There are many things Sao Paulo is best known for in Brazil – and the cuisine is on top of that list! The city’s population represents every ethnicity in the country, so Sao Paulo cuisine encompasses something for everyone. There are thousands of restaurants, and if there’s something you crave, it’s bound to be there. Whether it be a Michelin star restaurant or local favorites like Coxinha or Pao de Queijo (cheese bread) – the food and drink of Sao Paulo is sure to please.
Let’s talk Michelin stars first, a top honor recognized worldwide. For 2019, Sao Paulo’s Evvai, a modern Italian restaurant, was awarded as one of the newly starred selections in the city. Here, chef Luiz Felipe Souza received one star, for his “modern Italian menu [featuring] dishes that are fresh, well-balanced and highly visual,” per Michelin inspectors. The 2018 two-star level restaurants retained their status this year as well. They include Chef Alex Atala’s D.O.M., and Tuju from Chef Ivan Ralston. Both focus on serving traditional Brazilian fare.
Tuju provides an urban garden setting in Sao Paulo’s Vila Madalena neighborhood. With an open kitchen, chef Ralston and his team showcase modern Brazilian cuisine and native seasonal produce that has been sustainably sourced by partnering with artisans and small producers. Menus change throughout the year, but diners can expect dishes like catch of the day with spaghetti squash, and spring green curry with peach palm hearts and green peas. The bar offers a range of delicious wines and unique cocktails to enjoy.
Perhaps Sao Paulo’s most highly acclaimed restaurant, D.O.M. is the genius of master chef Atala who pours his passion for the best into every dish served here. The restaurant focuses on authentic Brazilian ingredients, paying homage to small farmers, riverside communities and local produce. Considered one of the world’s best restaurants, try the tasting menu to fully experience its unique cuisine.
One must also mention some other amazing restaurants in Sao Paulo not to be missed. As the restaurant of one of the city’s top luxury hotels, Fasano Sao Paulo, Restaurant Fasano mixes contemporary design with true elegance. Since it opened in 1982, the restaurant has become known for its Italian fine dining experience. Spearheaded by chef Luca Gozzani, the kitchen specializes in scallop carpaccio with yogurt and crispy wild rice, and beef tongue carpaccio with mushroom, green sauce and pine nuts. Enjoy live piano music at the bar hosted each evening.
Mocotó is also celebrated far and wide. The restaurant’s specialties include pirarucu fish, and braised pork leg with corn couscous and roasted pumpkin. Rodrigo Oliveira heads up this gem, and started his legacy with his father at age 13. He studied gastronomy and since 2001 has been the head chef of the restaurant. He is considered one of the 100 most influential Brazilians, chef of the year, and gastronomic personality of the year.
Finally, Maní must not go unmentioned. Located in a former residence in the neighborhood of Jardim Paulistano, it has been named among the world’s best restaurants. Contemporary Brazilian-European fusion cuisine is its focus here, run by head Chef Helena Rizzo. Try the tasting menu or dine a la carte to try dishes like crayfish moqueca with rice terrine, beef cheeks with a puree of elephant ear leaves and marrow.
In Sao Paulo, you can find also find great nightlife, coupled with awesome food and drink. From popular music, to jazz to disco, the city has several entertainment districts that are lively all week long. Each are lined with bars, live music venues and nightclubs – as the nightlife runs 24 hours here! Vila Madalena, a hilly neighborhood on the west side of town, is home to an array of traditional Brazilian gastropubs (or botecos), featuring live samba bands. Upscale nightclubs in Itaim Bibi and neighboring Vila Olímpia, located at the south end of the city are also fun. In the center of town, gritty Centro and bustling Bela Vista are studded with happening nightspots as well. Try a caipirinha – Brazil’s most famous drink!
So, if you are a foodie like me, who loves to people watch, Sao Paulo is the city for you! The cuisine can’t be beat, and the local love for gastronomy is second to none. The wine and cocktails are amazing, paired perfectly with Brazil’s unique fare. No matter where you venture, Sao Paulo is arguably the most important food city in Latin America.