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Large waves of immigrants and migrants entered the city in the past century, and São Paulo’s food scene ranges from regional to international fare. Brazilian, Italian and Japanese are the popular food choices here. Take a look at our picks for the five best food experiences in São Paulo:
1. Visit Mercado Municipal. People-watching while washing down your lunch with a cold beer or coconut water make for a great afternoon at São Paulo’s downtown covered market. The lunch counters are locally famous for Jurassic Mortadella sandwiches and fried codfish patties. Kiosks sell a variety of artisan goods — from meats and cheeses to olives and cashews — to eat on the spot or pack in your suitcase. Accept samples of exotic fruits, from sweetsop to persimmon.
2. Try feijoada. You generally can see and smell feijoada, Brazil’s national dish, as it’s ladled out on Wednesdays and Saturdays in São Paulo. Black beans form the base for the stew that also mixes in various pork parts. It’s served over rice with greens and manioc flour. Samba bars commonly incorporate the plate into afternoons of music, dancing and munching. Add the various elements — including pork ribs, ears and toes — in proportions of your choosing at Pé de Manga in Vila Madalena, an alfresco restaurant shaded by a giant mango tree.
3. Eat fresh açai. While byproducts of the Amazonian berry have begun to appear overseas, nothing beats a bowl of fresh açai on a hot São Paulo day. Generally served in an ice cream-like consistency, the purple treat comes topped with your choice of banana and/or granola. We recommend Casa na Praia near Ibirapuera Park, Açai Bar in Vila Olímpia and Frooty Açai’s Vila Madalena outpost.
4. Go to the festa de Nossa Senhora Archiropita. The Archiropita festival occurs every weekend in August and celebrates the Italian heritage of the Bixiga neighborhood. Food tents serve spaghetti with sauce, stromboli, sausage sandwiches and other specialties. Fans of seasoned eggplant should act fast as the popular accompaniment sells out quickly. Entertainment for kids includes carnival games and trampolines. Classical Italian music plays as a musical backdrop.
5. Visit liberdad. Fans of Japanese food should make an outing to the Sunday street fair in Liberdade. Alongside craft vendors, food stands sell yakisoba, tempura and temaki, as well as Japanese desserts. Neighborhood restaurants, meanwhile, feature more comprehensive menus filled with maki, nigiri and sashimi options.