By Mari Rodriguez
Deciding on where to eat in São Paulo can be a daunting experience. With so many cuisines, environments, and neighborhoods to choose from, it’s hard to wade through the options. Check out our list of restaurants not to be missed. From the heavy-hitters of haute cuisine and chic design, to the traditional and low-key, here’s where to eat right now in São Paulo. Bom apetite!
This one’s certainly at the top of the list now that Mani’s head chef Helena Rizzo just won the title of World’s Best Female Chef. Mani gives delightful twists to Brazilian ingredients and traditional dishes, with unexpected combinations like foie gras with goiabada (a guava conserve). We recommend the tasting menu to get a full spectrum of their offerings, although you can’t go wrong with a-la-carte, either.
D.O.M. is an institution, not just in São Paulo but in the international dining scene. Consistently voted amongst the top ten restaurants in the world, Alex Atala’s restaurant pioneered avant-garde cuisine in Brazil. Atala is best known for sourcing diverse Brazilian ingredients like rare Amazonian herbs as the basis for stunning and mouthwatering dishes. The menu is only prix-fixe, of four or eight dishes.
Dalva e Dito
Alex Atala’s other restaurant in São Paulo, Dalva e Dito specializes in “down-home” Brazilian cooking. The best time to go is for their monthly galinhadas (R$59 per person), where guests enjoy this delicious chicken and rice stew typical from the interior of Brazil, followed by a party headed by some of the town’s most sought-after DJs.
Epice’s Alberto Landgraf rounds out the trifecta of São Paulo’s hot young chefs making big waves in haute cuisine. Landgraf’s menus use local ingredients and draw from the country’s diverse cultures, merging Brazilian dishes with Japanese or Italian techniques and flavors, for example. Our tip? Go for lunch and order the “Executive Menu,” a fantastic prix-fixe deal at R$49 for three courses. They don’t cut corners for lunch, so you’ll be sure to get a genuine taste of what has made this restaurant so renowned.
Tucked away in the enormous thoroughfare of Avenida Kubitschek, this is easily one of the more stunning restaurants in the city. Kaá’s menu tilts towards Italian, particularly with its fresh pasta, risotto, and seafood dishes. Be it for a business meal or a date, this is one to make a lasting impression on your guest.
With its “Italo-Brazilian” menu, Attimo encapsulates the mix of cultural backgrounds that make up the city of São Paulo. Be ready for creative reinterpretations of classic Italian dishes, Chef Jefferson Rueda’s ode to the way immigrants adapt food to their new surroundings. Although their lunch and dinner menus are solid, we recommend going with friends to try out the Bar Menu, featuring small plates and gourmet caipirinhas.
One would be remiss to not include sushi restaurants in this list, with São Paulo’s incredibly rich Japanese community. Hamatyo is renowned for its “orthodox” approach to sushi—so don’t expect crunchy rolls with sriracha mayonnaise. Think of Jiro Dreams of Sushi: here one comes only for classic, delicate sushi and sashimi, each prepared for you by the head chef, Ryoichi Yoshida. This is an experience not to be missed.
Brasil a Gosto
Ana Luiza Trajano’s restaurant is a gem—known for her diligent, even erudite approach to cooking, Trajano heavily researches and presents traditional recipes from throughout Brazil, made with ingredients sourced in each respective area. You get a genuine taste of the incredible diversity of Brazilian cuisine, all in a quaint spot in Jardim Paulista.
Located on Oscar Freire, the most chic street of São Paulo, Chez Oscar is a new hot spot for its unique layout divided taking up four floors: it is a street café, a second-floor restaurant, and two different bars on the third and fourth floors. The menu is light, with salads, bruschettas, and other small plates, but let’s be honest: you’re here for the ambiance, the cocktails, and the astounding people watching.
On the hipster side of things, there is Rothko in Vila Madalena. Complete with chalkboard menus and artisanal beers, Rothko certainly does not disappoint with its menu. It’s heavy on the meat side, and particular favorites include their pork belly sandwiches and their churrascos. A notable relatively newcomer to the scene.
A São Paulo institution, this one’s a bit off the beaten path but absolutely worth the trek. For those in the know, Mocotó is the go-to spot for traditional Brazilian meals and salgados (salty snacks). Their great selection of cachaças to wash it all down makes it all the better.
Bar Lanche Estadão
More often than not, you will find yourself at this no frills 24-hour spot after 2am. But trust us, their generous pernil (roasted fresh ham) sandwich on French baguette is fantastic no matter the time of day. But for a, say, more colorful experience, go after 2am!