Sao Paulo, the megatropolis of South America is awash with great dining opportunities and with a population nearing 20 million, and the largest mix of migrants in Brazil, it’s a city packed with tasty variation.
From D.O.M to Dalva e Dito, Macato to Kinoshita - and the famous Skye Bar, there are endless chances for high flying experiences across Sao Paulo, but alongside this, there’s also many hidden, intimate treats to discover. From the Municipal Market in Centro to one of the best coffee shops in Brazil, a day spent traversing the concrete jungle of Sao Paulo yields a fanciful fare, enough to keep even the most discerning food lovers busy and full, very full.
A COFFEE, PLEASE
Brazil is famous for coffee, but surprisingly enough it can be quite hard to find a good, go-to, coffee bar in Sao Paulo as the majority of Brazil’s coffee crop is immediately exported to North America and Europe.
Coffee Lab in Sao Paulo bucks this trend, boasting what many people claim to be some of the best coffee in South America, maybe even the world. Located in the trendy neighbourhood of Vila Magdalena, at Coffe Lab they take their brewing seriously. A place for true coffee geeks, where science and passion fuse to produce an extensive range that’s roasted, brewed and served direct within their quirky laboratory.
They even have their own coffee school where visitors can experience exceptional espressos, classic cappuccinos, smooth Aero & strong French press, and magnificent mochas. All made from their exclusive blends and served by baristas who have the expertise and precision of a Michelin-starred chef.
STREET FOOD MELTING POT
After a tasty morning coffee, take a wander straight to the saturday morning flea and antiques market in Jardim Paulista, where after you’ve had an antiquated fill, you can pop next-door to the small but excellent street-food market. A vibrant melting pot of traditional high quality Brazilian food stalls where the locals can be found feasting down on some classic Brazilian street cuisine.
On the menu: succulent prawn pastels, mini chicken empanadas, the best espetos (Brazilian kebabs made with spiced beef, chicken or pork) you will find in Brazil, and my favourite, acaraje com camarao, plus a variety of sweet treats such as candied coconut and abobora em pedacos - sweet pumpkin served with a large selection of sweet jams, chocolate and coconut condiments.
Enjoy while listening to some live Brazilian folk music and if you still have some energy left you can burn off some of the well earned calories by having a dance with some of the old time Paulista locals.
ONLY THE BEST INGREDIENTS
Exotic fruits, vegetables & the best mortadella sandwiches in town. The Municipal Market is well known both locally and as a tourist hotspot for its vast array of exotic fruits, nuts, sauces and vegetables. From Jabuticaba to Pitmoba and Pitanga there’s a world of weird and wonderful Brazilian denizens on offer and its easy to spend a couple of hours sampling its many juicy delights, which the stall owners are more than happy to share with you.
You’ll also find another Sao Paulo speciality in abundance that Paulistas flock to the market in droves for, the infamous and mountainous Mortadella sandwich, a mountain of mortadella sausage, topped with another mountain of provologne cheese, traditionally served on a mountain of sour dough bread, with mayonnaise and dijon mustard - also mountain shaped. I know I just used the word mountain a lot but trust me, there is no other way to describe it.
Nearly every restaurant (mostly located on the upper floor of the market) proudly promotes their own haughty variations of this tasty heart stopper, but to sample the original and one of the best Paulistas go to Bar do Monde, located on the ground floor where you can sit amongst the hustle and bustle of the market and chow down on one of these salty bad boys, beware though, you may find its just too much to make it through one by yourself (I shared one between three ) best approached on an empty stomach with a large group of good friends.
Rua da Cantareira, 306
Tel. +55 (11) 3313-3365
Like D.O.M, the restaurant only uses Brazilian ingredients but unlike D.O.M, where the focus is on Amazonian ingredients, Dalva draws inspiration from all of the Brazilian states, with recipes Inspired by the chef’s family favourites such as Feijoada (classic pork stew with rice and beans), Moqueca (a salt water fish stew in coconut milk) and Pato de Tucupi (duck in a sauce of Tucupi).
Summing up the restaurants ethos, sous chef Tuca Mezzomo says: "It’s traditional Brazilian comfort food with a european twist, its what we ate as children, given Alex Atala’s special touch”.
Dalva e Dito Rua Padre João Manuel, 1115 - Cerqueira César
Tel. +55 (11) 99426-6973, Website
A DRINK WITH A VIEW
Finish your busy day with some late night cocktails and an amazing view of the city, the best way to put some late night icing on your Sao Paulo tasting tour. It’s also a great moment to step back from the madness of the place and contemplate the sheer enormity of the city you just spent your day eating.
It’s located at the top of hotel Unique and boasts the best views in the city, a panoramic city scape to rival any. The building is a unique design and conjures up thoughts of a futuristic space ship. Sip on signature martinis, relax by a beautifully lit pool and if you're still feeling hungry, grab a bite at the restaurant helmed by French chef Emmanuel Bassoleil.