Back in 2013 I was scanning through my Twitter feed when I came across a ‘Top 10 Must-Visit in São Paulo’ list. It was written by one of those international bloggers who seem to travel all over the world with the sole intention of making top 10 lists…about absolutely everything.
This was the first time I’d seen this well-known blogger writing about São Paulo. Naturally, I was intrigued to see if I’d been to many of the places included on her list. As I scrolled through I wasn’t surprised to see some of the usual suspects on there; Ibirapuera park, the Municipal market and the bohemian district of Vila Madalena had all made the cut. However, I was pretty baffled to see some of the cities expensive bars and restaurants making up the rest of this list. Some of these were places I’d visited, had an exquisitely bland time in, paid a fortune for the pleasure and then vowed never to return.
These places play NO part in the São Paulo I’ve come to know and love!
And that was when I hit upon the idea of writing a similar list for someone visiting the city, someone who wants to go off the beaten track and experience an alternative São Paulo.
My Top 10 of 2016 comes from the places and events that I discovered and enjoyed last year. Some are annual events whilst others are places that are open every day. So without further ado, here goes:
#10 Urbe Café Bar
R. Antônio Carlos, 404 – Consolação, São Paulo – SP, 01309-010
São Paulo may well a city teeming with coffee shops and bars, but this one really stands out from the crowd. I’d even go as far as to say that it’s easily one of my favourites. I say this because it’s actually a place I tend to take my first dates to. That’s right! If you ever find yourself on a date with yours truly, I am very likely to suggest this place. Why? Well, this contemporary venue has a very intimate feel to it. Plus the staff is incredibly friendly and the decent selection of wines are also very affordable.
I sometimes hang out with friends here during the day too, as Urbe also offers a selection of light food and great coffee.
Open 12pm-0.30am on Mondays
9am-0.30am Tuesdays/ Wednesdays/ Thursdays/ Sundays
9am-3am Fridays/ Saturdays
Check out the Facebook page here.
#9 Mercadão Pinheiros
R. Pedro Cristi, 31 – Pinheiros, São Paulo
Photo Credit: folha.uol.com.br
When you walk through the doors of the Mercadão Municipal you are greeted by the smell of spices, the sight of counters filled with meat and stalls selling mountains of fruits and vegetables. But this is also the case over at the Municipal Market – where any self respecting São Paulo guide would advise your average tourist to go.
So what is it about this place that is different?
Well, recently the Pinheiros market has undergone a bit of a face lift. It is now home to some very reasonably priced restaurants courtesy of some of Brazil’s best known chefs. So you can pick up some top class ceviche at Comedoria Gonzales, buy food typical of the north East at Mocotó Café or grab some pizza at Napoli Centrale Pizza Napoletana. There are a number of produce stores set up by the world renowned chef Alex Atala too.
Mercadão Pinheiros is easily my favourite place to grab a bit to eat right now. Recently I was eating lunch on the outdoor balcony area and I noticed a priest enjoying lunch with a friend, a group of businessmen sharing beer and a bearded hipster working on his laptop. The charm of this market is that it really feels like the understated sort of place that everyone can enjoy.
Photo Credit: www.mg.co.za
This 2.2 mile stretch of elevated highway has been described by some as a scar running through São Paulo. Many have called for it to be demolished and others would like to see it turned into a park (Similar to New York’s High Line). But right now, it retains the same purpose it had when it first opened back in 1970 – as a means for cars to snake across the city.
Outside of the hours it is used by drivers (6.30am-9.30pm during the week, 6.30am-3pm on a Saturday) you’re likely to see this stretch of road being reclaimed by dog walkers, skaters, runners and also those simply out for a stroll. With the highway sometimes running 5 meters away from people’s bedroom windows, it literally offers a glimpse into urban life in the rundown heart of São Paulo’s centro district.
Should you go for a walk on the Minhocão (The ‘big worm’ in English), you may well find yourself enchanted by what one New York Times journalist described as its “alluring combination of ugliness and beauty.”
R. Nestor Pestana, 115 – Consolação, São Paulo – SP
Photo taken from the PPD Facebook page
PPD (Or Por um Punhado de Dólares as it is otherwise known) is downtown, one street behind Roosevelt square (Actually, it is also very close to another favourite bar of mine, Drosophyla). In this modern coffee-shop/bar there are a variety of great coffees to choose from, all prepared by the well-trained barristers. As you might expect from any self respecting coffee haunt, there are a selection of delicious cakes on the menu too. There are also lunch options and alcoholic beverages available.
But ultimately, the thing that I appreciate the most about PPD is that it has a great, laid back atmosphere. It is quite easy to forget the chaos of everyday life in São Paulo when you’re here. Well…for however long your coffee lasts anyway! Open 10am-10pm every day except Sunday.
Check out the Facebook page here.
#6 A Casa do Porco Bar
Rua Araújo, 124 – São Paulo – SP
Since opening in October 2015, this restaurant has become one of the ‘must visit’ places in São Paulo’s culinary scene. Its epic lines during weekends are certainly a testament to this (The longest I’ve heard anyone waiting to be seated is two and a half hours! Like…seriously! I am pretty sure I would have eaten the person standing next to me if I’d been waiting to eat for two and a half hours!).
So why is it so popular? Well, iconic chef Jefferson Rueda has created a menu that boasts a number of unique and creative pork dishes. The staff is friendly and the ambiance is also very pleasant.
Given the mouthwatering appeal of the menu, it would be quite easy to spend a lot on food and drink during your visit here…unless, of course, you’re ordering a sandwich from the ‘quick kitchen’ hatch at the side of the restaurant. Here, for a very reasonable 15 reais you can have a shredded roast pork sandwich… and a sample of what the diners are enjoying inside.
Monday to Wednesday, from 12h to 0h
Thursday to Saturday from 12h to 0h30
Sundays 12am to 17.30
Quick Kitchen (On the sidewalk) opens at 11am
For more information check out the Facebook page
Check the Facebook page for location
Photo taken from the Gaymada São Paulo Facebook page
When I heard that there was a gay dodgeball taking place in São Paulo, I was very intrigued. After checking it out for myself one Saturday afternoon, I am happy to report that Gaymada SP certainly didn’t disappoint. In fact, it is definitely as fun as it sounds!
This event seems to attract a number of dodgeball enthusiasts who are partial to dressing up in costume. The last Gaymada was a Christmas themed ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ event, the time before that was ‘HalloQueer.’ One look at the Facebook pictures from these games will leave you in little doubt as to how creative participants can be when putting together their costumes!
With a DJ on hand to play tunes to players and spectators, this event has quickly established itself as one of the city’s most interesting free events. If you fancy a game, you just need to show up as anyone and everyone is welcome to join in…the costumes though are optional!
Have a look at the Facebook page here.
#4 Sala São Paulo
Praça Júlio Prestes, 16 – Campos Elíseos, São Paulo – SP, 01218-020
Photo credit: http://www.galeriadaarquitetura.com.br
Sala São Paulo is home to São Paulo’s state symphony orchestra, and back in 2015 The Guardian voted it one of the top 10 concert halls around the world. Inaugurated on July 9th 1999, this venue boasts some incredible acoustics. This might have something to do with the adjustable ceiling weighing in at 7.5 tons. This can be moved to affect the sound quality to respect the intensity of the compositions being performed. Try not to think too much about the weight above your head as you sit back and relax during the performances though!
In hindsight, I should have visited this place much earlier than I actually did. But if truth be told, I have never really considered myself much of a classical music lover. There was always something else I felt I could have been doing instead of paying Sala São Paulo a visit. But sometimes to discover the best that Sao Paulo has to offer, you have to suspend any preconceived ideas you may have.
And I’m happy I did this, because Sala São Paulo is simply beautiful. Ticket prices are not too expensive either, so if you wish to escape the hustle and bustle of the city in a glorious setting, I would highly recommend this place.
For more information, click on the link for the website here.
#3 Batata Eletrônica
Largo da Batata, Pinheiros
Photo taken from the Batata Eletrônica Facebook page
Whilst 2016 saw collectives once again occupying the streets of São Paulo, the majority of these were to be found in the centre of the city. This is where the Batata Eletrônica bucked that trend. Instead, they have chosen to utilize the space in Largo da Batata in the Pinheiros neighbourhood. The premise is simple, go, drink, dance and enjoy the free electronic music on offer until things wrap up at around 11pm.
The party is held right next to the metro Faria Lima, so getting home to rest your worn out feet afterwards isn’t likely to be a problem. Batata Electrônica spins house and techno on various Saturdays throughout the year. To discover more check out their Facebook page here.
And another tip! When attending this event (The next one will be on January 14th ) have a look at the imported beers available from the small Doce & Bar (Number 90, beside the dentist). Not only are there a wide range of interesting beers available here, but they are also very reasonably priced.
For more information, have a look at the Facebook page.
#2 Rinconcito Peruano
R. Aurora, 451 – Santa Ifigênia, São Paulo – SP, 01209-001
Photo taken from the Rinconcito Peruano Facebook page
Why, oh why, had I waited a full six years before going to this restaurant? I ask myself this because Rinconcito Peruano is easily one of the most delicious restaurants in town. Admittedly, the place isn’t much to look at from the outside; there isn’t even a sign above its door! But herein lies its charm, this place is ALL about the food and not at all about the frills! As the Guardian wrote back in 2014, this restaurant ‘is humble, unpretentious, cheap as chips, and almost invariably rammed’.
This eatery is located right in the heart of downtown São Paulo. If you’re not familiar with the location then I’d strongly advise you to get a taxi to the front door (especially late at night). Then, after ascending the stairs during peak hours, you’re likely to find yourself in a line to wait for a table. But the food that awaits you after being seated is definitely worth waiting for. Although there are a variety of dishes on the menu….well, I won’t lie; I go to Rinconcito Peruano for one reason and one reason only. I go there to eat what many locals have dubbed ‘the best ceviche in São Paulo.’
If you’re thinking of doing the same, you won’t be disappointed!
Photo taken from the ODD Facebook page
São Paulo’s underground nightlife gained momentum back in 2013, when many collectives moved away from traditional nightclubs and instead began to play in tunnels, streets, abandoned factories and in disused cinemas. Many of these – Methanol FM, Carlos Capslock, Mamba Negra, Free Beats – have found their way onto my Top 10 lists over the last few years. But there was one event that really caught my attention this year that I haven’t mentioned before…ODD.
The thing about this party is that, as well as great house and techno music (amongst other styles), this party really focuses on the advanced visuals of each event.
ODD was curated by the renowned DJ and producer Márcio Vermelho back in 2014. Since then it has gone from strength to strength. With so many interesting and creative places to stage parties in the city, last year ODD was taken to various locations around São Paulo. It also visited other cities around Brazil too, where nowadays you’re likely to hear an international DJ or two added to each line-up. The party is guaranteed to be full of interesting people, good vibes and great music…often using once neglected places as its backdrop.
ODD is definitely worthy of its number one ranking on my list for 2016, and worth checking out in 2017.
Take a look at the Facebook page here
What do you think of this list? Did I miss any of your favorites from 2016? Are there any you think deserve to be higher or lower on this top 10 countdown? Let me know in the comments section!
Cover picture taken from: http://www.spnegocios.com/