Posted by Krista on July 12, 2012
Traveling by yourself for business can be terrible at times. Even more terrible if you are staying in a hotel that has no creature comforts, no public spaces, nothing to keep you amused. At the end of my stay at The Staybridge Suites in Itaim, I was ready to pull my hair out. I was bored, and there was nowhere to go. I am not one to hang out alone in my hotel room, and Sao Paulo is not a city for walking. I need a hotel with public spaces and access to nice places.
So towards the end of my last Sao Paulo sojourn, I decided. I would upgrade myself on my last night. Big time. Big Big Time. Through Jetsetter.com, I found a “deal” on The Hotel Emiliano, and I did it. I booked it. I cringed. But I dd it. Although the price did make me wince. And wince again. A LOT.
But after five hours in Sao Paulo’s traffic on a Friday night between the hours of 3 pm and 9 pm (you really do not want to know), I am so glad I did it. Because I got there, and there was this…
FREE WINE! Well, let’s not think about how expensive this wine really was, given the price of my hotel room. But I like to think it was free.
Ah, and then there was this…
One day when I have the millions I deserve, I too will have a Japanese toilet in my house. I mean, I don’t mean to get all scatological on you, but words cannot describe the wonder and beauty of a Japanese toilet.
Also “free”? White Havianas, with the Emiliano logo on them. Two pairs! The other pair was huge, but luckily I have some friends with very large feet.
Back to the bathroom. Gorgeous. All that marble. And the bath products! Rest assured, I took all of them with me when I left.
There was much showering and much lounging around the hotel room. I think I took three showers in the short 15 hours I was there. The shower was big enough for many.
Hello mini bar. I think I LOVE YOU. LOVE YOU LOVE YOU LOVE YOU. Champagne and water, my two favorite beverages.
Yes, I might have drank some free wine in my free Havianas and then sat in my Eames chair in my bathrobe.
But this phone!! It reminded me of being at work. Bad phone. Bad. Where’s my wireless headset???
The only thing I didn’t really like about the Emiliano was the food. I ordered room service for dinner and it was distinctly unmemorable, except for the part where they got my order wrong. (Tomato salad? I am 500% positive I did not order that.) For breakfast the next morning, they got my order right, but my omelet was just so very average, and they charged me something like $12 just because I said “yes” when they said “Would you like milk with your coffee?” (I did want milk, but not a f*cking PINT.) Also, at the bar on the ground floor, there was one cock-up after another with both my drink and my food order. (I swear to God I never said, “I’d like ten sardines on ten toasts,” I promise.)
But other than that, it was a tremendously lovely and tremendously nice stay. I am just sad that I was so focused on feeding myself and availing myself of the bath products that I never did get my complimentary 15-minute massage.
Must go back then. You should too, if you can swing it.
The Emiliano is located in Jardim Paulista in Sao Paulo on Oscar Freire. It is very fancy. And very expensive. I think it’s the most expensive hotel I’ve ever stayed at in my entire life. Somewhere around $750 USD. GAH. Yes. But I needed it. And yes, of COURSE I paid for it. In its entirety. Personally.
Posted in Brazil, Hotels, Sao Paulo | 7 Comments
Posted by Krista on July 1, 2012
Back to Sao Pauo for the third time and for a few weeks. And yes, I did buy more Havianas. I’ve really fallen in love with them as “hausschuhe.” I definitely would not choose to wear them for a long walk anywhere, but inside the house, they’re fantastic.
I had a bit of a false-start with housing in Sao Paulo this time. I tried using Air B&B and rented an apartment, only to arrive and find that the toilet wouldn’t flush. The owner was generally responsive, but he kept telling me there was a trick to flushing the toilet. I couldn’t figure this mysterious trick out, so at 8:30 pm on a Thursday night, I had to repack and find somewhere else to go, in the midst of some huge hospitality convention. There was nothing available anywhere, except for the Renaissance, which I stayed at for a few nights last time. I reserved for two nights this time, but at $350 bucks a night, I couldn’t stay there long.
So I moved on. To the Staybridge Suites in Itaim. $265 a night. Much better. I like the Staybridge because you get a little living room in addition to your bedroom, and there’s a microwave and a kettle. But what I didn’t like about the Staybridge is the lack of common areas. There was nowhere to hang out except for your room. (To be fair, the Staybridge is attached to the Brascan foodcourt, so there are restaurants just outside the hotel. But they are not of the sort that you’d hang out at for ages. I like to hang out.)
I was trying to be really good about food while I was in Sao Paulo, so I kept things pretty simple for the most part. But here are some of the better places I dined in:
Santo Grau, Rua Jerônimo Da Veiga, 179, Itaim: I LOVED this place. Great outdoor patio, friendly service, excellent food. Great for a business meeting. So enamored was I of the lunch I had there my first visit (some sort of Brazilian fish with this crazy good sauce), that I never strayed and ordered the same dish two other times. The Verdict: Go.
Ritz, R. Jerônimo da Veiga, 141, Itaim. Everyone raves about the burgers at this place. Everyone is wrong. Dry, tasteless, and pitifully small. And the fries were overly salted. (Try Butcher’s Market around the corner instead.) If I had to go back here, I would maybe try a burger more exciting than my cheeseburger. I saw some other people ordering these burgers that looked great upon arrival, with much more stuff on them. (Look, no lettuce or anything on mine. Just a pickle.) The Verdict: Meh.
L’entrecôte de Paris, Rua Pedroso Alvarenga, 1135, Itaim: I’ve always liked the L’entrecote restaurants. I like the simplicity. I like the lack of choice. The Sao Paulo version did not disappoint, although they seemed to be maybe a bit stingier on the refills. (Odd for a country so enamored of the buffet.) The Verdict: If you like steak frites and green salad, you’ll do fine here.
Kibo, Rua Pedroso Alvarenga, 828, Itaim. I stumbled in here accidentally one afternoon for lunch. I didn’t realize it was one of those Brazilian places where they just keep bringing you food until you say stop, and it’s all included for one price. (The World Cup might put an end to this because really, if you are hungry, this is too good of a deal.) The service was sweet and the ceviche was fantastic, but everything else was just good. The Verdict: Good casual lunch spot, but not a destination.
Saint Germain, R. Manoel Guedes, 110, Itaim. I ate here fairly regularly for lunch. Saint Germain is mainly know for their breads and pastries, but their lunch sandwiches are pretty fantastic. Not much English is spoken, but you’ll get the gist of the menu, no problem. Go here for mortadella sandwiches, salami sandwiches, you get the point. (One day, I had to have the vegetarian sandwich just so I could have a break from all the encased meats. The Verdict: GO.
Ping Pong, R. Lopes Neto, 15, Itaim: Yes, the London dimsum chain has a Brazilian outpost. (It’s a franchise, I think.) They REALLY wanted us to order one of their set menus, but we went a la carte. It was all fine, but nothing special. What I did like, however, was the happy hour drink specials! Nothing in Sao Paulo is cheap, so it was nice to have a beer for 3.50 reals. (That’s $1.75.) The Verdict: Many people will like it here. To me, it’s just okay.
Tiger, R. Jacques Félix, 694, Vila Nova Conceição (where the rich people live). I met up with a friend from Chicago here one weekend afternoon and had a lazy lunch where they just keep putting sushi in front of us because it was another one of those all-you-can-eat places. (Brazil will be the death of me, really.) My friend only likes salmon, so this was a bit of a tough meal. The front patio is nice and all and all, this is a nice place. But I’m not sure I would make a special trip back. The Verdict: OK.
Santa Gula, Rua Fidalga, 340, Villa Madalena. My only real fieldtrip outside the confines of Itaim and Jardins. My Brazilain friends took me to Villa Madalena one night — the part of town where everyone drinks beers on the sidewalks and everyone looks achingly hip and beautiful — for dinner at Santa Gula. It’s a nice setting…you’re eating in an old Brazilian home. I thought the food way homey, but the restaurant itself just felt very dirty to me. Not helped by the toilets. The Verdict: Meh.
I have a feeling I’m forgetting a few places, but I’ll stop there for now. And I still haven’t written about Rio!
Posted in Brazil, Sao Paulo | 3 Comments
Posted by Krista on May 19, 2012
I’ve eaten Japanese food all over the world. Including in Japan. But there’s just something about Nagayama in Sao Paulo. It’s my fourth time here, me the person who doesn’t like to keep going back to the same place. But I can’t stop myself here.
This is the “batara,” and it’s not on the menu. I only know about it because my first time here, a nice Brazilian lady clued me in on the secret off-menu items. I took a picture of my batara then and have been using that photo to place my order ever since.
“Why isn’t it on the menu?” I ask tonight.
“Because it’s special,” was the answer.
And then the staff convinced me to have some sake, served cold in a wooden box. And then an “ebiten” (deep-fried shrimp roll) and then the tender belly of some very delicious yellowtail.
Very convincing, these Brazilians. Very.
The Verdict:I might be slightly high on seafood as I write this. GO!
Posted in Brazil, Japanese, Sao Paulo | 5 Comments
Posted by Krista on May 14, 2012
Back to Brazil in March. I like the food in Brazil. (Name me a country where I don’t like the food! I am too easy. But I do really like the food in Brazil.) Here’s where I ate and drank.
Living Lounge Bar & Sushi, Renaissance Hotel, Jardins. The sushi here was very good, but it was the staff that got me smiling, plying me with free treats even though my basic sushi set of the usual suspects was really enough for two people. The Verdict: Not a destination, but convenient for the business traveler.
Figueira Rubaiyat, Haddock Lobo, Jardins. My colleague Paul and I dropped in here for a late lunch and boy, were we disappointed. Can I say RIP OFF. Ridiculously expensive for what I can only call “wedding buffet food.” Without the buffet. My fish was overcooked but really, it was the price more than anything that galled me. I think we paid something ridiculous like $40 each for our entrees. That being said, the bar was nice and I would go to the bar again. The Verdict: Skip it. Yes, even if it has a big tree and it’s in all the guidebooks and you can sit outdoors and everything. SKIP IT.
Margherita’s, Alameda Tiete, Jardins. We loved the pizza, the service, and the big convenient buckets of beer at this crowded and lively Sunday night spot. (It’s also open the rest of the week, but Paulistas like their pizza on Sunday nights.) The Verdict: Fun. Go.
Cantina do Piero, Haddock Lobo, Jardins. Right across from the Renaissance. My colleague and I split a quick lunch here before heading to the airport for Rio. Sao Paulo is expensive, bu this place was super-expensive and really, all we had was some pasta in tomato sauce. The servers were of the handsome older variety, which I like. And really, the food was simple and good. But the price kinda killed me. The Verdict: Not a must, but convenient if you’re staying at The Renaissance.
Oba, Rua Dr. Melo Alves, Jardins. My Brazilian friends Nerone and Ellen (who I first met in Chicago many years ago) took me to this gorgeous restaurant in Jardins for an extremely lovely dinner. The food is meant to represent Brazil’s diverse cultural influences. The menu, which changes frequently, was somewhere in between Mexico and Thailand when we visited. I loved my tacos and I just loved the overall vibe and feel of the place. (That’s Oba in the photo above.) The Verdict: Go.
Lellis Trattoria, Av Campinas, Jardins. Nerone and Elen didn’t entirely want to go here because they had just been, but I had a flight to catch and we couldn’t get into anywhere else in Jardins. (Saturday lunchtime, apparently very popular.) I loved the handsome older waiters and the tile walls and just the old-school vibe of the place. Also loved our food. Elen warned me that the portions would be huge and I should have listened. We started with a basic salad, dressed perfectly, and then I ordered some fish and broccoli which was deceptively simple, but oh so good. (In contrast to Figueira, where the food was simple, but bland.) In short, I really liked it here. It’s not trendy or sceney — it’s more the type of place where you’d do a family lunch — but it’s very very good. The Verdict: Go.
I am back to Brazil shortly, so there’s more to come. Plus, I still need to tell you about RIO.
Posted in Brazil, Sao Paulo | 3 Comments
Posted by Krista on January 29, 2012
I might have restaurant fatigue. I might have everything fatigue. You try living in an apartment in Brazil with a broken microwave and no oven — only two electric burners — and you tell me what you think. (In hindsight, I should have held a Twitter challenge. What can I cook on my two electric burners?) Suffice it to say, I ate a lot of yogurt. I may have actually lost weight this trip. Not a bad thing.
In the meantime though, if you ever make it to Sao Paulo, here’s another installment of where I ate…
Avila, Rua Bandeira Paulista, 520. Itaim. This Argentine steakhouse offers a nice businessman’s lunch for 50 Reals, which is quite a steal given that the couvert (bread and sausages) is included, along with a luscious green salad. (Sometimes after a while traveling, all I want to eat is vegetables.) I was one of the only women present in the restaurant during our visit, which was slightly disconcerting. And although my rib tips were nice, the accompanying rice and vegetables were dry and lackluster. The Verdict: Meh. I liked the sausages and salad best.
Butcher’s Market, Rua Bandeira Paulista 164. Itaim. Everyone raves about the burgers here. Next time I’m in town, I need to meet this blogger and this blogger and have them take me to their favorite places. I totally loved the vibe here and I loved the service. But I thought my cheeseburger was just good, not great. That being said, I would try Butcher’s Market again. The Verdict: Good if you’re a homesick American in need of a burger.
Armani Cafe, Shopping Iguatemi, Faria Limia 2223. I had really bad vibes walking into this place, in an open corner of the top floor of the Iguatemi shopping mall. You know where there’s a lot of staff milling about, all in matching outfits, but none of them are actually doing anything? THAT. That being said, my chicken club was surprisingly nice. The Verdict: Not worth a special trip, but fine if you’re in the area.
Bottega Bottagallo, R. Tabapuã, 618. Itaim. Laissez Fare introduce me to his friend Ana, who happened to live right up the street from me in Itaim. She took me to this popular Italian small-plates restaurant. I loved the atmosphere and the service — super friendly and sweet. The food was homey and straightforward — braised beef, pastel with cheese — and sometimes you need that. The Verdict: The right atmosphere. We only sampled two dishes from the menu, so I’d go back to try more.
Kaa, Av. Juscelino Kubitschek, 279, Villa Olimpia: So if you have to go one place while you’re in Sao Paulo, this is really not a bad choice. It’s trendy, the atmosphere is great, and the huge wall of plants is pretty cool. Brazilians love Hearts of Palm, which is great because so do I. I started with two huge palmitos, and then had a nice portion of pumpkin ravioli in almond sauce. All very nice. Service was a little forgetful, but they were better than the servers at the Armani Cafe, so I will forgive them. The Verdict: A nice trendy spot with good food. I can see why people like it here. Did I die over it though? No.
Rascal, Rua Leopoldo Couto Magalhães Jr, 831, Itaim. Everyone loves this popular Brazilian buffet chain. The Itaim location is bright and airy and has one of those living plant walls like Kaa. Only problem? It kinda smelled like water damage the day we were there. The torrential January rains had done their damage. Service was distracted. The buffet lines were packed. And at the end, I ended up eating too much of stuff I never really wanted to eat anyhow. I don’t like buffets in America. Don’t like buffets outside America either. The Verdict: Most people will like it here. I prefer a waiter and a menu.
If you are at all familiar with Brazil, you will probably figure out that I was staying in Itaim Bibi. Traffic can be ridiculously terrible in Sao Paulo, so it’s best to stay local. These guys seriously need a congestion charge or a bike program or a massive subway project. I definitely love the vibe of Sao Paulo, but I’m not sure how this city is going to survive the next 25 years as such a driving city. Crazy town.
P.S. I have not been very good at promoting my Facebook fan page. I have fun with it. Become a fan, if you’re out there, reading this.
Posted in Brazil, Sao Paulo | 4 Comments
Posted by Krista on January 22, 2012
Cashews. I’m kinda a fan. Hate almonds, love cashews. (Also love macadamia nuts.) I will forever remember Sao Paulo because it was here that I learned where exactly my favorite nut comes from. A fruit! (Yup. I had no idea.) And look…you only get one nut per fruit. That’s a lot of work for one cashew.
Shoes at Liberdade, the Japanese part of town. You might know that Brazil has the largest Japanese population outside Japan. 1.4 million and counting. There are a lot of Japanese restaurants in Liberdade. We didn’t try any, but we did laugh at our tour guide when she tried to explain tempura and yakisoba to us. Poor girl.
The famed Mortadella sandwich at Hocca’s at Mercado Municipale. It’s like eating fried bologna, if you’re into that. I liked the sauce though.
There are a lot of crazy fruits in Brazil. Things you’ve never seen. From the Amazon. It’s pretty wild. Brazilians LOVE fruit and juices and all sorts of Vitamin-C bearing things. They also like to give you the “thumbs up” sign a lot. I mean, A LOT. (Non sequitor, sorry!)
Caipirinhas at our local in Itaim Bibi, Boteca San Bento. We learned the hard way that Brazilians don’t drink caipirinhas much because of the cachaca. It’s too strong for them. So they drink caipiroskas — that’s a caipirinha with vodka. You try having two caipirinhas on a Tuesday. Ouch.
Up the street from my apartment in Itaim, there’s a bar called Salve Jorge. There are always people there, at any time of day. The waiters wear ties. And there are crystal chandeliers. I like it here.
All around Itaim Bibi, there are orchids attached to trees. It’s really super lovely. Someday, in the dark of night, I will attach orchids to the trees of Wicker Park, Chicago. I will become the Orchid Bandit.
The Ferinha do Bixiga, an antiques market on Sundays. It’s nice. If you like old things like sunglasses and tea cups.
The Museo do Ipiranga, a small but lovely tribute to Brazil’s history. If I had time, I would have brought my gym clothes and jogged around like the many others I saw. It’s a bit of an oasis in a terribly huge city.
Beco do Batman in Villa Magdalena, an alley covered in graffiti, which apparently changes quite frequently. Suffice it to say, I wasn’t the only one wandering the alley with an SLR over my shoulder.
I took this picture out the car window as we were driving out of Beco do Batman. I wasn’t even paying attention. And it came out perfectly. How’s that?
Posted in Brazil, Sao Paulo | 3 Comments
Posted by Krista on January 21, 2012
I just made one of those traveler errors. You know, where you’re not paying attention and get totally screwed. I am in Brazil. They like cashew nuts in Brazil. A lot. So I bought this bag at the grocery store, not even thinking, and then I got the bill. 40 Reals. That’s $22. Of nuts. F*ck me.
Posted in Brazil, Miscellaneous, Sao Paulo | 3 Comments
Posted by Krista on January 14, 2012
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…
Posted in Brazil, Sao Paulo | 6 Comments