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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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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