10 Things to Eat in São Paulo

Photos by Kenya Alvarado, (Student Correspondent) American University
CET Brazil, Spring 2015

  1. Açai

When anyone asks me about açai, I always respond with “Açai e vida” (açai is life). Out of everything I ate in Brazil, this is probably my favorite. Açai is a thick yogurt-like smoothie. You can either get this in a bowl with granola and fruit or you can drink it as a smoothie. Açai is really popular among Brazilians. Personally, I like drinking one with condensed and powdered milk right before I go to class.

  1. Coxinha

A very famous snack in Brazil. This fried raindrop is filled with chicken and a cream cheese called catupiry. Because São Paulo is fast-paced, people often eat these on the go. These fried drops can usually be found in subway stations, street stands and in the markets.

  1. Pastel

Pastel is the most famous lanches (snacks) in the city of São Paulo. You can often find people snacking on this while walking on the street, in a kilo and even on the bus. The best way to get a pastel is in a feira. A feira is a market that sells fresh fruits, vegetables and street food. The best pastels that I have had have always been in feiras. Flavors range from queijo (cheese), carne (beef) and frango (chicken). So next time you go to a feira, order a pastel with caldo de cana (sugarcane juice)! It will definitely hit the spot.

  1. Temaki sushi

This one may be surprising, but São Paulo actually has the largest Japanese population outside of Japan. Unlike the US and their obsession with sushi rolls, you can often find Paulistas eating temaki sushi. These coned shaped sushi are filled with rice, fish and any other toppings you choose. Tip: Paulistas do not use avocado as a vegetable so if you like your sushi with avocado, you have to ask for it.

  1. Feijoada

This is the national dish of Brazil. You cannot say you went to Brazil without trying this dish. This dish is a stew that consists of pork, beef and beans. This dish is normally served with rice, cabbage, and oranges. Although this dish looks a little wild, you will end up loving it at the end. In São Paulo, you can find people eating feijoada on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

  1. Churrasco

The classic Brazilian barbecue! There are many churrasquerias in São Paulo but the best churrascos are the ones done in family homes. These churrascos consist of a variety of meats such as beef, sausages and chicken. These meats are often accompanied with rice, bread, and Brazilian vinaigrette. Going to a churrasco is a classic Brazilian experience.

  1. Carioca beans and rice

Although these beans are named after people in Rio de Janeiro, these are the beans that are eaten in São Paulo. In every restaurant you enter, you will find carioca beans with rice. If you love rice and beans then get ready to eat this every day for lunch and dinner.

  1. Pão de Queijo

Pão de quiejo literally translates to cheese bread. These are inexpensive, but they will be the most delicious bread you will ever taste. You can find these everywhere from restaurants to grocery stores. Be careful with the way you pronounce “pão” because if you do not use the nasal sound, another word comes out. Look it up!

  1. Pizza

São Paulo has a huge population of Italian immigrants. As a result, São Paulo has one of the best pizzas in the world. Unlike Americans who eat pizza using their hands, Paulistas eat their pizza with a knife and fork.

  1. Caipirinha

Even though this is not something you can eat, you have to drink the national cocktail of Brazil. Many compare this drink to mojitos, but that does not do this drink justice. This drink consists of cachaça (Brazil’s famous liquor), sugar and lime. This may be a little strong when you first arrive to Brazil but by the end of your stay, you will be a pro at drinking this.