About this blog
Thrill of Brazil is a travel blog all about Brazil written by Moon Brazil author Michael Sommers. Michael blogs about Brazil travel, culture, and more. He welcomes questions, comments, and story ideas.
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- Making House Calls in Rio (Part II)
- Making House Calls in Rio (Part I)
- The Dawning of Brazil's B&B Age
- Rio's Alternative Points of View
- Taxi Trouble in Santa Teresa
- Obamas Take to the Campaign Trail in Brazil
- Plans and Punctuality
- Reliving Tropicalismo - On and Off Screen
- Food and Lodging that Make the Grade
- The Making of Moon Living Abroad in Brazil
- U.S. is Number One Source of Immigrants to Brazil
- Best English-Language Blogs about Brazil
Foodies-on-a-Budget Guide to São Paulo
São Paulo is famed for its restaurant scene, but prices to taste dishes dreamed up by some of the city’s top chefs can tend toward hefty, particularly with the current exchange rate. Happily, in recent years, many super-starred restaurants have begun offering prix fixe menus executivos during weekday lunch (Mon.-Fri. except where noted below).
While the offerings are pared down (usually limited to 1-2 entrees) and the ingredients aren’t too rarefied (don’t expect foie gras), such menus offer foodies on a budget the opportunity to savor some of the city’s (and country’s) best cuisine at bargain basement prices – with the added bonus that there won’t be anything basement-like about the ambiance.
Below is a sampling of 10 edible experiences, located in various areas of the city, which will stimulate your taste buds without breaking the bank (hours and addresses are included in links):
Recent years have seen the exciting development of a new Brazilian cuisine in which a young generation of chefs apply European methods and techniques to the often unexplored homegrown traditions and exotic bounty of Brazil. Some of the most daring culinary experiments take place in São Paulo:
D.O.M. – Considered one of the best restaurants in Brazil, D.O.M. is the beautifully designed, Jardins flagship restaurant of Alex Atala, a former punk and D.J. who, as a pioneer of Brazilian haute cuisine, has become a mega celebrity chef. The R$53 menu is much tamer than the full-blown offerings, but it gets you a starter along with a salad and simple, but tasty main course. Chances are you’ll be enticed to splurge for a dessert such as the banana ravioli topped with tangerine sorbet and passion fruit sauce.
Dalva e Dito – Opened in 2009 by Atala, this more rustic restaurant, also in Jardins, revisits the robust Brazilian comfort food made by the chef’s mother and grandmother. R$47 buys you unlimited trips to a “meat table” laden with roast pork and rotisserie chickens along with garnishes such as feijão (beans), sautéed kale, fried bananas, and farofa (toasted manioc flour).
Brasil à Gosto – Having steeped herself in culinary traditions from all over Brazil, Ana Luiza Trajano revitalizes classic recipes at this airy Jardins restaurant. Aside from an original couvert (featuring pumpkin bread and Amazonian baru nut butter), the R$38 menu includes an appetizer, entrée, and dessert. (Tues.-Fri.)
Tordesilhas – Another celebrated female chef who’s received acclaim for her take on Brazilian regional fare is Mara Salles. The 3-course R$31 menu at this warm Jardins restaurant features daily dishes that seek to elevate basic, home-cooked fare such as feijoada and rabada (oxtail stew) with watercress to new heights. (Tues.-Fri.)
São Paulo is South America’s version of New York, an ethnic melting pot where newcomers from around the globe have left an indelible mark upon the city via their culinary traditions. Although you’ll find plenty of cheap, delicious, and authentic ethnic food options, here are some of the top restaurants representing some of Sampa’s most prominent immigrant groups:
AK Delicatessen – Rising young chef Andrea Kaufmann breathes new life into European and Middle Eastern Jewish culinary classic in this cozy mansion in Higienópolis, traditional home to Sampa’s significant Jewish population. The R$29 menu features options such as verenikes, bureks, and even couscous. (Tues.-Fri.)
Bacalhoeiro – Far from the madding gourmet crowds of Jardins and Itaim Bibi, this Portuguese restaurant in the somewhat far-flung bairroof Tataupé is an oasis with sky-high glass ceilings and vertical gardens. True to its name, the specialty is bacalhau (cod); the R$49 menu features various versions prepared by acclaimed chef Francisco Everaldo da Silva.
eñe– Twin brothers Sergio and Javier Torres’ ultra-contemporary Spanish restaurant in trendy Itaim Bibi has won international raves for its inventive food, much of which is vacuum-cooked at low pressure in a Gastrovac machine (invented by the brothers) in order to preserves natural flavors and colors. The R$39 menu traffics in tapa-like appetizers and main courses such as fideuá, a paella made with slender noodles.
Kinoshita – Due to its sizable Japanese population, Sampa is a great place for Japanese food. This sumptuous restaurant, not far from Parque do Ibirapuera, and presided over by Tsuyoshi Murakami, is one of the best. The R$49 take menu allows you to choose a starter along with a salad, five sashimi, a hot entrée, and dessert (the green tea mousse is pretty divine).
La Casserole – This deliciously untrendy French bistro recently celebrated 50 years of existence. The retro dining room is charming as is the location, right in front of the Largo do Arouche’s flower market. The R$42 menu features classics such as duck confit and fresh fish with leeks, and chocolate mousse crepes. (Tues.-Fri.)
Pomodori – Operating one of the finest Italian restaurants in a city where 60 percent of the population boasts some Italian descent is no mean feat, but chef/owner Jefferson Ruedo has succeeded, due in part to his celebrated handmade pasta. The 3-course R$49 menu is preceded by delicious antipasti.