Fogo de Chão Brings Its Brazilian Churrasco to Woodland Hills
A carnivore’s delight.
CategoryEat & Drink
Written byChelsee Lowe
The fifth Los Angeles-area outpost of Fogo de Chão—the 74th location worldwide—opened in March in an unexpected spot: the first floor of The Q Topanga, a luxury apartment complex directly across from the Westfield Topanga open-air mall. The eatery has an attractive, appealing vibe. A long bar and open kitchen flank either side of the moody, mirrored dining room. The open kitchen showcases an expansive grill—integral to churrasco, or traditional Brazilian grilling—helmed by “gauchos” who expertly roast meats above the fire.
The Churrasco Experience, which I suggest you order here, is essentially a distinct and fantastic all-you-can-eat meal. Step one of the feast is to visit the “market table,” where a colorful collection of aged cheeses, cured meats, smoked salmon and specialty salads like apple manchego await. Avoid filling your plate too early as you mosey down the buffet. Quintessential Brazilian dishes are found near the end, namely feijoada (a black bean stew with sausage), rice, farofa (baked yuca flour with bacon), black-pepper-candied bacon, and pao de quiejo—warm, chewy cheese buns made from tapioca flour.
Back at your seat, an array of grilled meats arrives, one by one, on sword-sized skewers paraded by the gauchos. Carved right onto your plate, with aromas filling the air, the meats are hard to resist. Picanha, or top sirloin cap, is a churrasco staple, seasoned only with rock salt and perfectly cooked at the grill. Lamb picanha—lamb chops marinated in fresh mint, white wine and lemon—are tender and decadent. Chicken legs soaked in brandy and beer are also tasty.
It feels as though Fogo de Chão has been feeding the Valley for years.
The gauchos, gracefully swirling between tables with their skewers as partners, are a fun part of a Fogo de Chão visit. A little green card next to your plate signals them to stop by and serve you; flip the card to its red side if you’d like to take a break. Even then, caramelized bananas will probably be offered as a delicious palate cleanser. (Although to me they felt like a midmeal dessert.)
Speaking of desserts, lots of options here, from tres leches cake to papaya cream, a decadent concoction of fresh papaya blended with vanilla ice cream. Should you choose to forgo dessert for another round of cocktails, consider the caipirinha. The signature cocktail of Brazil, caipirinhas are made with cachaca, a spirit made from fermented sugar cane juice. Fogo de Chão makes half a dozen iterations. For some heat, try the mango habanero caipirinha.
Really, the buzz in the room mitigates the restaurant’s somewhat unchic location. It feels like you’re at a wedding reception, where warmth and conviviality flow. And the eatery avoids the cold, formulaic vibe of a new chain restaurant. It feels as though Fogo de Chão has been feeding the Valley for years.
He’s Gwyneth’s partner.