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Restaurants & Bars 3

Meat, meat and more meat... Fogo de Chao and Lou's Red Oak BBQ

cvc | Nov 5, 200510:35 AM

It's inconceivable that I've had more meat, or more types of meat, in this entire year let alone the last 48 hours. But such is the case with back to back visits to Fogo de Chao and Lou's Red Oak BBQ. Out of town guests who make no pretense about loving their meat were the inspiration for Thursdays visit to FdC on La Cienega. Mobbed at 8:30pm when I arrived, the place never let up even upon our departure at 11pm. Was it the pending Latin summit? No, just the Latin Grammeys. This place would fit nicely in Downtown Disney. It is the E ticket of chain restaurants.

You know how it works by now: one price fits all ($52.50 on this night). You carry around your own bar tab, dessert and drinks are extra. The staff is very courteous and the continuous onslaught of baby popovers, lukewarm side dishes, and meat on the spit certainly keeps everyone busy. The meats are good to okay with the "bottom" sirloin taking top honors. The famous salad bar sports the largest beet slices I've ever encountered, as well as the hardest mozzarella balls possible.

Dessert included a wonderful flan, a trecherous tres leches (look to Border Grill or Xiomara for the real thing) and a strawberry and vanilla ice cream concoction that was touted to aid with digestion. The whole effect is finally one of an Evita themed Bar Mitzvah or an old Carol Burnette skit with Tim Conway and Harvey Korman donning Brazilian garb. However, at $288.00 without tip for four that included two mojitas, three large bottled waters, two coffees, and three desserts (two of which were comped because someone thought we waited too long which was sweet), FdC is not nearly as amusing. Maybe Gardel's next time for that churascaria experience.

Last night was ultimately much more satisfying although it did begin with a 3:30pm drive from Santa Monica to Lakewood in Friday rush hour traffic. (Do I qualify as a Hound or what?) A recent Elmer Dills spot (yes, Elmer Dills!) raved about this little family owned BBQ joint in a shopping mall next to Von's on Woodruff. For a $100 three of us had combo plates of scrumptious BBQ beef and pulled pork, tri tip and baby back ribs. The house BBQ sauce is excellent. Only the roast pork was dry. Side dishes included terrific carrots and green beans and a perfectly baked sweet potato with sides of brown sugar and butter. The Kraft mac 'n cheese is just that (only truth in advertising here). A bottle of Greg Norman cab (don't ask) for $23 is the top premium selection, along with two glasses of a Turner cab, a nice strawberry lemonade, homemade apple pie and chocolate cake rounded out the bill. Oh, did I mention the great spicy chicken wings and skillet cornbread? Worth the drive? You bet, especially during low traffic times. It took us thirty five minutes to get back. And the servers may not be from the Copacabana school (as George Sanders once alluded to) but they embody the best of local high school exuberance. Even the Von's gas station in front was selling gas for less than Costco!

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