The Top 10 Churrascarias in Sao Paulo, Brazil

| © Hugo Brizard - YouGoPhoto/Shutterstock
Lise Alves

São Paulo is South America’s largest city – a thriving metropolis with a diverse culinary social scene. Renowned worldwide for the fine-dining steak houses, the city offers choices to last a lifetime of carnivorous dining. Churrascarias (barbecue restaurants) are a Brazilian tradition and we’ve found the very best in São Paulo that cater to all budgets and tastes.

1. Churrascaria Vento Haragano

Restaurant, Brazilian, Steakhouse

On the upper end of the price range, Churrascaria Vento Haragano is a picture of elegance and indulgence firmly rooted in the gaucho customs, with traditionally dressed waiters serving up the rodízio barbecue. The restaurant impresses from the moment you arrive when you will walk past a plush covered smoking area and through the entrance flanked by an imposing open flame over which meat is roasted.
Notable for both the quality and variety of meat and wines that have repeatedly won excellence awards, Vento Haragano also stuns with the level of decadence, comfort and sheer size of its facilities. The restaurant’s numerous rooms, including the wine alcove, are decked out with quaint wicker chairs alongside tasteful soft furnishings and specially commissioned artwork, all beneath high ceilings with exposed wooden beams. With gourmet specialties such as wild boar served with jabuticaba jelly and grilled mozzarella straight from the barbecue, it is easy to see why this churrascaria is overwhelmingly popular.

2. Fogão Gaúcho

Restaurant, Steakhouse, Brazilian

Fogão Gaúcho
Courtesy of Fogão Gaúcho

When you walk into Fogão Gaúcho you will feel like you are in a typical churrascaria in the interior of Rio Grande do Sul. Waiters, wearing typical ‘Brazilian cowboy’ clothes will bring you various cuts of meats at an amazing speed, which sometimes even makes it difficult for you to enjoy what you have on your plate. Side orders are also plentiful, with meat fritters and onion rings. There is also a nice salad bar and a sushi bar.

3. NB Steak

Restaurant, Brazilian

NB Steak | Courtesy of NB Steak
Courtesy of NB Steak
At the NB Steak churrascaria you can forget the old model in which waiters carry spits around the room without stopping. Although it is still an all-you-can-eat restaurant, the three units of the chain only serve picanha and skirt steak in the traditional churrascaria way. The other ten cuts are served on plates at the requested meat point. At the NB steakhouses you have from Argentine-style chorizo and ancho steaks to pork ribs and lamb chops. To complement the carnivorous meal there are salads and side dishes which are also served individually at the table.

4. Templo da Carne Marcos Bassi

Restaurant, Brazilian, Italian

Left to right: courtesy of Marcos Bassi
courtesy Larissa Januário
Named after the founder and owner, this temple of meat has food critics lauding Marcos Bassi as deserving of a knighthood for ‘making butchery a noble craft’. Bassi possesses an immense expertise of all things meaty, showcased not only in the churrascaria but also during his regular radio show. Supermarkets sell his very own signature dishes and branded products, such as bom-bom,which is a cut of beef taken from special rump steak. Locals flock from across the city to buy these rare delicacies, but the true Bassi experience is to be had at the restaurant. Guests can order dishes like three different cuts of meat ‘Italian style’, fire-roasted beef chorizo steak cooked with chili, and many more varieties of carnal indulgence.

5. Figueira Rubaiyat

Restaurant, Mediterranean, Seafood

Meticulous thought and taste has gone into every detail of Figueira Rubaiyat, from the chairs crafted out of timber from the Rubaiyat farm, to the highest quality home-reared beef. The centerpiece of this establishment is the 130-year-old fig tree in the middle of the dining area, whose branches have been worked into the ceiling design, and whose name is lent to that of the restaurant. The expansive space creates an illusion of al fresco dining, bestowing a romantic atmosphere onto those dining under a transparent roof.
In addition to their famed premium sirloin steak, the restaurant serves popular delicacies such as carpaccio di funghi in truffle oil, pães de queijo and local tucunaré, tambaqui and pirarucu fish. Twice a week guests are offered a special version of Brazil’s national dish: feijoada (pork and black bean stew). The attentive service complements the menu and marks the restaurant out as a must-try in the city.

6. Barbacoa

Restaurant, Bar, Brazilian, Steakhouse

Barbacoa’s tagline, ‘so much more than meat’, is undeniable, but its emphasis is nonetheless placed on the range of beef, lamb, chicken and pork showcased in a variety of special cuts. The all-you-can-eat rodízio buffet is expensive, but there is seemingly no end to the tasty dishes on offer. It starts with caipirinhas served at the bar and accompanied by mini sausages, and moves on to the meat and delicious salads at the main buffet.
Barbacoa takes its inspiration from the ancient tradition of social celebrations centered around fire-grilled beef, but has somehow succeeded in modernizing the ritual to create a sophisticated yet welcoming atmosphere. Guests can sample unusual options such as the cupim cut of beef (the hump of the brahma steer) and picanha de bola (special rump steak cut diagonally against the grain). Completing the wide variety of options are the regional specialities of Amazonian fish, an impressive bi-weekly feijoada spread, named as the best in the city, a unique collection of world beer, and an award-winning list of wines.

7. Fogo de Chão

The most famous churrascaria in the country, and one of the most loved, Fogo de Chão is a Brazilian institution, with three branches in the city, many more across the country and others even further afield in the United States. The franchise is owned by gaúchos from the cattle farms of south Brazil, and their dedication to excellent beef clearly shows in the resulting food on offer, which includes only the best Brazilian cuts.
The meal starts with an explanation of the dining experience, which begins with a trip to the elaborate salad buffet before indulging in the main event. Guests are then provided with a double-sided red/green card, indicating a desire to ‘go ahead’ with meat service, or to pause the service for a little breathing space. The gaucho chefs carve 16 varieties of fire-roasted beef straight onto guests’ plates, continuing to do so for as long as the card is green side up. Fogo de Chão has five locations in Sao Paulo alone, with the newly renovated Santo Amaro, complete with 8000 different wines on offer, being a particular favorite.
Fogo de Chão – Santo Amaro, Av. Santo Amaro, 6824 – Santo Amaro, São Paulo, Brazil, +55 11 5524 0500

8. Montana Grill

Restaurant

More than 20 years ago, the brothers Chitãozinho & Xororó (two famous Brazilian country musicians) expanded their professional pursuits beyond singing and farming and founded Montana Grill. Taking on the style of the large family-run diners of the countryside, what the restaurant lacks in sophistication it makes up for in gastronomy. The service is flawlessly attentive, and the meat itself is clearly the product of two men who know their cattle. Situated in the chic neighborhood of Itaim Bibi, this traditional eatery is the most pure of dining experiences, intimately connected with the gaucho traditions of meat, music and family enterprises.
Montana Grill, Avenida Presidente Juscelino Kubitschek, 816 – Vila Nova Conceição, São Paulo, Brazil, +55 11 3078 0999

9. Jardineira Grill

Restaurant, Bar, Steakhouse, Brazilian

Jardineira Grill
Courtesy of Jardineira Grill
This churrascaria not only has spectacular meats, but also one of the best salad bars of any steakhouse in São Paulo which includes seafood entrees such as smoked haddock and cod fish, and a sushi bar. There are also Middle Eastern food attractions such as tabule and hummus to accompany the more than 20 cuts of quality meats served by dozens of waiters with spits.

10. Rodeio

One of the very first churrascarias in the city, Rodeio has developed a legacy for serving São Paulo’s elite socialites. Located in the luxury Iguatemi mall, it was designed by famous architect Isay Weinfeld, and offers a wide array of meat and sides, including the unique sliced picanha, invented in-house, and the accompanying special rodeio rice, fried with bacon, eggs, butter and spices. Other twists on classic dishes include their distinctive style of pão de queijo (cheese bread) and the unusual concentrated ‘beef tea’ soup. For dessert, be sure to try the papaya and cassis crème, another chef’s special.
Rodeio Iguatemi, Piso Térreo, Shopping Iguatemi, Avenida Brigadeiro Faria Lima, Jardim Paulistano, São Paulo, Brazil, +55 11 2348 1111

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