Once you’ve arrived in Sao Paulo and you’ve recovered from the shock of the size of the head on your beer, you’re probably going to start to feel a bit peckish. Depending on where you chose to buy your beer there may be several options available to you. You may have chosen a restaurant for your beer in which case you’re probably sorted already depending on the type of cuisine you’ve selected. Bars do a range of food depending on the level of poshness but unlike the UK where beer it typically limited to pubs and restaurants there are a range of alternatives for beer drinking in Sao Paulo.
1. The Padaria
Essentially a bakery but the padaria is much much more. It’s the place you can go for your morning coffee, pre sugared (cafe puro if you want black or cafe pingado if you want it with milk). They also have a range of ‘salgados’ (savouries) ranging from coxinhas (pron. kosh-ee-nya – chicken surrounded by dough in covered in breadcrumbs) to pao de queijo (cheesy bread).
Any time between 07:30 and 10:00 depending on the quality of the padaria, it’ll start serving beer. Beer is available in cans (latinhas – pron. la-chee-nyas) or in pint bottles (garrafas – pron. ga-ha-faz). Beware – despite it’s name a ‘long neck’ is actually a little bottle (about 330ml). There is usually a range to choose from, it’s all fizzy lager but Original, Serra Malte or Heineken probably has the most taste but on a hot day even the bog standard Skol or Brahma can be refreshing. Bohemia is usually marginally more expensive but there’s little difference taste wise.
Throughout the day many padarias also become restaurants serving a wide range of food nd some even have buffets that charge by the kilo. You select the food you want, then your plate is weighed and you pay for the amount you have selected.
After about 6pm many padarias also serve pizza by the slice and they have a range of baked and dairy products you can buy to take away.
2. The Boteco
The boteco is a bar/cafe which has many of the features of a padaria but without the large range of bread products and food choices. The quality of a boteco varies considerably from very chic and very expensive to very filthy and cheap. The toilets in the latter variety are an experience in themselves. The food choices in a boteco are often more limited but usually include salgados and sometimes, in the posher types, a wider variety of food. The beer options are usually the same as a padaria but the more posh botecos may offer a selection of bottled beers from around the world.
3. The Feira
If you are lucky enough to go to a Sao Paulo street market then as well as enjoying the wide range of fruit and vegetables, make sure you try pastel, deep fried pastry filled with cheese or meat. Near to a pastel stall is usually someone selling caldo de cana, juice made from sugar cane which is very sweet and very delicious.
4. The lanchonete
A lanchonete is a cafe, halfway between a boteco and a restaurant. A popular dish is the ‘prato feito’ which normally consists of rice, beans (the south american kind, definitely not baked) and some kind of meat. On Wednesdays and Saturdays they normally do feijoada (pron. fey-jwa-da) which is beans mixed in with bits of pork. Fridays they’ll probably do fish.
5. The restaurant
If you want to go for a sit down meal there is a large range of Italian, Chinese, and Japanese restaurants. The best place for the last two is probably Liberdade which is where you’ll find a wide range of asian restaurants and a few karaoke bars.
6. A Curry
OK so there are some restaurants near the centre which will offer you what they think is a curry but if you want a decent curry you’ll need to get the metro south to Santa Cruz and go to Samosa and Company where you’ll find the best curry in Sao Paulo. Trust me.
p.s. My mate Pete also recommends Tandoori. Going to check it out asap. yum yum