Everything happens in São Paulo first. If there is a trend across Brazil or Latin America, chances are it began in the city or Paulistanos adopted it early. Like the culinary worlds of New York or Paris, São Paulo’s food scene sits at the cutting edge.
Chefs have flocked to the city, bringing Michelin-starred techniques from culinary capitals in Europe to Brazil’s extensive native pantry. Ingredients like manioc, cashew fruit, and giant Amazonian pirarucu fish not only enthrall guests but show off the country’s edible bounty. São Paulo’s cultural melting pot is always bubbling as well. A recent wave of Lebanese and Syrian immigrants have renewed interest in restaurants serving cuisine from the region, like Brasserie Victoria. Italian food is omnipresent in every corner of the city, but it gains new life on the tasting menu at Evvai. Brazil is also home to the largest Japanese population outside Japan, most of it in São Paulo, where it’s easy to find Japanese pastéis, izakayas, and sushi.
For decades, the best restaurants clustered in neighborhoods like Pinheiros, Itaim Bibi, and Jardins, but street traffic has helped spur change. In one of the most populous cities in the world, getting across town is a serious challenge, incentivizing restaurateurs to set up shop in new areas with captive audiences. Diners can find exciting new restaurants in Barra Funda, where Korean restaurants mix with hipster shops, and the nostalgic Tatuapé community, which rarely registered as a blip on the gourmand radar until recently.
With a sprawling, traffic-clotted metropolis to explore, you’ll need some help finding the best spots to eat. Here are the essential eating experiences you need to have in São Paulo now.
Rafael Tonon is a journalist and food writer living between Brazil and Portugal. He is the author of the book The Food Revolutions.Read More