The Brazilian churrascaria craze hits Dubai

Fogueira interior

Inside Fogueira – I took this pic at 1am when we were leaving and the restaurant had emptied out 😉

Dubai; Traffic is steaming on a Thursday night. Our taxi driver doesn’t know how to reach the hotel, and neither does Google maps so we decide to jump out and make our own way. The entrance is hidden away, in wait for this, a car park, in one of the JBR towers. We stumble in, literally, my heels are killing me. The lift whisks us to the 35th floor, the rooftop. The restaurant is abuzz – a cute, cosy and convivial joint all decked out in oakwood. We’re in Fogueira at the Ramada Plaza JBR, Dubai’s first dedicated Brazilian churrascaria. They are popping up across Dubai as quickly as it takes to skewer the barbequed meat. In the space of six months, we now have three.

The hostess guides us to our reserved table in the corner, but we change our mind and opt for al fresco, overlooking twinkly Dubai. There’s no menu. It’s an all-you-can eat deal, and drink…a trio of hot appetisers rock up. Hot cheesy mini bread rolls – baked with tapioca flour. Am pretty sure the cheese is parmesan, unless it’s the Brazilian equivalent? Warm and stodgy in a good comforting way. Coxinhas – Portuguese for chicken thigh, a typical dish of many South American countries, Brazil included – basically fine shreds of chicken, coated in wheat flour and deep fried. Croquette-like. Yep you’re good, we like you. Deep-fried banana – well that needs no explanation. I would have much preferred this one for dessert.

A quick glance at the salad bar inside, but with pretty standard fare, nothing really stands out – a quinoa salad is by far the most adventurous dish. Ready to commence the churrascaria fest, our waiter tells us (at the start of our evening) to turn over our coasters from red to green. Of course in the dim lighting, we forget until we are reminded. Here the meat is roasted on charcoal, but back in Brazil, wood is sometimes used. Churrasco-style cooking originates from southern Brazil’s Pampa region when the gaucho cowboys cooked their meat over open flames. Infact Fogueira translates to bonfire. Nowadays, passadores, aka meat waiters, arrive at the table with metre-long skewers speared with all types and cuts of meat, which are carved in front of you.

Meat on the BBQ

Meat roasting away on the BBQ

At Fogueira, there’s chicken – medallions and chunky thighs, lamb – chops and diced – and every cut of beef you can imagine, but whilst all the meat is succulent and tender, it’s the Brazilian picanha or rump cap with its slither thin layer of fat that truly stands out for its juicy, caramelised flavour. Oh and there’s barbequed pineapple in between the meat fest which makes for a great palate cleanser. Our accompaniments are served on the table in retro Creuset-like pots – rice, polenta, black beans, mashed potato and farofa – the latter a cassava flour mix toasted with beef bacon. We’re so engrossed in all the meat, we hardly touch the sides. And we forget to turn the coasters over when we need a break, so the meat flows endlessly. One thing’s for sure, this is no restaurant for veggies.

The waiting staff certainly know their meat and can’t do enough for us – but they are a little too attentive for our liking which I put down to the fact my cover is blown. I know this because the sweet waiter whips out a photo of me as we are leaving – bless him, we do have a giggle – as does he. Despite booking with Roundmenu, I am clearly gonna to have to don wigs from now on – anyone know a good supplier?

In the meantime, Fogueira offers a reasonably priced deal for quality meat in a buzzing setting, once you figure out how to get there. With a samba show thrown in, it makes a fab choice for a celebratory and raucous gathering with friends. A couple of other dedicated churrascarias have followed Fogueira’s lead, all beginning with F bizarrely (details below). I don’t know if this town can really sustain three Brazilian restaurants in such close proximity, given that many other South-American restaurants here also serve this barbequed feast. Do you?

Fogueira is located on the 35th floor of the Ramada Plaza JBR at JBR Bahar Tower (car park entrance on the side road). T: +971 4 4398888. The all-you-can eat deal is priced at AED 260 per person including soft beverages, plus another AED 100 for unlimited booze (caipirinhas, beer and vino). Book on RoundMenu and you’ll get a 25% discount on food any night of the week! Open daily for dinner, as well as lunch on weekends. Licensed.

Fogo Vivo is located at the Ocean View Hotel JBR. T; + 971 4 8145599, E; AED 250 per person for a similar deal. Open daily for dinner and for lunch on weekends. Licensed.

Frevo is located at Fairmont The Palm. T; +971 4 4573457, E; Open daily for dinner (AED 295 per person) and brunch on Friday (AED 295 with soft beverages, AED 475 inclusive of booze – not champagne). Licensed.

A bientôt.

FooDiva. x

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    Barbeque, Brazilian, Churrascaria, Dubai, Dubai Marina, Hotels, Licensed, Restaurant Reviews, Restaurants
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14 Responses to “The Brazilian churrascaria craze hits Dubai”

  1. Geordie Armani April 21, 2013 at 9:43 am

    I have been eagerly awaiting this review, it sounds fabulous 🙂 there is a good wig shop near Port Rashid 😉

    • FooDiva April 21, 2013 at 8:29 pm

      It makes a nice change from all those other boring buffet style all you can eat and drink deals. I’ll be checking out that wig place – question is what colour hair? 😉 x

  2. Johan Z April 21, 2013 at 10:19 am

    This brings back happy memories of my first ever visit to a Churrasceria in Rio many years ago – there was so much meat and so tender….. Thanks for bringing back the memories.

    • FooDiva April 21, 2013 at 8:30 pm

      Pleasure Johan. Brazil is still on my wish list!

  3. tarek April 21, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Thank you Foodiva,

    i am happy that you are a meatlover 🙂 it is great to read your feedback and happy that you kept eating until 1 am 🙂

    • FooDiva April 21, 2013 at 8:33 pm

      Thanks Tarek. One thing’s for sure I could never ever give up meat – especially one cooked so simply. I’ll be back…with the wig 😉

      • tarek April 21, 2013 at 10:11 pm

        be careful for the Wig to fall in the meat please , by d way Chef Ramos added new 2 items i am sure you will love :Meat cubes with Melted Parmesan cheese & Safron Marinated Organic chicken cubes 🙂 , see you soon xx

  4. Stacy April 21, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Thorough review and so enjoyable to read, as always, Samantha. We lived in Brazil for almost six years and have missed the churrascarias since we moved. I forwarded your link to my husband and he said, “Choose one and we’ll go Thursday evening.” How to choose?

    • FooDiva April 21, 2013 at 8:38 pm

      Lucky you so want to visit Brazil! Well I can only speak for Fogueira. From other foodies who have tried the other two, Frevo is a little more glam (but I would try their brunch deal instead), and Fogo Vivo on a par with Fogueira in terms of atmosphere. Love to know where you end up! Thanks for your kind words. x

  5. Sally - My Custard Pie April 22, 2013 at 7:41 am

    So do you think all the restaurant managers in Dubai now have ‘look out for this woman’ briefs?!! Good review – but yes, are there enough people interested in this kind of dining to sustain three places? The deal sounds a good one so maybe…

  6. ginger and scotch April 24, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Thanks so much for your review Sam – just the push my husband and I needed to book a table their as I walk by practically every day since the Ramada is right next to us.

    We went a few nights back and had a nice time but disappointed we couldn’t sit outside due to the thunderstorm (of course, no fault to the restaurant).

    We went just for the meat and 70% of the grilled stuff was pretty good (Scotch even enjoyed the chicken hearts which he was at first hesitant about!). I loved the tenderloin and most of the other beef selections but there was one particular cut that was too salty for my taste. And I can’t say that I cared for the curried chicken but the wings were great for my son.

    The sides were a huge miss for us (I don’t like beans nor polenta, and the veg was bland). Plus, the more sides we eat, the less room for meat 😉

    Afraid the appetizers didn’t do it for me either but that’s because I don’t like most fried things nor fried bananas so that was ok.

    Salad bar was nice but again I wanted to save room for the meat! The accompanying sauces were ok although I think Pachenga @ Hilton does a better chimichurri and pico de gallo.

    Again, we really enjoyed our evening out as the location is perfect for us and the high floor and views were a plus. However, the restaurant reeked of BBQ smoke the second we walked out of the elevator and we did leave with the smokey smell of BBQ clinging to our hair and clothes – perhaps they need better ventilation? Staff were also great -especially with our 3-year old, Wee Scotch.

    • FooDiva April 25, 2013 at 10:22 am

      Great constructive feedback Ginger. I’ve always had a soft spot for Pachanga’s churrasco but have not been in a long time. Thanks for the reminder 🙂

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