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Poor one day and rich the next, our correspondent samples the best of Sao Paulo's street food and haute cuisine. Both are scrumptious and far more varied than you'd expect.
doce de leite and abobora squash with coconut. On weekdays, you can sample a little of everything at its all-you-can-eat lunch buffet.
Thankfully, the owners haven’t forgotten that Minas Gerais is also home to the sugar cane liquor called cachaca, which becomes a caipirinha, Brazil’s signature cocktail, when mixed with sugar, lime and ice.
The closest metro stop is Clinicas, seven blocks down Rua Teodoro Sampaio. Any bus headed down Cardeal Arcoverde or up Teodoro Sampaio will also work.
If you don’t love Mani, you’ll be the first person strong enough to resist its savory spell. The contemporary menu, created by a wife-and-husband, Brazilian-and-Catalan culinary team, is part Bahian beach shack, part upscale Barcelona tapas.
It’s also romantic. Candlelight, flowers and tropical plants set the scene, making you feel like you should pop a bottle of wine. But don’t pass up their list of caipirinha cocktails made with creative fruit combinations like blackberries and lima de Persia, a mild citrus fruit.
To go native, order the fish of the day with tucupi, a tangy liquid squeezed from a special kind of manioc root that’s cooked until it’s no longer poisonous. (The entire Amazon region runs on this stuff, also used in the famous duck dish pato no tucupi.)
If that’s too adventurous, order something you recognize that has a Brazilian touch. The rack of lamb, for one, comes with faux noodles made from pupunha, an Amazonian palm fruit, and farofa made with Brazil nuts.
It’s on Rua Joaquim Antunes just off Avenida Reboucas. There’s no nearby subway but it’s close to all Reboucas buses. If you can’t afford a cab, however, you can’t afford Mani.
This new bar adds an international touch to the traditional Brazilian boteco, where friends, families and couples gather around tables drinking beer. Set in the swanky Jardim Paulista neighborhood, this see-and-be-seen establishment screams hip with its globally-inspired menu and walls of subway maps from around the world.
Tables along the second-story balcony make great perches for observing the other patrons—20 somethings from that slim slice of Sao Paulo’s young professionals who can afford $9 cocktails with fancy names like the Folkets Rus and South American liquors like pisco (with kiwi, strawberry, pineapple and soda).
One sure sign of sophistication: besides the traditional creamy-headed draft beer called “chopp,” they offer four varieties of Colorado, a Brazilian microbrew. The pale ale is by far my favorite beer in this woefully under-microbrewed country.
Squat serves traditional Brazilian bar snacks like beef and cheese pasteis, along with a menu of street food from around the world. Try poutine, French fries with cheese curds and brown gravy from Quebec or cucur udang, a tempura-like dish from Singapore.
It’s near Rua da Consolacao three blocks south of Avenida Paulista. The closest metro stop is Consolacao along Paulista.
All about the flavor: Veloso
It looks like your typical neighborhood bar, but Veloso is hiding two secrets: delicious bar snacks and creative caipirinhas. Okay, let me rephrase that. To Sao Paulo residents, they aren’t secrets. The bar has won multiple awards from local magazines for best caipirinha, best barman and best coxinha.
Coxinhas, incidentally, are doughy fried croquettes filled with shredded chicken and cheese. You'll find them on seemingly any street corner, but not like they make them here. At Veloso, you’ll experience coxinhas in their finest form: fried to order, oozing with cheese and worth every calorie.
The barman, known as Souza, mixes up caipirinhas made with unlikely combinations like starfruit and basil. And when ordering a caipirinha at Veloso, you choose both the fruit and the type of cachaca — the sugar cane liquor that gives the cocktail its potent kick. If that seems too daunting, the staff is happy to help with recommendations.
Metro: From the Ana Rosa stop, head south a few blocks on Rua Vergueiro and take a left.