Where to go in São Paulo

While in São Paulo I took the opportunity to explore some foodie related places and some sites of interest in the city I was born. The city of São Paulo is ranked among the five-largest metropolitan areas on the planet with a population of around 20 million. São Paulo is the capital of São Paulo state, which is the most populous state in Brazil. The city is ranked 3rd in the world in number of high-rise buildings with more than six thousand. If you ever find yourself in São Paulo here are my suggestions – what to do and where to go.

by Rosana McPhee

Street Food

A typical street market in São Paulo. This kind of market has been taking place in the streets of Brazil since the 17th century. Selling fresh produce as well as street food, each district has at least one market during the week. They are regulated by the town hall and great sources of jobs as well as distributing fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and fish.

Pastel & sugarcane juice (left) and Tapioca (right) traditional street food at street markets:

Mercado Municipal

A great place to sample food from all over Brazil under one roof and to stock up on essential Brazilian products and ingredients from top quality producers.

Underground: Luz or São Bento – 10 mins walk
Rua da Cantareira, 306, near Rua 25 de Março and Parque Dom Pedro.

Pastel & sugarcane juice (left) and Tapioca (right) traditional street food at street markets:

Typical juice bar – all fresh produce (left) and pão de queijo and Guarana (right)

Food Suggestions

Comida for kilo is everywhere in Brazil. This is usually an extensive buffet of hot and cold foods and desserts, where your plate is weighed and you pay per kilo.


In a rodízio the customer pays a fixed price and the waiters bring an offering of food to each customer at several times throughout the meal, until the customers signals that they have had enough. In churrascarias, servers come to the table with knives and a skewer, on which are speared various kinds of meat, most commonly local cuts of beef, pork, or chicken. There’s always a buffet of hot and cold food to accompany the meats. There are other rodízio style restaurants, for example serving pasta or pizza rodízio (where various pizzas are brought on trays). Its common, also, to have rodízio-style sushi restaurants in Brazil.

Below churrascaria, Fogo de Chão:

Two fruits to try while in Brazil

Caju (where cashew nuts comes from) has unique taste and texture and Jabuticaba

Avenida Paulista and the Underground

Avenida Paulista is the heart of the financial, cultural and business centre in São Paulo, the 2.8 kilometre is home to an extensive shopping area and to Latin America’s most comprehensive fine-art museum, MASP.

Liberdade – our Soho

Pinacoteca – museum of visual arts

Estação da Luz
The station is part of the metropolitan rail system. It houses the Museum of the Portuguese Language, established in 2006. The station was built with materials brought from UK, and was designed and produced by Walter MacFarlane & Co. Saracen Foundry in Glasgow.

Places to stay, eat and drink

InterContinental Sao Paulo (below)
Located at Jardins district – Upmarket restaurants and shops, near Av. Paulista

Unique Hotel (below)

Great bar at Unique hotel, the Skye Bar and view over Sao Paulo (below), designed by Ruy Ohtake

Av. Brigadeiro Luis Antonio, 4700, Jardim Paulista, São Paulo

Most famous junction in Sao Paulo: Av Ipiranga x Av. Sao Joao – a bit of a touristic point, Bar Brahma. Bar Brahma has been the meeting place of choice for intellectuals, musicians and theatre-goers since 1948. The bar bore witness to key events in São Paulo’s history, from inflamed discussions about the political repression of the 1960s to the start of bohemian samba circles. Great for sampling some of Brazil’s famous nibbles like pao de queijo, coxinha, picanha na brasa, etc. The menu is extensive and my suggestion is to wash all down with a delicious caipirinha or chopp (light coloured beer) served below freezing.

Bar Brahma, Av. São João, 677 Centro

Terraço Itália Restaurant

Panoranic view of São Paulo from 41st Floor from Terraco Italia Bar and Restaurant
Free between 3-4pm Monday-Friday – check before you go.

Pavement outline of São Paulo Map

Postbox (right)

Praca and Cathedral Sé
The cathedral started as a small church in the 1500s and at the time was the main church in the small village of São Paulo. Praça da Sé is the centre of this gigantic and complex city.

Neo-gothic architecture, construction started in 1913 and it took 40 years to build


Praça da Republica – small green square in the heart of the city

Parque do Ibirapuera

The largest green area in Sao Paulo with museums, exhibition spaces, planetary, theater, cultural spaces, momuments, picnic and sports areas (basketball, skating, football, running, cycling to name a few). The Museum of Contemporany Art, MAM- Museum of Modern Art, Museum AfroBrasil, in the grounds of this immense park, were designed by Oscar Niemeyer in the 1950s.

City Centre – Map

Words by Rosana McPhee. You can read more of Rosana’s writing on Brazilian food at Hot and Chili.

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One Comment

  1. Drew

    Interesting ideas.. but no mention of Vila Madalena & Pinheiros??

    The whole district is a prime spot for graffiti findings + arty shopping experiences you’ll never find in a shopping center and amazing regional food restaurants!

    Traditional bars like Genesio & Filial serving non-stop Chopp – the trays of draft beer just keep on coming.. no need to order just accept the offer of another!

    Vibrant and unique restaurants like Sta. Gula – hidden along a candlelit path – and all-you-can-eat breakfast buffets in padarias/bakeries like Vila Grano, Sta. Etienne, Deliparis.

    Amazing Brazilian ice creams with flavours like cupuaçu, graviola, tapioca at Feira Moderna – also a place to find artesanal goods from all over the country.

    Live samba at Ó do Borogodó & other live music you can find just by walking around in that area.

    From Avenida Paulista just a take a taxi to Rua Aspicuelta and the junction with Rua Fidalga, or Mourato Coelho at night and you’ll be in the middle of a great area for discovering something a little less faux-New York!

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