A quick guide to dining in São Paulo

São Paulo is a high energy city known for the diversity of cultures that it brings together.
Feijoada picture, Sao Paulo, Brazil tours
Don't miss out on this tasty stew of various meats, black beans, and veggies. Adapted from Portugal, feijoada has become Brazil's national dish.

Today we shift our South American food focus from Peru to Brazil and specifically to São Paulo. This high energy city is known for the diversity of cultures that it brings together; it has been the focal point of migration from the south, north, and west of Brazil, as well as immigration from Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. In short, São Paulo, also known as “the city that can’t stop” and as the New York City of South America, is a perfect base from which to launch on a culinary-based Brazil tour.

Churrasco, travel to Brazil

Be sure to check out a churrascaria (or two) on your next Brazil vacation.

First, few basic terms to help you on this leg of your Brazil vacation:

Churrasco: The south of Brazil may be the seat of gaucho and meat-grilling culture, but São Paulo has its fair share of steakhouses. “Churrascaria” is the name for a steakhouse; “churrasquiera” is the actual grilling apparatus; and “churrasco” can refer to any grilled meat, including various cuts of beef as well as chicken, pork, lamb, and sausage.

Rodizio: Churrascarias usually serve in a style called rodizio or espeto corrido. The term refers to fixed-price, all-you-can-eat buffets, the best place to sample a variety of different cuts of meat. Waiters roam the restaurant holding skewers of cooked meat and diners can sample as they wish.

Preço fixo: An excellent way for budget savvy travelers to gain entry into top restaurants is to look for preço fixo or fixed-price menus that offer a set course for a lower price than a la carte options. These are common in the business districts of São Paulo.

Quilo: Another common serving style at Brazilian restaurants is the por quilo, or per kilo, where you select what you want to eat from a buffet and pay for the total weight of your dish.

Pratos feitos: A top dining option for budget conscious Brazilians are pratos freitos, or fixed plates, or complete meals prepared in advance and served by the plateful. This is a great way to try what paulistas eat, for example feijoada, and to sample the contributions that immigrant cultures have made to the cuisine- think pizza, sushi, kabobs, etc.

With an entire cast of talented chefs and global variety of cuisines, São Paulo has firmly established itself as a food lovers’ dream destination. As suggested by the keywords above, exploring dynamic São Paulo’s culinary offerings will take you beyond the typical restaurant experience. To maximize your budget, look for fixed price buffets, set lunch menus, and per-kilo buffets.

We also recommend the following restaurants:

After tempting you with descriptions of churrasco above, we’d be remiss not to recommend at least one steakhouse. Fogo de Chão is one of São Paulo’s most popular churrascarias. Some travelers dismiss this restaurant simply because it also has branches in the U.S., but diners consistently come away impressed and fully satisfied. Fogo de Chão, Av. dos Banderiantes 538 (Vila Olimpia), Tel: (55) 11-5505-0791.

Dine at Brazil A Gosto for its imaginatively prepared Brazilian standards collected from across the regions of country. This restaurant is frequently lauded as one of São Paulo’s best, but the prices won’t strain your travel budget. Standout dishes feature Brazilian ingredients paired with unique flavors; try the pirarucu, the sea bass, and the pork loin. Brazil A Gosto, Rua Prof. Azevedo de Amaral 70 (Jardim Paulista), Tel: (55) 11-3086-3565.

If you’re in São Paulo on a Wednesday and in search of a delectable example of the traditional feijoada, stop by Restaurante Figueira Rubaiyat. Other specialties include Brazilian seafood dishes and steaks. Figueira Rubaiyat, Rua Haddock Lobo 1738 (Jardim Paulista), Tel: (55) 11-3087-1399.

Need help in planning your Brazil vacation to São Paulo and other destinations? Contact a travel expert at Latin America For Less, specialists in organizing Brazil travel packages.