10 Cultural Restaurants In São Paulo You Will Love

São Paulo is one of the most populated cities in the world and the largest in South America / PIxabay
São Paulo is one of the most populated cities in the world and the largest in South America / PIxabay
Oreste Giorgio Spinelli

São Paulo is one of the most populated cities in the world and the largest in South America. The contrasts that suffuse the city shine through in its cultural, as well as culinary scene. São Paulo offers high-end fusion cuisine, simple and cheap eats, and anything in between. These ten cultural restaurants reflect the city and the country beyond the Brazilian barbecue.

1. Hocca Bar

Restaurant, Brazilian, Beer

Hocca Bar - Mercadão, São Paulo
© Hocca Bar

Located in the bustling Mercado Municipal, Hocca Bar is a mandatory stop for all those who visit São Paulo. The specialty dish is the mortadella bellissimo, a huge sandwich filled with mortadella and overflowing with cheese. Although its origins can be traced back to Italy, over time this cured pork sausage has become one of the culinary symbols of São Paulo, mostly thanks to Hocca Bar and similar restaurants. As each sandwich is filled with 400 grams of sliced meat, finishing the mortadella bellissimo is a challenge for most. Hocca Bar is extremely popular with tourists and locals alike, and often very crowded, but the friendly service and the legendary sandwiches make it well worth the wait.

2. Sarrasin

Restaurant, French, Vegetarian, Gluten-free

Sarrasin, São Paulo
© Sarrasin

Nestled in a quiet neighborhood of São Paulo, Sarrasin is considered to be the crown jewel of the city’s French-inspired restaurants. It takes its name from the main ingredient of its galettes, a type of crêpe made with buckwheat or sarrasin flour. From the main courses to the desserts, each galette offers an exciting combination of flavor: the Bergerac, for example, combines goat cheese with toasted almonds and honey; while the Sartre is filled with steamed shrimp, champignon sauce, apricots, ginger and curry. Like every other dish, the desserts are also named after illustrious French personalities. What better way to end a fabulous dinner than to share a crêpe à la Saint-Exupéry, deliciously filled with seasonal berries, whipped cream, homemade chocolate ice cream, almonds and caramelized cocoa?

3. Varanda

Restaurant, Steakhouse, Brazilian

Varanda, Rua General Mena Barreto
© Varanda

The owners of Varanda claim to serve the finest meat in São Paulo, and those who dine here tend to agree. Since it first opened 15 years ago, this steakhouse has garnered acclaim and popularity, becoming one of the most renowned restaurants in Brazil. The meats are classified according to their place of origin, so during the same meal guests can taste quality cuts from Argentina, Brazil and the United States. The wine list is second to none in São Paulo, while the polite and competent staff will suggest the best wine to pair with each meal. The hardwood floors and the leather chairs accentuate the elegance of the restaurant’s earthy décor, creating an all-round memorable experience.

4. D.O.M.

Bar, Restaurant, Contemporary, Fusion, Brazilian, Vegetarian

© Rubens Kato

Having been ranked sixth in S. Pellegrino’s list of The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, and considered the best restaurant in Brazil for several consecutive year, D.O.M. offers São Paulo’s leading culinary experience. Owner Alex Atala is in equal parts chef, historian and botanist, and thanks to his knowledge he was able to bring back some of the most traditional flavors of Brazilian cuisine, while reinventing and adapting them to contemporary needs and tastes. Every detail of this restaurant is planned to perfection, from the elegant and cozy décor to the friendly and attentive service and, of course, the excellent food. The best way to experience the full spectrum of D.O.M.’s gastronomy is the tasting menu, a selection of four or eight of Chef Atala’s best creations.

5. Manì

Restaurant, Brazilian, South American, Contemporary

Maní, São Paulo
© Manì

An elegant side street of Pinheiros, one of São Paulo’s nicest neighbourhoods, is home to Manì, an incredibly innovative culinary venue. Chefs Daniel Redondo and Helena Rizzo created a menu that uses local ingredients and a mix of Catalan and French haute cuisine. From starters such as the guacamole bonbons with corn biscuits, or the octopus sticks with potato confit and sweet paprika, to the famous feijoada, a typical Brazilian stew with beans and pork, and the coconut panna cotta with rum and white chocolate ice cream; Manì’s menu offers delicious surprises at every turn. With its intriguing menu, excellent choice of wines and stylish décor, Manì is the ideal choice for fine dining in São Paulo.

6. Suri

Restaurant, Bar, Seafood, Peruvian

Suri Ceviche Bar, São Paulo
© Suri

Made with fresh fish, cured with lemon or lime juice and served with chili peppers, ceviche is one of the best cold dishes of traditional Southern American cuisine. After years of experience in the kitchens of some of Brazil’s most renowned restaurants, Chef Dagoberto Torres fulfilled his lifelong dream of opening his own cevicheria in São Paulo. At Suri, guests can sample his non-traditional approach to the art of the ceviche. Octopus, shrimp and a wide variety of white fish are only some of the main ingredients of Suri’s ceviches. The cool modern décor and the quality of its affordable dishes make Suri one of São Paulo’s favorite restaurants, especially among younger crowds.

7. Goshala

Restaurant, Asian, Indian, Vegetarian, Brazilian

7. Goshala
© Goshala
Goshala takes its name form the Sanskrit word for ‘cow sanctuary’. The word has a special significance for the restaurant which, of course, serves vegetarian, Indian-inspired Brazilian dishes. Great attention to detail is given to the choice of the ingredients; the licuri nuts, for example, come from a sustainable project in Bahia, while fruit and vegetables all come from local farms. The wide selection of the menu is complemented by the prato do dìa, or dish of the day, which offers new and interesting options on a daily basis. With its homey yet eclectic décor and unique take on Brazilian cuisine, Goshala is a real treat for vegetarians visiting São Paulo.

8. Consulado Mineiro

Restaurant, Brazilian

Consulado Mineiro, Praça Benedito Calixto
© Consulado Mineiro
Consulado Mineiro has become a local institution, known for the high quality of its food, the friendly and chatty staff and the affordable prices. It is an excellent choice for those who want a taste of homemade Brazilian delicacies. The restaurant serves dishes similar to those that Brazil’s miners would eat after a long day of work. Beans, meat stews, sausages, eggs and other protein-heavy ingredients feature prominently on the menu. The servings are very generous and meant to be shared between two or three people. On sunny days, the restaurant serves lunch outside, making it a fun choice for a Saturday or Sunday brunch.

9. Manacà

Restaurant, Brazilian, Seafood, Mediterranean

Lost amid the luxuriant vegetation of the Atlantic Forest, Manacà stands out both for its food and its superlative caipirinhas. The restaurant is found in São Sebastião, a quiet town in the northern part of São Paulo. Considered to be the best restaurant of the entire coastal area, Manacà is one of the main destinations for paulista foodies. The private shuttle service that takes the guests to the restaurant is the first part of a unique and immersive experience. The menu offers a wide variety of seafood dishes and some interesting takes on traditional Brazilian cuisine to be enjoyed in the tropical setting of the Atlantic Forest.

10. Kaà

Restaurant, Brazilian, Mediterranean, European

KAA Restaurant, São Paulo
© Kaà

The best new restaurant in 2010 according to Wallpaper* Magazine, Kaà will amaze even the most discerning cultured traveler with its interior décor and style choices. From the skylight that opens on sunny days to the lush Amazonian-inspired vertical gardens and the low-key designer furniture, Kaà is a feast for the eyes and for the palate. This wonderful setting is the perfect environment to enjoy the innovative creations of chefs Paulo Barros and Massimo Barletti, which match the décor in terms of freedom and freshness.

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