What to Do in São Paulo
Alex Atala + D.O.M
Chef Alex Atala is the ambassador of the new Brazilian cuisine. ￼The opening of his restaurant D.O.M. in 1999 unveiled the flavors and ingredients of Brazil in a new way. His creations have been recognized around the world, and his restaurant has been placed in the top ten on “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants” list.
D.O.M. – Charcoal-Grilled Mango with Puxuri
Mango is grilled to be slightly smoky and almost completely melted for this dessert served with chocolate powder.
This popular restaurant by chef Rodrigo Oliveira specializes in traditional recipes from the northeastern part of Brazil. Located in the neighborhood of Vila Medeiros, it serves simple, delicious and inexpensive regional food like carne de sol and baião de dois (made with rice, beans, local cheese and sausage, and jerk beef). Try the cassava chips and torresmos (deep-fried pork belly bites), for the perfect snack.
Coffee Lab is known as the best coffee shop in Brazil. Owner Isabela Raposeiras goes to farms to buy directly from producers and find the most interesting coffee beans, which are roasted freshly in the shop and brewed through methods such as Hario V60, Aeropress and Clever.
You have probably already heard of Caipirinhas, Brazil's national cocktail made with Cachaça (distilled spirit sugarcane juice), sugar and lime. But if you want to know more about its main ingredient, Emporio Sagarana has a few hundred labels of the drink, as well as a number of artisanal beers.
Pastel de Vento
Pastels (or pasteis) are a traditional Brazilian street food that are pockets of dough stuffed with meat, cheese or fish and then fried until golden and crispy.
São Paulo has a lot of street markets throughout the week. It's a great chance to get to taste local ingredients and fruits, as well as have a snack or drink pressed sugarcane juice.
Located in the bohemian neighborhood of Vila Madalena, Casa Samambaia is all you want under one roof and definitely worth a visit. Once a month, the curators hand-pick talented makers, farmers, artisans and cooks, and turn the house into a big bazaar to sell their products. You can find sourdough breads, coffee, organic produce, artisanal candles and beautiful items for your kitchen like linen aprons, cutting boards and tea towels.
HM Café is housed in a building with a motorcycle shop, a hair salon, an art gallery, and a party space—making it quite the neighborhood hub. On Saturdays, they serve a delicious brunch worth checking out.
Food at HM Cafe
Shakshuka, a dish originally from Israel, is a great way to start your morning at HM Café.
Lá da Venda
The best creations of Heloisa Bacellar—chef and author of a number of best-selling cookbooks, such as Cooking for Friends—are on display in her shop. Her work is focused on comfort food, the dishes that bring us memories of our childhood. It also serves as an emporium, gathering beautiful artisanal products from the countryside where you will find enamel cookware, kitchen towels, cloth filters for brewing coffee in a traditional Brazilian way, and sweets like goiabada, butter and the best pão de queijo (cheese bread) in town.
Pão Padaria Artesanal
This organic, artisanal bread bakery started very small in the neighborhood of Jardins and now has five shops in the city. You can purchase freshly made bread, tartines, tarts, sandwiches and salads to take away or also have lunch in one of the stores.
Basilicata Bakery, located in the Bexiga neighborhood known for its Italian heritage was founded in 1914 by the Italian immigrant Felipe Ponzio. This bakery not only sells traditional Italian bread, but also a variety of other delights like lemon cannolis, a local favorite.
Located inside the Pinheiros food market, Comedoria Gonzales by chef Checho Gonzales is an informal spot with great food and cold beer. Try the ceviche made with the fish of the day marinated in mango juice and topped with coconut milk sago pearls—ask for the roasted sweet potatoes as a side dish, or the roasted pork chops.
Mercado Municipal de São Paulo
If you want to try fruits originally from Brazil, there's no better place than the São Paulo Municipal Market. The covered market, located inside a beautiful building with stained glass windows and domes, is where you can find a wide variety of foods—from fresh vegetables and fruits, to pasta, sweets and spices. On the second floor, there's a mezzanine with bars and restaurants. (In the picture: A vendor opening up the cacao fruit from Bahia, southeast of Brazil.)
Despite being on “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants” list, Mani Restaurant feels and looks very laid back and unpretentious. Chefs Helena Rizzo (named 2014 Best Female Chef by Restaurant Magazine) and Daniel Redondo create exquisite dishes using traditional and exotic Brazilian ingredients.
Dining at Maní
The chefs make great use of Brazilian ingredients, with dishes like this Peruvian parsnip and arrowroot gnocchi with tucupi dashi.
Padoca do Maní
Maní’s Bakery, serving different types of bread, cakes and sweets, is just a couple of blocks from their restaurant. This is a great place to have breakfast or to grab a bite in the afternoon.
Bruno Cabral travels around the country to find excellent cheeses made by small producers to sell in his São Paulo shop.
Located in downtown São Paulo, Beluga is one of the newer café options in the city, serving up trendy drinks like this espresso with tonic water.
KOF - King of the Fork
At this cycling-inspired café, you can find bike accessories and try a slowly brewed fresh coffee accompanied by orange or chocolate chilled pie with fleur de sel.
Bar da Dona Onça
Located in the iconic Copan Building designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer, the restaurant brings back the rich culinary culture from the Paulista inland and tasteful dishes from the bohemian cuisine of the capital city. Chef Janaína Rueda works with traditional ingredients to create great food that nurtures the body and soul, like the most famous Brazilian dish: feijoada.
Frida e Mina
On a sunny weekend, you will find a queue at the door of this ice cream shop, but it’s worth the wait. The ice cream is prepared with natural ingredients and the house-made cones are carefully made by hand, one by one. If lucky, you can track the movement of the small kitchen, while some of the more than 15 flavors available in the shop window are being created.
In the heart of Vila Madalena neighborhood, chef Ivan Ralston and his team keep veggie gardens in front of the shop and on the second floor at this contemporary restaurant focused on using Brazilian ingredients, especially from São Paulo, and well-applied techniques. Vegetables and native plants are grown in steel trolleys that can be moved around if needed. The minimalist architecture is a highlight, even in the back of the restaurant, where there is an area reserved to nibble on appetizers and to enjoy both classic and new drinks.
A Casa do Porco Bar
A Casa do Porco Bar is a butchery and bar located in the city center that combines the passions of chef Jefferson Rueda. It has a window to the street, where they sell pork and veggie sandwiches for takeout. On the other side of the shop, you can see sausages and cured meat being made, which are also available at the restaurant. As the name suggests, pork is the star, but the house has no limits: Vegetables, seafood and other meats are brilliantly cooked in wood fire, too.