. I can’t tell you how they were, but Greg made sure not a crumb was left behind. Two dipping sauces (one chimichurri, the other a delicious mystery to me) are also given.

When you are ready to “tap out” and have the meat take a break from coming to the table, turn the token red and the Gauchos will know you’re done (even if just “for now”).

After you’ve had your fill of food from the Market Table and Churrasco service, you can indulge in dessert (just ask your waitress) and/or coffee. I had to go with a coffee and yes, they had heavy whipping cream. Greg was tapped out, so I can’t tell you about the choices but I know from being nebby n’at they looked pretty darn amazing.

Will We Return?

Absolutely. I am already scheming a way to experience the brunch and another dinner. I want my parents to try it, and I think the kids would even enjoy (kids 6 and under eat free, seven to 12 are half price).

And of course I tried to scheme a way to change our carb-load pre-marathon dinner from the club to Fogo asked about the event spaces so I can convince my co-workers to come try for a future party. (There are three rooms, the biggest holds up to 100 guests, and you can enjoy the menu items and or get Churrasco service!)

Treat yourself and your family to this experience, it is absolutely a Pittsburgh must.

About Fogo de Chao

With 52 locations across the United States and others worldwide, Fogo de Chao has been around since 1972. If you are not lucky enough to be treated to the amazing service we experienced in Pittsburgh, add Fogo to your list of restaurants to look for while traveling (locate the nearest to you here).

Fogo de Chao Pittsburgh opens April 23 for seven days a week with lunch and dinner plus weekend brunch. Prices start at $15 for a lunch option (without churrasco experience) up to $48.95 for the experience described above. More details on this location available here.

Mistakes I Made: Whole30

Last January, I took on the Whole30. There were some mistakes I made – and since many of you are giving it a try right now, I’d love to share them with you. Portions of this post originally appeared on my blog, ‘lil Burghers. This post may contain affiliate links.

Mistakes I Made: Whole30

There are plenty of resources out there to help you have a successful Whole30. Mine was! I am not a medical professional, so please be sure to consult with one before starting a lifestyle change like this.

Mistake 1: Not trying Ghee in Round One.

ghee

I loved putting this on my sweet potatoes and cooking with it during Round 2. But in Round 1? I didn’t spend the money on it, nor did I care to take the time to make my own at home (because it involved cheesecloth and patience, but is totally doable with the recipe in the Whole30 Cookbook). That was a big mistake!

Ghee is a healthy fat that is made from pulling all the water and milk solids out of the butter, leaving you with pure goodness. If you’ve ever had an addiction to honey butter, this is a close friend. You should be able to get Ghee at your local grocery store (I did, even in Kittanning!). This is the brand I used and fell in love with – you might just want to put two in your cart now.

Mistake 2: Not keeping compliant snacks handy.

While snacking isn’t a thing on Whole30 (you should really eat three solid meals a day), I was training for the Half Marathon and sometimes needed a little extra to boost my energy and progress. Or there were times that I wasn’t fully hungry (or not feeling well) and just needed a quick, small bite.

For those times, I should have had some good snacks around – like cashews or macadamia nuts. (When I was in Round One, plantain chips were my jam. They’ve now been removed from the plan but will show up in my meals when I’m not 100% Whole30.) And while bars – not granola! – are not shortcuts, they’re really good to have on hand, too.

Mistake 3: Not trying RXBAR until the last day of Round 2.

It was the last day of Round Two. There I was, overwhelmed in Trader Joe’s and super hungry. Knowing my Crispy Angry Chicken Drummies wouldn’t be ready for at least another hour (because the coconut aminos Greg needed to make them were in my basket), I was staring at RXBAR in hopes that I’d see one I’d like that could tide me over yet be compliant. It was only a few hours left, but I still didn’t want to mess up.

I did it. I went for the Coconut Chocolate Rx Bar because I love those two ingredients so much (yes, I’m a Samoa girl). And guess what? Not only was it okay and compliant and delicious, it took me FOREVER to eat. (Perspective, I was at the Penn Ave Trader Joe’s near-ish to Chatham and I didn’t finish it until I was passing the Harmar exit on 28.) As a sweets girl, this was huge. My enjoyment of the bar lasted and it made me feel so much fuller than anything else I’d tried as a “quick win” snack.

If you’d like to try RXBAR, you can get them right from their site and if it’s your first order, you get $5 off your order when you click here!

That being said, I did have a few Lara Bars this time, too – Apple Pie and Cashew Cookie. They sound so “bad” but they are good too! I just ate them way too fast and will be sure to have a combo of these and the Rx Bars on hand next time – see Mistake 2. 

Mistake 4: Evangelizing Whole30 Too Much

Guys. I love this program / lifestyle. Maybe I talked too much about it, but it’s really changed my life. Sorry, not sorry. Some of my fears are that I made it sound scary and tough, but it’s really not. If you have your mind set on being successful with this, then every meal prep is worth it. Every “sacrifice” is worth it.

And it really helped to talk to everyone I knew about it – because then they understood when I couldn’t try their oh so delicious looking brownies or sloppy joes or have a beer at Beer Friday. And it helped them know that I am committed to making myself better. That’s big when you do something big like Whole30.

Mistake 5: Not keeping coconut aminos in the pantry.

coconut aminos

Some of our favorite recipes (Spicy Turkey, Chicken Drummies) call for coconut aminos and we always seemed to run out. I’d been buying them on Amazon which was fine, but a little pricey. Thankfully I was clued in that Trader Joe’s has them for just $2.99 a bottle! We are now stocked up and ready – we’ll be using this for our stir fry, meatloaf, wings…anything that called for soy sauce in the past!  (I’ve found throughout the years that soy makes me itch from the inside out – before I go to a hibachi or enjoy sushi, I have to take benedryl to “survive”!)

Mistake 6: Not trying Passion Fruit La Croix sooner.

Alright. This one is tough. As someone who really only drank pop when it was a birthday party or pizza night (hey, there’s something about Diet Pepsi with chocolate cake and pizza), giving up the sugary drinks was not an issue for me. Instead, I actually added something by giving La Croix waters a try. But I didn’t give my absolute favorite, Passion Fruit, a try soon enough!

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Say what? These don’t sound like Whole30 mistakes! The honesty about this post: if you make a true mistake on Whole30 (stepping on the scale, eating dairy, etc.), then you start over at Day 1 the next day. These mistakes I made aren’t like that, they’re mistakes I learned from and want to pass on to you – you’ve stuck around this long, why not give the Whole30 life a try?

What’s the first step to Whole30 Happiness?

Buy this book and this recipe book because they will teach you everything you need to know. We got some really great recipes from living out of these books during my Whole30 rounds and they’ll be family favorites for a long time. Promise.

And ditch the scale. This isn’t about weight loss. This is about feeling good again. My mood has changed for the better. My body is lifting heavier and working harder and smarter. It doesn’t matter what’s on that scale. Just ditch it.

If you’ve decided to embark on the Whole30 lifestyle, let me know! I’d love to support you in your journey. Good luck! 

An Interesting Keto Side Effect

This post may contain affiliate links. // Since September, I’ve been eating the Keto way. It’s been really helpful in that I’m shedding the pounds and am oh-so-close to pre-twin weight. Yesterday shed some light on a pretty interesting Keto side effect – best to warn anyone else eating this way that the same could happen to you if you’re not careful!

The Keto Lifestyle

Before I share my secret, if you’re not familiar, the Keto way of eating is high protein, higher fat, and low carb. It puts your body into ketosis where it burns fat as fuel. I’m not a medical professional, so any medical info you see here on this blog should be fact-checked with your own doctor before you take my word to heart! If you’d like to get more info, check out this book for more details.

An Interesting Keto Side Effect

So I get home from work and as Greg is headed out the door he tells me we have a problem. He guides me to the kitchen where I immediately see two sinks full of dishes. Before I can think of an apology for making all the foods as of late and not getting to the dishes, he tells me the dishes aren’t the issue. It’s the water backed up into our double sink that’s the issue. Yuck.

Of course, I didn’t listen when he told me to leave it alone while he went to work. I got under the sink and tried a few things with no luck. This morning, he texted me to tell me the good news. He sorted the issue. It was the interesting Keto side effect. And it’s disgusting.

This.

This (that white stuff) is grease that was stuck in our sink pipes. Disgusting, right? But yet at the same time cool – I mean look at that pipe mold! For real though, this is a side effect of changing your eating habits that you should know about – and a good reminder to never drain grease down your sink.

Lesson learned. Oops.

Tell me that we’re not the only ones who’ve done silly things that could have cost them a lot of money! What is something you’ve done that was a lesson learned?