A Foodie's Guide to São Paulo
So Sampa might be Rio’s significantly uglier sister and a complete concrete jungle, but São Paulo – the third largest city in the world – is a foodie’s heaven with an eclectic dining profile that really does leave pretty Rio in the shade. Wherever you eat in São Paulo, be sure to try Brazilian delicacies such as Coixinhas (deep fried chicken and cheese balls), Pastelle (little pastries filled with all sorts of yummy meats and cheeses – also deep fried), Feijoada (a gut-busting traditional Brazilian meal of stewed meat, rice and black beans), Moqueca de Camarão (shrimp stew in coconut milk) and of course the national cocktail of Brazil: the mighty Caipirinha.
Mortadella at Mercado Municipal £
Mercado Municipal de São Paulo – MERCADÃO Rua da Cantareira, 306 – Centro +55 11 3227 – 6938
A must-see when you visit Sampa is its colourful food market, housed in a stunning colonial-slash- industrial building in the centro district of the city. Everything from fruit to nuts, soup to sandwiches can be found in this bustling spot, and we recommend you turn up hungry. Stop off for an epic mortadella sandwich at the Hocca Bar overlooking the market: layers of Italian meat with cheese, pickles, mustard and anything else you fancy. It’s an establishment in itself!
Ramen at Aska £
Rua Galvão Bueno, 466, +55 11 3277-9682
Brazil has the densest Japanese expat population in the world, so you’ll find superb Japanese food here and perhaps the best right here in the foodie capital of Brazil. Head over to Sampa’s Japanese district – Liberdade – for some sushi, noodles or ramen. Aska is a popular spot with an open kitchen and a lovely buzzing atmosphere. There’s a no bookings policy, so prepared to queue a bit at peak times.
Meat under a fig tree £££
Rua Haddock Lobo 1738, Jardim Paulista +55 11 3087-1399
A churrascaria is the gastronomic Brazilian experience: essentially in indoor BBQ where sharp suited waiters will come to your table proffering all manner of juicy cuts of meat on massive swords. You’ll be given a two-sided coin to place next to your plate: the red side means STOP and the green side means FILL ME UP. And those mini tongs are for grabbing the slices of meat as the waiter carves them over your plate. A Figueira Rubaiyat’s churrascaria regularly tops eating out guides worldwide not only for its succulent meat and generously stocked salad bar, but its centuries-old fig tree that sits squarely in the middle of the restaurant and towers over diners as they eat.
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São Cristovao ££
R. Aspicuelta, 533 Vila Madalena +55 11 3097-9904
Paulistas consider Vila Madalena to be one of the best places to head for dinner or drinks, or a night of dancing. A bit bohemian and with plenty of jazzy vibes, this surprisingly leafy neighbourhood to the west of the city is a cooler alternative to the bright lights of Avenida Paulista. São Cristovao, with every square inch of wall space plastered in footballing memorabilia, is a winner for both dinner and drinks. You’ll get seriously good service from friendly staff, hearty Brazilian fare and punchy Caipirinhas. And it always seems to be happy hour here – be warned!