Since the 1980s, this classic Jewish deli has been serving in the neighborhood of Jardins and has recently opened a new address in Pinheiros. While not limiting itself to being a burger joint (they serve an excellent pastrami sandwich as well as a superb beef tongue on rye), Z Deli has garnered a reputation for being one of the best spots in São Paulo to go for a quality burger.
Because of its popularity, both Z Delis are usually quite busy, so try to go for a seat at the counter instead of waiting an eternity for a table. Alternatively, if it’s a nice day, take your food outside and enjoy the sun with a burger and a cold draft beer.
They serve plenty of classics, but do not by any means miss out on the Black Burger, which is a patty topped with bone marrow and a roti sauce. It’s messy, and it’s heavenly. Have it with a side of Z Deli’s pastrami fries and thank us later.
Rua Haddock Lobo 1386, Jardins, São Paulo, Brazil, +55 11 3083 0021
Rua Francisco Leitão 16, Pinheiros, São Paulo, Brazil, +55 11 2305 2200
Opened in 2014, Holy Burger brought gourmet hamburgers to a traditionally popular part of São Paulo’s center. On a tight street filled with hole-in-the-wall student bars, this small burger joint has become a favorite of the city’s young crowd. All of their patties are made with a blend of beef chuck, short rib and brisket, giving an excellent consistency and flavor. The most popular sandwich is the Pony Line, a dry-aged hamburger topped with English cheddar cheese and a bacon and molasses glaze, all served on a New York-style onion roll.
The restaurant is small, so expect a wait if you’re going at dinner time. With outside seating, it is a great spot for a late lunch with one of their excellent selection of craft beers. Oh, and they deliver if you fancy staying in.
Rua Doutor Cesário Mota Junior 527, Vila Buarque, São Paulo, Brazil, +55 11 3214 1314
Hamburguer Do Seu Oswaldo
A São Paulo institution, Seu Oswaldo’s burger joint has been open since 1966 and serves a great ‘São Paulo-style’ burger at very fair prices. Located in the southern neighborhood of Ipiranga, a few blocks away from Parque da Independência, Seu Oswaldo is a classic São Paulo diner and, being so popular, there is always a queue. There are no menus, no french fries and they only accept cash – but don’t let this put you off, as Seu Oswaldo is an unmissable experience for any foodie in São Paulo.
The patties are thin, yet incredibly juicy and flavorful, and served with a delicious homemade tomato sauce and mayonnaise. Order an X-bacon salada (the Brazilian way of saying bacon cheeseburger), grab a spot at the counter and enjoy. You might want to order two if you’re hungry, after all, you’re only paying roughly US$4 for each sandwich, so go nuts.
Pão Com Carne
Located in the upmarket neighborhood of Itaim, Pão Com Carne (literally, ‘bread with meat’) has stood out as a no-nonsense burger joint serving delicious sandwiches at low prices. The front of the hole-in-the-wall restaurant boasts ‘burgers with no frills’, and that may be selling themselves short, as while they do serve an unpretentious hamburger, it is damn delicious.
There isn’t much to choose from on the menu (either a hamburger, cheeseburger or bacon cheeseburger) but all three are very impressive. Considering it is situated in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the city, being able to buy two burgers, fries and two drinks for R$46 (about US$14) makes this a great option for a quick lunch or a weekend dinner.
Rua Joaquim Floriano 595, Itaim Bibi, São Paulo, Brazil, +55 11 3589 6626
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St. Louis Burger Shop
Having opened in 2006, St. Louis was one of the pioneers of the popularization of gourmet burger joints in São Paulo. When most places in town served simple cheeseburgers, St. Louis came along with their thick, juicy patties and blew the competition out of the water. They have a good selection of gourmet burgers, with one of the house favorites being the Blue: a delicious 8 oz patty topped with arugula, blue cheese and a delicious homemade onion chutney. For vegetarians, they also do an excellent veggie burger which can be swapped in in the place of any of their regular beef burgers.
Rua Padre João Manuel 974, Jardins, São Paulo, Brazil, +55 11 2368 6192
Before you ask, yes, this place is named after the burger joint in Pulp Fiction. Actually, the whole restaurant is designed as an homage to Quentin Tarantino and his movies, all the way down to the menus, so it’s worth a visit if you’re a fan. Besides its fame as a Pulp Fiction theme bar, Big Kahuna gained a reputation in São Paulo for its extravagant, gravity-defying and altogether impractical burgers, such as the Bad Mother Fucker: two 8oz beef patties, cheddar, mozzarella, bacon, pickles, salad and three massive onion rings.
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Not satisfied with the Bad Mofo, last year they by all accounts took things too far with the Ezekiel 25:17: five quarter-pound patties, an abundance of bacon, cheddar, mozzarella, crispy onions and salad (pictured above). These things aside, if you go for the more conservative and manageable options on the menu, Big Kahuna actually serves some excellent and well thought-out burgers.
For bacon lovers, try the Bacon Porn burger (that seems a bit obvious…), an 8oz patty filled with Monterrey Jack cheese and wrapped in streaky bacon. It is as delicious as it sounds and has the added benefit of being edible with two hands.
Alameda Lorena 53, Jardins, São Paulo, Brazil, +55 11 3051 6268
With its main location in Vila Nova Conceição, close to Ibirapuera Park, Bullguer is a relatively new chain of São Paulo burger joints with a few addresses around the city. Influenced by Shake Shack, the restaurant has a distinctly laid-back atmosphere and is leading the smashed burger revolution in the city. If you don’t know what a smashed burger is, first of all, you must have spent the last year living on Mars, and second, it’s when cooks smash their patties directly on the grill, resulting in a thinner burger with a tasty crust on the outside. Bullguer certainly has the technique mastered.
A good call here is to go for the Lumberjack burger: two Black Angus patties, cheese, pickles, bacon and a delicious sauce.
Rua Diogo Jacome 606, Vila Nova Conceição, São Paulo, Brazil, +55 11 3044 2757
Frank & Charles
A favorite of the region, Frank & Charles has been open in Higienópolis for many years and has attracted a faithful customer base. Over time they have expanded their menu to include breakfast options, but don’t mess around here and stick to the burgers.
Frank & Charles prides itself on serving 100% Angus patties on freshly-made buns, meaning that no matter what you order, you’ll end up with a satisfying sandwich. They also have a delicious range of homemade mayonnaise used on several of their burgers, such as the basil mayo which accompanies their fries (you could eat this stuff with a spoon, honestly) or the Sriracha mayo which comes on the Jimmy Curry burger, accompanying a juicy beef patty, Monterrey Jack cheese and chimichurri.
If you’re looking for something a little more extravagant, go for their Cheese N’ Burger, a hamburger in between two grilled cheese sandwiches, à la secret menu at Five Guys.
Rua Tinhorão 130, Higienópolis, São Paulo, Brazil, +55 11 3624 8763
Underdog is an Argentinian barbecue and burger joint rolled into one, which, of course, can only mean one thing: you’re going to get some incredible burgers. This little place in Pinheiros is frankly tiny, meaning that more likely than not you will be eating al fresco. Underdog also doubles up as a bar though, so the space outside has a cool atmosphere.
The menu here is extremely uncomplicated. Go for the cheeseburger, which is simple and incredible, having been grilled on the parrilla right in front of you. The grillmaster is notoriously sniffy about the doneness of the meat, so only come here if you’re OK with medium-rare (bordering on rare) patties. Asking for anything above medium may result in a Soup Nazi-esque situation. You have been warned.
Burger Joint, the underground Manhattan chain known for its delicious, no-fuss burgers and walls covered in customers’ scrawls, hidden inside the Parker Meridien hotel, has opened a location in São Paulo. The idea is the same: there are the same graffitied walls, the same neon signs, and the same delicious burgers in an understated location. Order The Works and be happy.
Rua Bela Cintra 2116, Jardins, São Paulo, Brazil, +55 11 2495 1019