São Paulo is known for being South America’s financial hub, and thus has a very large number of restaurants and bars that cater to both residents and visitors alike. Below are some of the trendier, most popular bars for those spending a few days or weeks in the city.
Bar, Cocktail Bar, Tapas, Pub Grub, Wine, Beer, Cocktails, Spanish, Snacks, $$$
Inspired by the bohemian elegance of Barcelona, The Gràcia Bar occupies a privileged location in the stylish Pinheiros neighbourhood, almost in front of the Tomie Otake institute. It’s a great place to meet friends or make new ones as several themed lounges accompany the main seating area and balcony across over 400 square meters of space. Most of the menu is made up of tapas, the typical Spanish snack, with favourites being brie cheese served with honey, or the garlic bread with ham – all to be appreciated with one of the 15 different sangria recipes available here. Created with sake, sparkling or white, rosé or red wines, there’s something for everyone to be thankful for at The Gràcia Bar.
If there were a ranking for São Paulo’s most unpretentious bar, Pitico would certainly be among the top three. Essentially made up of several large containers in an open space that once housed a parking lot, customers are invited to lounge on folding chairs typically reserved for the beach and share community tables. Catering to the 20-something generation, the bar cuts on costs by not having waitstaff, meaning customers must go up to one of the container structures to order food and drinks. Despite a limited menu and no-frills approach, Pitico has neverthless become a hit with São Paulo residents and visitors alike due to its convivial atmosphere and fun-loving crowds. There is also a grocery store with products from local family-owned farms and a stage for events. Pitico does not serve Coca-Cola, but does have organic guarana for those who prefer non-alcoholic drinks.
Thought to have one of the most extensive beer selections in the city, Emporio Alto dos Pinheiros delivers on its reputation with a wall-to-wall display of tempting brews. Customers are encouraged to choose from over 700 brands of beers and pick it up themselves from one of the refrigerated shelves. There are also 33 different types of beer on tap. For those a little uneasy, however, waiters are prepared to talk about brands and ensure drinkers make the right choice to pair beer and glass. In addition to the beer, another highlight of the bar is their food selection. Options range from starters to complement the drinks, to full-course meals.
If some places in the city are known for their cold beer, Astor is known for its cocktails. With a menu that features a parade of colourful drinks and a vintage-leaning décor of white tiles and antique mirrors, Astor is a bohemian throwback for customers nostalgic for the 1950s and 1960s. It is frequented by a more mature audience who enjoys nightlife and can spend a little more. Friends meeting for an after-work drink sit side by side with regular customers who have bottles of whiskey with their name on it, waiting to be consumed at the bar. Astor’s cuisine is another factor that attracts customers, with tasty snacks, steaks and sandwiches. The filet mignon strip with onions is considered to be one of the best in town.
The scent of barbecue emanating from the tables at Bar do Juarez leaves little doubt as to what keeps customers coming back for more: picanha. Meat arrives almost raw to the table and is cooked in front of the customers, and is accompanied by farofa, vinaigrette sauce and Italian bread. The original idea was to recreate the bohemian atmosphere of the last century, but the bar now caters to those wanting to enjoy happy hour and those who come to watch wednesday night football with friends.
First located in Rua Augusta through 2015, Z Carniceria opened in 2016 at Largo da Batata in a more rustic environment. With high ceiling beams, the restaurant combines the vibe of a barn with a butcher shop, as old photos and bullheads hang on the walls. The crowds come for the drinks and the weekend live band shows. Located in what was once one of São Paulo’s premiere concert venues, Z Carniceria now caters to a younger crowd and features Brazilian independent bands that are just starting out. The stage is found behind a stable door, which opens only at show time. Although there is a good selection of cold beers, the highlights of the house are their exclusive drinks. We recommend a mix of gin, lime and ginger or rum, lime, beer and molasses.
The São Paulo Tap House bar has more than 40 types of draft beers produced by some of the best breweries in Brazil. Opened in November of 2015, it set out to be the largest showcase of Brazilian artisan breweries in São Paulo. In addition to two sizes of draft (150ml and 330ml) the house offers a tasting menu where customers are given a beer flight of 4 different brands chosen by the house. The options are changed weekly, depending on seasonal beer releases and special editions. In addition to the beer options, there are snacks such as their famous mini bolovos (scotch eggs), meat or cheese pastels, and cheese and meat platters.
Bar, Pub Grub, Wine, Beer, Cocktails, Fast Food, Brazilian, South American, $$$
If making friends is your objective then Itaim Bibi’s Vaca Veia is the place to go. The upscale bar usually fills up by happy hour with young executives and by 10pm crowds are already spilling out into the streets. The atmosphere is relaxed and many of those who are unable to find a place to sit inside usually resort to drinking standing up, near the life-sized and colourful fibreglass cow purchased by owners from the first São Paulo Cow Parade (where cows painted by local artists were placed in strategic locations around the city). To accompany the drinks the house has a menu filled with light fare from quiches to sandwiches and salads.
It seems like everyone visiting or living in São Paulo wants to stop by Frank’s – so expect to wait an hour on weekends to sample the cocktail menu concocted by bartender extraordinaire Spencer Amereno Jr. The maestro works as if he were a kitchen chef, selecting the best products and thinking thoroughly about the presentation of his beverage creations. And if the bartender is not at the counter when you are ordering your drink, no need to worry. The staff reproduces his margaritas perfectly, and the same goes for his gin martinis. If you feel adventurous try the CMT (sherry, tonic, cashew juice, Japanese basil shissô and Thai ginger) or the Northeastern breakfast (cocoa, coffee, butter, egg and Jim Beam Black bourbon). The bar is located inside the Maksoud Plaza Hotel.
This 1920s mansion has become one of Itaim Bibi’s most popular bars. The atmosphere of follows a tropical thread with pistachio green walls, decorative banana bunches hung amongst the interior and foliage-print wallpaper. Voted in 2016 as the best bar to hook up, the Banana Café has become an instant hit with young executives and university students who spill out from the crowded interior into the gardens located at each end of the house. If one is feeling adventurous there is even an adult swing in one of the larger trees. The space also houses a coffee truck, which opens during the summer weekends with a special menu of breakfast food.