Gastronomy: the practice or art of choosing, cooking and eating good food.
This is the definition provided by Google and I dare say, it is spot on about this post.
Sao Paulo is known for business, food, nightlife and museums. The latter was just added so the city could compete with other more attractive cities in Brazil. As a city, Sao Paulo really does not have beautiful landmarks and inherent beauty like Rio. It’s dirty, grey, crowded, concrete bound and the cost of living and crime are sky-high, so it has to make up for all its shortcomings in other ways.
This is where Food comes in. The city is gastronomical in every way. One can’t travel to Sao Paulo and not be exposed to many types of cuisine and incredible restaurants. And Paulistanos, inhabitants of the city of Sao Paulo, do love their food. You will find them eating out regularly. Bars, padarias (bistros), pizza parlors, churrascarias, and upscale restaurants are in every corner of every neighborhood. Eating is for Paulistanos an art form, which requires tact, inspiration, commentary and often deep pockets.
I exercised my Gastronomy muscles quite well while travelling in Sao Paulo and these are the highlights.
Coco Bambu $$$
This places takes number one in my Gastronomy tour (a.k.a. eat until you are ready to pass out, because you would rather lick that plate than let it go to waste). It’s huge (3 full floors) and it needs to be. It’s always busy and reservations are not accepted. Normally, that would make me turn around and look for something else, but this place was A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!!! Every dish looked great, tasted marvelous and I just wanted to move in. It’s somewhat expensive, but if you can splurge, this is it.
The restaurant is known for a particular dish- International Shrimp. Lots of shrimp in a cheese white sauce, baked and topped with potato chips. It is served with white rice. Absolutely amazing! We also had the Fish Stew (Moqueca) and grilled fish with vegetables. Every portion is family sized and meant to be shared. We would not have been able to order so much food had it not been for the fact we had 8 people in our group.
Don’t leave until you try the desserts. We had the baked Coconut Macaroon with ice cream. If heaven exists, I want it to be covered in this stuff.
If you want something alcoholic, try the regular Lime Caipirinha which is served in a cute coconut cup.
Sushi Papaia $$
This restaurant is tiny, but the food is delicious. Late at night (after 9pm), there is an interesting mix of business people, bon vivant and Brazilian celebrities, kinda like New York.
Try the lychee caipirinha, the green tea and their family size sushi platter.
One specialty is the Hot Roll, a fried sushi roll. It’s slightly battered and deep dried. It’s not greasy.
An upscale version of a cafe. The place to go hang out, do business, watch people and be seen. Lots of couples on the weekend.
Try the Guava pie. It’s covered with cheese ice-cream, a perfect combination of flavors. Sweet and salty.
Bar do Juarez $$$
Great on Sundays afternoon for a lazy late lunch. And when I say late lunch, I mean 3-5pm. If you arrive before that the place may be a little empty. Brazilians party hard during the weekend and often nightclubs do not close until 6am on Sundays, so getting up before 1pm is pretty hard.
Bar do Juarez has a per kilo buffett for finger foods, although in Brazil, one never eats with their fingers, unless you are in McDonalds. It also has an incredibly vast menu. The waiters will keep the draft beers coming (called chope). They mark it down in a tally on your table for your benefit so you can remember how many you have had. LOL
Their food specialty is the Picanha na Brasa. A tender steak that is served raw, covered in garlic and olive oil. A mini grill is delivered so you can barbecue at your table. It comes with bread, a vegetable salad called vinaigrette and farofa (manioc flour toasted).
If you are not a fan of beef, try the Fish Fillets, also delicious.
Chapeu de Sol $$
The beach bar in Juquehy that is also a restaurant and pizzaria. The food is exceptionally good for a beach bar and the Fish Fillets were some of the best I have ever had. Locals also rave about the Fish Stew, which was around R$200, a little more than I wanted to spend for lunch.
Catupiry Store $-$$
This was an unexpected find I mentioned in a prior blog post about Brazilian snacks you have to try. Originally a factory that made the creamy Brazilian cheese, it has been transformed into a Bistro/ store where you can eat several snacks, main dishes and desserts made with Catupiry and also buy the products.
The place gets busy during lunch and is in a fairly deserted part of the town, but it’s the most affordable place to eat I went to in Sao Paulo. Lunch dishes cost around R$14 per plate and snacks were arround R$5 each.
That my friends is super cheap for this city.
So if you are a gastronome and want to experience the best Sao Paulo has to offer, you will not be disappointed. The city will still be dirty, crowded and hectic, but your eyes and stomach will be happy.
$ signs indicate how many digits it usually costs per person