Brazil’s cultural richness is apparent in everything from its colorful traditions, parades, and music to its food. Brazilian cuisine has elements of European, African, and Asian cuisines mixed with indigenous traditions and each region has its own traditional dishes to try. As a gastronomical city, it's easy to sample all of Brazil's traditional dishes in Sao Paulo. These are the foods to sample on a trip to the city.
If you’ve ever been to a Brazilian steakhouse you’ve probably heard of the rodizio style of service where servers bring you different cuts of meat on large skewers until you ask them to stop and you've probably seen picanha. The cut (called sirloin cap in the U.S.) has thick layer of charred fat that contrasts with the soft, rosy meat. This cut is so soft it’ll fall apart in your mouth and, because of the fat, it's full of flavor.
This is the king of the Brazilian seafood dishes. Originally from Bahía, moqueca is a slow-cooked stew with fish, shrimp, and vegetables. The type of fish and shellfish used and the consistency of the stew changes depending on which restaurant you dine at, some even use coconut milk to make it creamier. This dish is served hot, traditionally in a clay pot, as custom dictates.
This is probably one of Brazil’s most famous dishes. The feijoada is a rich, dense stew that mixes black beans and different cuts of pork in a pot and is cooked for a full 24 hours before serving. Although there are some restaurants that serve it on a daily basis, this dish is usually served only on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Traditional feijoada uses pig trotters and ears, although some restaurants have a version that includes other parts of the pork.
Acai is known worldwide as a superfood because of its richness in nutrients. The fruit is originally from Brazil and can be found in numerous dishes, from the popular bowls to juices, smoothies, sorbets, and fruit cocktails. Acai bowls are the most famous and they are usually mixed with other fruits, such as banana, mango, strawberry, and kiwi, with a granola topping. These sweet, cold, purple bowls are big enough for a full breakfast meal.
Originally from southern Brazil, this dish mixes the Portuguese heritage with the traditions of the indigenous population of the zone. The authentic way to cook barreado is to dig a hole in the ground and put a clay pot in it so it cooks underground for up to 20 hours. The final stew will have extremely soft meat and a thick broth. The recipe includes lean meat, different spices, onions, and tomatoes. It’s served with farofa (a salty tapioca flour), rice and bananas.
Pão de Queijo
Who hasn’t heard of these delicious cheese bread balls? Unlike some breads that have a cheese filling, the dough for Brazilian pão de queijo is prepared with cassava flour and minas cheese, creating these light and fluffy rolls. You’ll find them everywhere in Sao Paulo. They are sold as snacks, served on the breakfast buffet and as appetizers in many restaurants. Some places have variations that can include fillings like ham and others use pão de queijo for sandwiches.
These pastries might look like something you may have tasted before, but their flavor is very different because of the dough and the fillings. These pastries were typically sold on street fairs, but they are now found in most restaurants as appetizers. The dough is very light and crunchy, and the filling is always a surprise. They can be filled with ground meat, cheese, chicken, or vegetables (usually heart of palm).