Hello from Sao Paulo, my temporary home for the next couple of weeks. And much like Mexico City, I haven’t been kidnapped here either. No one has tried to steal anything from me, and I walk the streets day and night with no fear for my personal safety. That being said, I’m staying in Itaim Bibi, which I understand to be generally very safe and neighborhood-y and there are probably other places where I wouldn’t walk around with my DSLR around my neck, but for now, everything is fine.
Very very fine. I have a little studio apartment and a maid that comes every day. There are three large grocery stores within a 3 to 10 minute walk. Today, I got my nails done for 11 Reals, or about $6.16. (Just a polish change.) I also bought a lot of Havianas for friends and family. They’re about 20 to 30 Reals each, so a steal in comparison to American prices.
I’ve also had some really nice meals. In some cases, REALLY REALLY nice meals. Here’s where I’ve been eating…
Aoyama, Rua Bandeira Paulista 405, Itaim Bibi. We dropped in here our first night in town and learned the hard way about buffet prices. The restaurant is a Japanese all-you-can eat sort of place. We said yes to the 60 Reals price tag and before we knew it, food kept arriving and arriving and arriving. And you know how I generally feel about mushrooms. We had to force them to stop deliverying food, and they seemed just so very disappointed in us. Another lesson learned? Be careful when ordering beer in Brazil. They keep bringing you beer after beer after beer as soon as your glass is half empty. (Half full?) Just say no. Verdict: Meh.
Mani, Rua Joaquim Antunes, 210, Villa Madalena. One of my Brazilian friends from grad school took us to this sweet but modern Brazilian-European restaurant. The menu leans towards vegetable and seafood dishes, but we still managed to squeeze in some foie gras with guava to start, served almost like cherries. I followed this with a deconstructed feijoada, the national dish of Brazil. It was a tiny taste — more about textures than food. This is not a bad thing. (The farofa — dry and crispy. The beans, soft and butter-like.) Best of all was my fish of the day. I have no idea what sort of fish it was — a white fish of sorts — but it was on a bed of bananas! Genius. Verdict: Go!
Spot, Rua Min. Rocha Azevedo 72, Jardim Paulista. My friend Ana from London, now of Hong Kong, says this is one of her favorite places in Sao Paulo. (She’s originally from SP.) We loved the buzz and we loved our server. (Although his American accent and use of “guys” became grating after a while and I actually had to tell him to cut it out.) My veal piccatta was nice and flavorful but the presentation was off and it was all just a bit basic. Spot is essentially a modern bistro. That’s fine. Verdict: OK.
Due Couchi, Rua Manuel Guedes, 93, Itaim. A FANTASTIC local Italian. Introduced to me by an American guy I met at the grocery store. Afterwards, I dreamed of my veal tortellini all night long. Soft little pockets of loveliness. The atmosphere is not super fancy or scene-y. It feels more like a family run restaurant. I like it. A LOT. Oh, and the cover charge of 14 Reals per person? Totally worth it. Homemade focaccia and tapanades and some mini bruschetta to start. The Verdict: Do it!
General Prime Burger, Rua Joaquim Floriano 541, Itaim. I’ll be honest. I only wanted to go here because they have a strong wifi signal, and our Internet wasn’t working so hot. So we went for lunch one day and had the salad bar, and it was pretty lame. Maybe we should have had a burger. But I’m not sure I’m impressed enough to go back. Verdict: Meh.
Nagayama, Rua Bandeira Paulista, 369, Itaim. Another recommendation from Ana, I LOVED this tiny upscale Japanese place. I took one of the remaining seats at the bar and let the older Brazilian woman next tell me what to order. I wish I could tell you what we had…salmon topped with tempura and bonito flakes, unagi nigri, and a tempura roll of shrimp and salmon. All very high quality and very very good. Verdict: Love. Like love, love. Mwah.
So that’s my latest. I still have a lot of catching up to do. Telegraph and The Bristol and Moscow and Madrid and wow…