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DINING: Is Fogo too expensive for you? Meet—or meat—Tucanos

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Dining - A&E

Your feelings toward Tucanos Brazilian Grill (13225 Levinson Lane, Noblesville, 770-6988) are likely to be influenced strongly by whether you’ve dined at Fogo de Chao.

While Fogo isn’t the first place in the world offering churrasco dining—in which servers slice meat and other offerings from skewers directly onto your plate in “until-you-are-ready-to-burst” quantities—it’s the chain that defined it here in central Indiana.
 

aedine-apb-tucanos01-15col.jpg A substantial bar of appetizers, salads and sides supplements Tucanos Brazilian Grill’s table-side meat slicing. (IBJ Photos/ Aaron P. Bernstein)

Since 2008, an invitation to a business lunch at Fogo de Chao downtown has been an appointment not to be missed. If you’ve been there, you’ve no doubt been spoiled by the impeccably carved meats that sizzle onto your plate; the seemingly endless salad and sides bar; and the sporty, gaucho-garbed serving staff.
 

aedinepb-tucanos04-15col.jpg

In comparison, well, Tucanos can easily feel like a theme park restaurant where the junior varsity staff mumbles a bit through the pre-set explanatory spiel, the meats are hit and miss (Top Sirloin = hit, fatty Contra Coxa = miss), and the uniform feels more Star Trek than South American.

But here’s the (dry) rub: Lunch at Fogo runs $29.50; lunch at Tucanos is $15.95.

The dinner difference is $48.50 vs. $22.95.

Roughly translated, that means two can dine at Tucanos for the cost of one at Fogo.

Suddenly, the minor downgrades don’t seem so bad, do they?

And Tucanos has its pleasures. Among them is the tasty Brazilian lemonade (not only with refills but with the option of switching out the fruit added to the mix) and the Lobster Bisque as an included item on the buffet. Other benefits: the brown and black beans as sides along with rich, buttery mashed potatoes, the salads (both pre-made and DIY) and sliced meats that make ordering an appetizer unnecessary (although I’m still curious about the Brazilian Cosinha). Those and the tableside marinated beef brisket and grilled pineapple, and the mere $6.95 for a kids-under-12 lunch all turn Tucanos from an also-ran into a more budget-conscious alternative to its luxurious downtown cousin.

Dinner, by the way, offers some beef and pork offerings not in the lunch lineup, including Brazilian sausage and Filet Mignon com Bacon. Skewers of shrimp, scallops and lobster are available at an additional charge, and vegetarians can stick to the salad bar ($11.95 lunch/$15.95 dinner).

Desserts, not included in the prix fixe, include Brulee Cheesecake, Mango Butter Cake, and the obligatory decadent chocolate towers. Our overenthusiastic waiter brought them out to show before we were even done with soups and salads, not appreciating that a meal at Tucanos is best experienced leisurely.

—Lou Harry

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  • Bad Service
    I recently went to the restaurant to watch the World Cup after they sent emails promoting this event. It was a Joke and a ridiculous waste of all our time! Not only did we have to wait 45 minutes to get a beer the waitress couldn't even keep track of who ordered what, the large screen was blurry and distorted and the volume was either not on or going in and out! Don't promote an event if your not ready to serve the people! Beautiful and great location restaurant but not worth the high dollar you will pay to eat and drink!
  • World Class City?
    Yes, it's people like Lou Harry, who write reviews of restaurants that are less expensive than than places featured in in-flight magazines, who are keeping Indianapolis from becoming a World Class City. It's not the absence geographical beauty or relative small size or lack of historical significance. Lou Harry, and Hoosiers like him, are keeping Indy from being the next Paris!
  • This attitude
    Oh come on, Indy will NEVER be a world-class city in nearly every factor, particularly as long as anyone clings to the value of being label-conscious - Fogo vs. Tucanos, Starbucks vs. McDonalds. Why not appreciate the qualities that make Indy interesting - including someone willing to offer decent restaurant reviews of both national and local restaurants in the Indy/Marion/Hamilton/Johnson megaplex. Thanks for the reviews and keep up the good work on reporting interesting places to dine in Indiana.
  • Lots of people read, but
    Comprehension is another matter, I think you were pretty clear this isn't FOGO...And how Indianapolis will never be a world class city got in the conversation...does one never eat steak anywhere but St. Elmo's, Morton's etc.? Sigh didn't read "cheap first and everything else second" in the article...it is the expression of a personal bias that "cheap" is what the people of Indy, and Hoosiers in general, are. Sounds like Jessica in N-ville found plenty to like, and is still willing to spend to go to Fogo for the special occasion...everybody wins... I am sure Fogo realizes their price point makes them a "special occasion" for a lot of people. I will give Tuscanos a shot soon Lou, and I will let you know (and I have been to Fogo, which I really enjoyed)...thanks for writing
  • Expensive is world class?
    I enjoy Fogo de Chao and take the family there 2-3 times a year. However, I live in Noblesville and welcome a similar dining experience closer to home. Doesn't hurt that it's nearly half the price as Fogo, and I appreciate that they have grilled pineapple and seafood available. I don't understand how spending more money at one CHAIN vs another contributes to Indy's designation as a world class city. If I want a churrasco experience then I'd rather save money at Tucano's and spend my money at my favorite local INDEPENDENT establishments such as H20 Sushi, Recess, Oakley's and Bonge's Tavern.
  • Worth a shot
    I'll give anything a try at least once. Been to Fogo and loved it. Didn't realize this type of place was opening in Hamilton Town Center but since I live 3 miles away, I'll give it a whirl.
  • sigh
    Not sure what the issue is, Sigh. I think I made very clear that you don't get the same level experience here as Fogo. I'm not sure where you are reading "cheap first and everything else second." Thanks for reading, though.-Lou
    • This attitude is the problem
      As long as the criteria is "cheap first, everything else a distant second," Indianapolis will not be a world class city. Sorry.

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