Reasons Why Belo Horizonte Is the Culinary Capital of Brazil

Belo Horizonte
Belo Horizonte | © Benjamin Thompson/WikiCommons
Sarah Brown

As the capital of Brazil‘s Minas Gerais, a state defined by its rustic and slow-cooked food, Belo Horizonte is teeming with wonderful restaurants and intriguing markets that capture the region’s best cuisines. Minas Gerais food is all about soul-warming ingredients served in hearty portions, and there is no better place to try it than Belo Horizonte.

1. Cantina do Lucas

Restaurant, Brazilian, Italian, South American, Beer, Wine

This veteran restaurant clings to its decorations of the past, creating a faintly nostalgic setting. Catina do Lucas is the type of place that maintains a loyal group of regulars who have been stopping by to eat for years. Expect to see local musicians, film producers, and writers here. It’s renowned for its generous portions and heaps of feel-good food. Try the picanha (a typical cut of Brazilian beef) served with fried banana, chips, and a large fried egg.

2. Bar Patorocco

Bar, Restaurant, Brazilian, Beer, Wine, Cocktails

Bar Patorocco blends the definition between bar and restaurant as guests flock there as much for the chilled beer as they do the solid pub food. The menu offerings are typically Mineiro (anything from Minas Gerais) food yet with a slightly creative flair, with options such as crispy pork scratchings with pineapple sauce. A popular choice and one that works particularly well with a good beer are the beef and cream cheese pastries.

3. Xapuri

Restaurant, Brazilian, Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-free, Street Food

For an authentic experience of Minas Gerais food, it’s hard to imagine a better place than Xapuri. Set inside a farmhouse barn, the rustic building features breezy open sides, a charming thatched roof, and sturdy wooden tables. The menu options wonderfully represent why Mineiro food is so beloved, with mouthwatering choices such as caramelised banana, slow-cooked beef with a rich gravy, and a pumpkin filled with tender dried meat.

4. Casa Amora

Restaurant, Brazilian, Contemporary, Healthy, Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-free

The light and breezy interior of Casa Amora is much like a fresh spring’s day, with soft grey walls providing a backdrop to yellow chairs and tables draped in white cloths. The lunch-only menu provides a simple option of three types of meat or fish served with salad and rice, or a diverse buffet menu that allows diners to sample a variety of healthy eating options such as baked sweet potatoes and thick toasted bread with smoked salmon, cream cheese, and avocado.

5. Mercado Central

Farmers' Market, Market, Food Stall, Farm Shop, Brazilian, Vegetarian

A famous landmark in Belo Horizonte, the Mercado Central is a maze of stalls, bars, and places to eat that sell wonderful local produce. Look out for the locally-produced doce de leite (sweet milk), soft homemade cheese, guava paste, and regional cachaça. One of the most popular bar and restaurants there is Casa Cheia, which offers traditional Minas Gerais food such as soup with chunks of smoked sausage and pork ribs, served with cheese and spinach. For an indulgent treat, try the pork scratchings with a chilled beer.

6. Choperia Krug Bier

Bar, Brazilian, Beer, Wine, Cocktails, Pub Grub

Choperia Krug Bier produces its own beer and has been doing so since 1994 when it became the first microbrewery in Belo Horizonte. In addition to its smooth beer, the food is what draws the crowds in with a menu that ranges from classic Minas Gerais food such as slow-cooked pork knuckle to more Western style options such as buffalo wings.

7. Mercearia 130

Restaurant, Brazilian, Italian, Wine, Beer

Mercearia 130 serves traditional Brazilian food with a contemporary twist, mixing Minas Gerais traditions with modern style. Great menu options include slow-roasted pork ribs with a thick layer of crispy crackling, fish served with risotto, deep-fried fish with a tangy lemon sauce, and sophisticated options such as the melt-in-your-mouth steak tartare.

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