Jardim Paulista, often known simply as Jardins, is one of Sao Paulo’s swankiest neighborhoods. With its leafy, hilly streets, mind-blowing mansions, fancy cocktail bars and high-end fashion boutiques, you know you’ve made it when you can afford to live here. Unsurprisingly, the neighborhood is also home to the vast majority of Sao Paulo’s best restaurants.
Sao Paulo’s only restaurant with two Michelin stars, D.O.M. is one of the best places in the world to eat. Led by renowned Brazilian chef Alex Atala, D.O.M. serves an incredible variety of unique national dishes with an inventive and contemporary flair. Atala seeks to make use of oft-overlooked ingredients from Brazil’s Amazon region, providing diners with flavors they will never have experienced before.
As is to be expected for genuine haute cuisine, dinner at D.O.M. doesn’t come cheap. Atala works exclusively with a tasting menu, with prices varying between R$450 ($140) and R$560 ($175) per head. Don’t miss out on the fettuccine made out of hearts of palm, or the pirarucu fish with açaí.
Always near the top of lists of the best restaurants in Sao Paulo, Figueira Rubaiyat is well known for serving delicious Brazilian and Argentinian food in an elegant and unforgettable setting. The restaurant is named after the hundred-year-old banyan fig tree which grows in the middle of the dining room, and the entire restaurant is built around it, providing a wonderfully tranquil and natural feel to the diner’s experience.
The food does take second place to the majesty of the restaurant itself, but there are some very tasty highlights, such as the seafood platter and the freshly baked breads and charcuterie served as appetizers.
As an added curiosity, Figueira Rubaiyat is the only restaurant in Sao Paulo to have featured in an episode of The Simpsons.
Tordesilhas is one of the best places in Jardins (and possibly in the whole of Sao Paulo) to get a taste for the incredible variety that Brazilian cuisine has to offer. With dishes from all over the country, from the rich and hearty traditions of Minas Gerais and the spicy and exciting seafood of the northeast, to the rarely seen cuisine of Amazonas, dinner at Tordesilhas is a voyage across Brazilian gastronomy.
The house specialty is a classic Amazonian dish called tacacá, a delicious seafood broth made with a manioc extract called tucupi, jambu (a green leaf from the Amazon that numbs the tongue slightly), and dried shrimp. Tacacá is served hot, but gives an oddly cooling and refreshing sensation upon eating.
The variety of meat and wine and the quality of their specialty options (the boar with jabuticaba jam is incredible and very sought after by punters) make Vento Haragano the place to go in Sao Paulo for a classic Brazilian barbecue experience.
If you’re looking to rub shoulders with Sao Paulo high society, Spot is the place to go. This gorgeous restaurant, only one block from Paulista Avenue, is always filled with actors, models, and other celebrities, making a table there one of the hottest tickets in town.
While the ambience and design are certainly Spot’s main selling points, the food is more than up to scratch. With a large menu based mainly on grilled meats and pasta dishes, the most popular order is the penne with melon and prosciutto, a classic combination executed to perfection by Spot’s chefs.
Housed in the ground floor of the luxury hotel of the same name, Fasano is easily one of Sao Paulo’s best Italian restaurants, serving excellent food from the north of the country in an exquisite yet comfortable environment. While the focus is certainly on tradition, with plenty of classic Italian options on the menu, Fasano also offers a 5-course tasting menu with some more inventive, contemporary takes on traditional Italian ingredients and dishes.
Unlike churrascarias such as the aforementioned Vento Haragano, Varanda is a good old-fashioned steakhouse, serving cuts of beef from all around the world in a lovely setting. No all-you-can-eat here, just excellent meat, cooked to perfection by chef Fábio Lazzarini.
Another strong point of Varanda is its incredible wine list, with over 400 varieties that you can pair with your meal. Recently, the restaurant has also started offering a seven-course tasting menu, complete with wine pairings handpicked by their award-winning chief sommelier, Tiago Locatelli.
A Bela Sintra is Sao Paulo’s best and most popular Portuguese restaurant, a type of cuisine that is crucial to the Paulistano gastronomy scene. Many of the house specialties are made with bacalhau, the dried salt cod that is common in Portuguese cuisine.
The most popular dish is the Bacalhau à Lagareiro, where the cod is served as a steak on a bed of garlic, onions, broccoli, olives and crushed potatoes. However, for something a bit more daring, go for the Mil Folhas de Bacalhau, which is an inventive cod mille-feuille filled with cream, shiitake mushrooms, and spinach.
Nino Cucina achieves the rare feat of combining the atmosphere of a traditional Italian cantina with Michelin-star-level cooking. While the decoration is beautiful, the poor acoustics of the restaurant create an animated (and frankly, noisy) buzz about the dining room. This isn’t necessarily a negative point, as the atmosphere is welcoming and invigorating. Also, any qualms you may have about the ambience will wash away as soon as your food arrives.
Serving classic and indulgent pasta dishes with generous portion sizes, Nino Cucina may well be the best-quality Italian food you can find in Sao Paulo. The linguine with burrata and lemon is particularly special, as is the carbonara. Make sure you save room for dessert, too.
Middle Eastern food is incredibly popular in Sao Paulo, not least because the city has a long history of welcoming Syrian and Lebanese immigrants throughout the 20th century. However, Middle Eastern cuisine here has undergone a process of Brazilification, often losing its traditional roots and becoming something more tailored to the local palette.
There are some places that maintain the ways of genuine Middle Eastern cooking, such as Jardins’ Arábia, one of the best Lebanese restaurants in Sao Paulo. The menu includes a number of delicious mezze dishes, including an excellent raw kibbeh and beef fatayer.
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