Bar Fogo, inside the entrance to the new Fogo de Chao Brazilian restaurant in downtown Portland, Oregon, has unveiled a Happy Hour to be excited about, especially for folks working in the central business district. Unique drink options are featured alongside a modest but impressive menu of small plates. If you already work downtown, stick around long enough to quench your thirst and take the edge off your late afternoon hunger. If you are going into town for the evening, consider missing the worst of the traffic by heading to Sixth and Salmon for the 4:30 start to a very happy two hours.
On a recent visit, we started with Caprinhas and the Warm Hearts of Palm and Spinach Dip. The Fogo Caprinha is classic ingredients of cachaca, cane sugar and lime. To its credit, the sweetness is muted in favor of the tartness of the limes. And there are a lot of them! I have never seen that many wedges of lime in one drink, and the first sip was almost startling. Very refreshing indeed! The dip is a pleasant variation on the ubiquitous artichoke version, with a distinctive flavor of its own thanks to the hearts of palm.
Round Two featured the best of the cocktails and the nicest food item: The Mango Refresco and the Picanha Sirloin Sliders. The mango cocktail has the Wow Factor going on: Vodka, Red Moscato sparkling wine, and a killer combination of mango, lime and basil. I haven’t had a more refreshing drink, ever. I will go out of my way to have one of these, if I have to fly to Brazil. Wait, I only have to go downtown…
The sliders were a revelation too: a good cut of meat, cooked to perfection for the purpose, and a bun that has the lightness and buttery flavor of a popover. Instead of one more worn-out nod to the expected, Fogo de Chao has created a slider that literally glides across the palate. Be sure to slip one of the slivers of red chili mounded in the center of the plate into your slider. That’s the picanha!
The other cocktail that caught our attention was the Manaus Mule: a serendipitous pairing of vodka and Cedilla Liqueur de Acai, with fresh lime and Cock and Bull Ginger Beer. Like the Caprinha and the Mango Refresco, the mule works hard to conjure up the sunny beach you are longing for. The Acai berry has developed a cache for its health qualities, so let’s assume it’s good for you. It also went well with the Grilled Prawn Skewers. The good-sized prawns come out with a lovely char on the outside and a juicy interior. Dip in the sweet and spicy sauce provided. Chew slowly. Wash down with generous sip of Manaus Mule. Repeat.
Attentive service from a knowledgeable and friendly staff rounds out the experience of the new and welcome Happy Hour at Fogo de Chao Portland. But be careful! A couple of drinks and an appetizer might just get you into the beautifully appointed dining room for the full treatment of Brazilian fare, fine dining service and meaty contentment… if you’re into that sort of thing. Happy Hour is M-F, 4:30-6:30 p.m..—written by Jeff Thomas, RFT Contributor, Photos by Dawn Thomas.