Shopping, Dining, and Art Guide

Sao Paulo Travel Blog

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When travelling to Brazil, some people barely make a stop in Sao Paulo. The ones that do, either love it, or hate it.


Anthony Bourdain described it best: “Sao Paulo is like L.A. threw up in New York City”. While Rio is all beaches, Sao Paulo finds itself a couple of hours shy from the ocean.

Paulistas, as the city locals are called, are known for being the hardworking-stress out people. While Rio’s cariocas have a more laidback approach to life, paulistas are viewed as a more serious crowd living in a fast paced megacity, instead of the beach, they usually hit the malls, dive into gourmet restaurants, enjoy the beautiful artistic and cultural activities that this city has to offer.


No matter where you are at in Sao Paulo, to find out the most recent reviews, shows, concerts and events, grab a copy of Veja Sao Paulo, or vejinha (it comes with the Veja magazine). Also grab someone to translate this for you.





Sao Paulo is so big that there are many places worth to check it out. Because I grew up in the Jardins, what I can offer is a quick short guide of this neighborhood highlights. To be honest, when visiting Sao Paulo, I spend less time in the city itself and more at the beaches in Ubatuba. If you are the type of enjoying the outdoors, backpacking, rough radical anti-consumerist, this might not be the neighborhood to hang out (museums definitely worth checking out though). It is very art/gallery/shopping oriented. In some ways, very snotty. Think of this as the Recoleta (Buenos Aires neighborhood) of Sao Paulo. Stop for a second though. This neighborhood offers great museums, bakeries, restaurants and art galleries. Let’s not be too shallow.


When I say shopping mall, do not imagine the typical Macy’s shop. We are talking high end top notch “malls” with amazing gourmet restaurants, coffee shops, bookstores, beauty saloon, spas, gyms, exclusive boutique shops, movie theaters (shows go after 1 am) and pretty much the social afternoon scene for locals getting their daily cup of coffee (I mean, espresso). A great example of a beautiful mall is Shopping Iguatemi, in the heart of Jardins. Be aware now, Brazil, especially Sao Paulo is not a cheap place as many might understand. If you plan on shopping at Iguatemi, know that some serious cash will be dropped.


Sao Paulo is not all shopping, of course. Paulistas are not only hard workers but they somewhat obsessed about health and food. Some of my most memorable eating has happened in Sao Paulo. There is a huge variety of cuisine, and being a health conscious city, many menus provide organic and “light” meals. In the past years (very past), Sao Paulo encountered a huge Italian, Arab and Japanese immigration (among many others). Fact: the largest Japanese colony in the world besides Japan is in Sao Paulo, so pay a visit in the Liberdade Neighborhood. Fresh fish, amazing food.


Arab food, especially Libenese food became one of my favorites growing up. Esfihas, a flat dough pizza shaped (tiny pizza) filled with meat, tomatoes and onions is sold in most corner bars and eateries. A great restaurant to get good Arab fusion food is Arabia.


Talking of corner bars, or lanchonetes and barzinhos , these are not the typical bars most would assume. Barzinhos are usually in the corner of the streets. When called a padaria or bakery, they offer fresh bread and a huge selection of sweets and salgadinhos (salty food). Also, they will most likely offer sandwiches, beer, and coffee. Cheap, quick and usually delicious, it’s worth making it a snack stop. Order a esfiha, coxinha de frango com catupiry (deep fried dough with cheese and chicken), and some fresh juice (they are all blended freshly right in front of you).


Gabriel Monteiro da Silva is home to a good selection of design, furniture and lightning stores. Its worth going for a stroll if this is your type of thing. Primo Basilico, offers one of the best pizza’s I ever had in my life. Some good galleries are also found in this area, as well as, MuBe (Brazilian Museum of Sculpture) and MIS (Museum of Image and Sound).


If we are talking serious art, then here’s a place: MASP (Museum of Art Sao Paulo, one my favorites). Inaugurated by Chassis Chateaubriand and Professor Pietro Maria Badri in 1947, its collection is considered the most important in the southern hemisphere, a treasure of humanity. As a NGO, MASP has become a cultural entity for most Paulistas. The museum provides a ground for exhibitions, photo, film and video libraries, art cultural center, classes, movie presentations, musical concerts, and lectures.


Into live music, dancing and drinking? Check out Saturday and Sunday night at the Clube do Choro. Paulistanos block off a street at the Jardim América and erect a stage for the Clube do Choro, an evening of live music, dancing, drinking and dining al fresco.


Here’s where I cannot give you too much advice: clubbing. These places change with the years, and what can be an amazing spot one week, is lame the other. Here’s where things get crazy. If you decide to go out to a club at night, be prepared to dress up and throw some serious cash for cover. Some of these places have an interesting way of keeping the tab. Usually, you walk into a bar and you receive a tab. Whatever you do, DO NOT loose this! Every time you order a drink or food, a stamp or note will be in this “ticket”. Once you are ready to leave the place, you go to the cashier and pay off your dues.


Get out! There is so much more to Sao Paulo than the Jardins. Here are some spots in the city worth visiting:

-CEASA: This is the most amazing food and flower market. Get there by sunrise to experience the fresh food and colorful rows of fruits and flowers;

-Teatro Municipal;

-Catedral da Se;

-Insituto Butantan: seriously, a trip. Lots of snakes.

-Mercado Municipal: expect to eat more food than you can possible encounter. Another open market. Grab the mortadela sandwich.

-Parque Ibirapuera: Large park in the heart of the city. Home of the Museum of Modern Art and many intricate gardens. Kind of the Golden Gate Park of SP.





Veja Sao Paulo



Avenida Paulista 1578,

Jardim Paulista, Sao Paulo.


Shopping Iguatemi
Av. Brig. Faria Lima, 2232 - Jardim Paulistano
CEP 01489-900
São Paulo - SP
0 xx 11 3816.6116


Here’s a list of some pretty unique stores that I believe are worth checking out:

Amor aos Pedacos- very yummy cakes. Stop there for dessert.

Arezzo- mostly women’s shoes and accessories.

Antonio Bernardo and H. Stern- Beautiful jewelry suing local Brazilian stones.

Gelateria Parmalat- Grab some of their delicious banana gelato.

Capodarte- extensive shoe collection at good prices.

Sarah Chofakian- women’s shoes.

Osklen- outdoor/adventure high end fashion

Triton- Alternative style clothing for men & woman.

Forum, Ellus, and Iodice- These three stores offer great styles and amazing jeans.

Track & Field- Amazing sports clothing. They last forever and absolutely the best materials.


Gabriel Monteiro Da Silva

Banca Europa- Boostore, magazines, coffee.

Bolinha- considered one of the best Feijoadas (black beans with pork) in Sao Paulo. Av. Cidade Jardim, 53, tel.: 3061-2010

MIS - Av. Europa, 158, tel. (11) 3062-9197

MuBE - Rua Alemanha, 221, tel. (11) 3081-8611.

Z Deli – Jewish Food. Al. Gabriel Monteiro da Silva, 1350, tel.: 3064-3058

Primo Basilico- Alameda Gabriel Monteiro da Silva, 1864 Jardim Paulistano - Zona Sul - 3082-8027



Eric says:
Am in Sao Paulo right now and just came across your blog post. Thanks so much for putting it up! Lots of great advice in here, and very very helpful!!
Posted on: Jan 19, 2010
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photo by: joesu