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Designed by Oscar Niemeyer and Roberto Burle Marx, this expansive park was meant to be an improvement to Central Park in New York City. Home to an impressive amphitheater, museums, water bodies, and lots of paths with some impressive landscaping, it's well worth a visit. Come for a stroll, jog, picnic, open air concert or bike voyage on a Sunday. Various food vendors are strewn throughout with agua de coco and snacks. It's best to check the website for events if you'll be visiting on a weekend.
Go to the Mercado Municipal in Sao Paulo for all your gourmet needs. The market has everything from fresh vegetables to homemade candies. I decided to go for a mortadella sandwich from Bar do Mane. The locals seem to have a soft-spot for the place, which has been around since the market opened in 1933. Another point of interest are the beautiful stained glass window panels, 32 in all. These were created by the Russian artist Sorgenicht Conrad Filho. Going on the early side (for lunch) is probably ideal since they don’t seem to close too late, especially on Sundays. Mercado Municipal Rua da Cantareira, 306, near Rua 25 de Março and Parque Dom Pedro. Hours of operation: Monday through Saturday from 6 am to 6 pm, Sundays and holidays from 6 am to 4 pm. Photography by Ruddy Harootian
Sao Paulo is a massive, business hub of South America and not the greatest place to visit. It's full of great food, but not much in the way of culture or beauty. But there is a funky oasis in the middle of this skyrise city in the artsy neighborhood of Vila Madalena - Batman Alley. This two block alley is covered in colorful, crazy, wild spray paint murals. Bring you camera, then stick around this cool hood for some pao de queijo.
Ordering something local, often something you have never heard of or cannot pronounce, is one of the best ways to get to know a new culture. While Sao Paulo doesn't ooze with culture, it does boast an incredible food scene. One of the more notable restaurant in Jardins is A Figeuira, meaning fig tree, as the entire restaurants sits under a massive fig tree with dripping candles and twinkle lights. The menu is full of meat, but I went for the fish ribs, which were about the same size as a rib eye. God only knows what monster fish this was, that I can only assume came out of the Amazon, but it was incredible and a do not miss dish. Don't forget the side of heart of palm. Follow your sea monster with a trip to the equally as massive dessert bar loaded with chocolates and dolce de leche.
Sometimes in SP it's a matter of just looking to the tops of these very tall buildings to see some remnant of the past or some architect's incredible whim.
São Paulo’s D.O.M. is currently rated sixth in the World’s 50 Best ranking, but to me it is simply the restaurant where I take every visiting non-Brazilian for a guaranteed reaction: “What just hit us?!” The more confident that chef–owner Alex Atala becomes (his inclusion in Time’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world was a recent boost), the further he pushes. Current tasting menus include anything from Amazonian ants on a pineapple slice to the foamy core of an overripe coconut paired with algae. One thing remains unchanged: the showy tableside service of aligot that precedes dessert. A pairing of mashed potato and cheese is artfully swirled around with two spoons and lands on plates as silky, irresistible minitwirls. “Amazing!” exclaimed Alice Waters, the doyenne of sustainable cooking, on a recent visit. Atala smiled and bowed. —Alexandra Forbes This appeared in the August/September 2013 issue. Image: Sergio Coimbra/StudioSC
Architects should be cultural agents who are concerned with both good and functional design. For me, Lina Bo Bardi and her raw, modernist architecture exemplified this. She really thought about the people who would use her spaces. My favorite example of her work is SESC Pompéia, a cultural center where old and young gather to play soccer, swim, enjoy theater and dance, or just stroll along the boardwalk. —Zahira Asmal Rua Clélia 93, 55/(0) 11-3871-7700. Photo by Greg Balfour Evans/Alamy. This appeared in the March/April 2013 issue. Read more about Designing South Africa and Designing Brazil founder Zahira Asmal.
Isabela Raposeiras knows good coffee. Lucky for us, she's willing to share this wisdom at her incredible café and roastery, Coffee Lab. She sources directly from farmers all over Brazil and roasts the beans to perfection in this Vila Madelena café. Come to attend a class, experiment one of the many tastings on their menu, or just to have an excellent cappuccino (prepared in the Italian style). The people that work here are unpretentious and extremely kind. Filtered tap water is free. It's worth a visit to the website to see how great the philosophy behind this place truly is!
Anyone who has been to Brazil knows that the country has fantastic open-air markets, known as "feiras" in Portuguese. They often feature a combination of handicrafts, antiques, live music, dancing, and street food. The market on Saturdays at Praça Benedito Calixto in São Paulo is no exception, but this one is almost unknown to tourists. Older Paulistanos (as Sao Paulo residents are called) sell beautiful antiques that reflect the city's cultural ties to Europe. Artisans sell colorful woven clothing, handmade leather shoes, jewelry made from açaí seeds, baskets and mobiles made from recycled magazines, and much more. In the center of the market is a square of food and drink vendors, selling food from Northeastern Brazil, dried fruits, coconut water, and other typical Brazilian street food. In the early afternoon, live "chorinho" music begins and the square soon fills with people dancing. This outdoor market is much more than a place for people to shop--it's a place for people to relax and have fun. The market runs every Saturday 9:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. The streets surrounding the market have many good restaurants, and the neighboring street of Teodoro Sampaio is known for its shops selling traditional Brazilian musical instruments. There are parking garages nearby; the market can also be reached by bus or by subway (Clinicas station).
“The particular strength of the MAB’s permanent collection of nearly 3,000 works is early 20th-century Brazilian modernism (Di Cavalcanti, Tarsila do Amaral, Victor Brecheret, Anita Malfatti), but it has also mounted hit exhibitions that were homages to Grace Kelly and Christian Lacroix and a retrospective of work by the two brothers Os Gêmeos, Brazil’s hottest graffiti artists.” —Arthur Casas Rua Alagoas 903, 55/11-3662-7198. This appeared in the October 2013 issue. Photo by Tatiana Cardeal. Read more about Arthur Casas's Higienópolis neighborhood.
With its comfortable seating, Parisian-style tables, and hardwood decor, Santo Grão Café on Rua Oscar Freire is the type of café that's impossible to leave. The list of coffee drinks is impressive, and the food delicious. Perfect for a french press, omelette, and newspaper on a lazy Sunday morning, the place attracts an international crowd. The knowledgable staff will help guide you as you select a coffee from their home-roasted selection.
Ici resembles a cozy Parisian brasserie with its painted tin ceiling, tiled floor, and red banquettes. I especially like the magret of duck and steak tartare with shoestring fries. Rua Pará 36, 55/(0) 11-3257-4064. This appeared in the October 2013 issue. Photo by Tatiana Cardeal
“Built around 15 years ago amidst a lot of opposition, this upscale shopping mall has become a symbol of the neighborhood, giving it new energy and pushing up real estate prices in the environs. Its design respects the historical buildings around it. The place is very inviting and flooded with daylight, as pleasant a shopping experience as you’ll find anywhere in the city. It has brand stores such as Osklen, Livraria da Vila, Studio W, and Lanchonete da Cidade.” —Arthur Casas Avenida Higienópolis 618, 55/11-3823-2300. This appeared in the October 2013 issue. Photo by Tatiana Cardeal. Read more about Arthur Casas's Higienópolis neighborhood..
In Liberdade, Sao Paulo, the home of the largest Japanese community outside of Japan, I felt like I was in Tokyo while knowing I was in Brazil. Portuguese was spoken on the streets but the stores and the street food reminded me more of Shibuya.
“One of São Paulo’s preeminent art galleries, it has a striking design by Brazil’s own Pritzker-winning architect Paulo Mendes da Rocha. It sits at the juncture of the Higienópolis and Jardins districts, near the western tip of iconic Avenida Pauista. A visit can last a good part of the day. The open courtyard gives access to the gallery and also houses Sal Gastronomia, a pleasant lunch spot.” —Arthur Casas Rua Minas Gerais 350, 55/11-3138-1520. This appeared in the October 2013 issue. Photo by Tatiana Cardeal. Read more about Arthur Casas's Higienópolis neighborhood.
by Alondra De La Parra A former train station, the Sala has some of the finest acoustics I have ever heard. I’ve been working with the resident orchestra, Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, which I think is the best in Latin America. osesp.art.br/portal Read more about Alondra de la Parra, including all of her favorite concert halls and places to stay, eat, and shop. Photo courtesy of Sala São Paulo. This appeared in the March/April 2012 issue.
One of the wonderful things I found in São Paulo was a culture of sustainability that appeared to be more forward-thinking than many other cities around the world. Meeting with friends at the Ekoa Café, I listened to several of them discuss their efforts to push the city to meet new environmental challenges. This cafe set a good example for global citizenship. One particularly unique aspect to the cafe was in Ekoa's lighting that gave a warm ambiance to the place. The rich glow came from lamps made from used coffee filters. Each fixture was artfully assembled and gave the room beautiful character. If you are visiting São Paulo and find yourself in Vila Madalena, be sure to visit Ekoa Café, or visit their website to learn about their efforts toward supporting a healthier world!
“What I like the most at this steakhouse is its winter garden, which feels like a leafy backyard. The ojo de bife is delicious, but, because I tend to be on a perennial diet, I usually order the fraldinha, a Brazilian cut of beef that is quite lean.” —Arthur Casas. Rua Tupi 979, 55/11-3825-0917. This appeared in the October 2013 issue. Photo by Tatiana Cardeal. Read more about Arthur Casas's Higienópolis neighborhood.
São Paulo has a thriving culture scene that can be seen in its museums, craft fairs, graffitti, and artsy shops. If you spend a Sunday there, be sure to head over to São Paulo's main avenue, Avenida Paulista, for a three-part cultural experience. First, the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (São Paulo Museum of Art, or MASP) is well worth a visit. It houses Latin America's finest collection of Western art, including pieces by Picasso, Rembrandt, Monet, and other European masters. The museum also houses excellent temporary exhibits. If you're hungry, you can eat at the museum's cafeteria or wait and get snacks at the nearby crafts market. As you leave, spend some time perusing the huge antiques market that takes place every Sunday under the museum. Then cross the street and wander the "feira," or crafts market, for typical Brazilian crafts (some of which are quite expensive) and good street food. Finish up with a stroll in the adjacent Parque Trianon, where musicians often play on Sundays. MASP is open 10-6. Admission is about $8 and $3.50 for students. Parking is available in lots and garages on side streets, and the metro station is Trianon.
“I am a lover and a collector of photography, and this is where I go most frequently to buy new works. It’s essentially a library of some of Brazil’s best photography, which also holds exhibitions of artists such as Thomas Farkas.” —Arthur Casas Rua Piauí 844, 1st floor, 55/11-3825-2560. This appeared in the October 2013 issue. Photo by Tatiana Cardeal. Read more about Arthur Casas's Higienópolis neighborhood.
After hearing so much about the huge Municipal Market in downtown Sao Paulo, I was excited to visit a slightly smaller version in Lapa, one of Sao Paulo's central districts. I wanted to see not just the array of food but also Brazilians going about their daily routines. The market didn't disappoint. Like their European counterparts, Brazil's indoor markets serve as a one-stop shop where people can eat, drink coffee, and buy fresh produce, meats, cheeses, and even gifts. During my two visits to this market, I watched as salted cod and huge Kalamata olives were chosen for a Sunday feast. I tasted cheeses and bought fresh fruits. I waited while my in-laws picked out party decorations. I watched vendors busily working and yelling to each other. I also watched vendors stop and interact with my children, and I chatted with old women about my kids--Brazilians love kids and enjoy conversation. For a slice of Brazilian life and a close-up view of Brazilian food, this locals-only market is worth a stop.
“Mere steps away from one of Higienópolis’s most iconic buildings, Edificio Cinderela, [a modernist marble condominium with columns in bright pink tile] this is a regular morning stop for me. I usually order a ham and cheese croissant. It’s one of those family-run classics that you keep going back to time after time.” —Arthur Casas Rua Maranhão 220, 55/11-55-3120-8070. This appeared in the October 2013 issue. Photo by Tatiana Cardeal. Read more about Arthur Casas's Higienópolis neighborhood.
If you're going to get to know Brazil, you're going to get to know soccer. I was able to attend the São Paulo state championship match between Santos (former club of Pelé and current club of Brazilian soccer sensation Neymar) and Guaraní. Santos won, 3-0.
After 12 years of visiting the megacity of São Paulo, Brazil, I finally made a point of seeing all of Oscar Niemeyer's work there. My husband, a native of São Paulo, drove us into the center of the city, with its curving avenues and bustling intersections, to get up close and personal with this famed architect's work. The highlight for me was the Latin America Memorial. Oscar Niemeyer was one of the 20th century's most influential and prolific architects. He died just before his 105th birthday in late 2012. He was from Brazil but had a deep international influence. However, the huge number of projects that he completed in Brazil makes this country the best place to experience his work. São Paulo has many of Niemeyer's buildings, including the Memorial da América Latina, a complex of curving buildings and sculpture that celebrates Latin America's rise to freedom. Besides demonstrating his ability to create round exterior walls that seem to defy gravity, Niemeyer created a space for the people--one that serves the public with outdoor events and buildings devoted to Latin American politics. When we visited, the entire complex was occupied by Bolivians celebrating the independence of their country. As Niemeyer would have liked, his beautiful architecture, a space devoted to the public, came to life with a colorful celebration of Latin America's people.
The sprawling, dirty, chaotic metropolis of São Paulo is known worldwide for it's street art. Popping up on virtually every street corner in the city, it's impossible to miss on even the shortest tour of the city. For some of the best work, however, head to Beco de Batman in Pinheiros. Beco de Batman is a winding alley way totally dedicated to street art. No two visits yield the same experience. Be sure to check out the area at a time of day that gives you plenty of time to get back before dark as it tends not to be the safest place after dark.
I love to travel, but something I rarely admit is that I'm not very adventurous when it comes to food on the road. I love to try local specialties but don't eat much meat or heavy, fried food. As a result, it took me a while to get into street food in Brazil, but I have found that it's a great option for someone like me who wants something small and often meat-free. São Paulo is known as a gastronomic city because of the diverse food and beautiful restaurants, but something all locals know is that its street food is great, too. Trucks selling coconut water and booths selling pastel (fried pockets stuffed with your choice of fillings) are all over the city. Outdoor markets always have street food vendors selling roasted cashews, pastel, cochinha (usually filled with chicken), acarajé (fritters of black-eyed peas and shrimp fried in coconut oil, a dish from northeastern Brazil), empadinhas filled with olives and heart of palm, and esfihas (stuffed bread). On Saturdays, across the street from the Museum of Art on Avenida Paulista, is a wonderful handicrafts market. After checking out the handmade items for sale, stop at the food vendors and pick up a snack like esfiha with escarole and cheese (shown above) and cashew juice (suco de caju).
As a lover of architecture, visiting Edificio Copan in the center of São Paulo was high on my list during my last visit to this lively city. However, what really struck me while standing outside Copan was this fun street art behind us. It seems to be a new version of the Brazilian icon Carmen Miranda. São Paulo's streets come alive with street art. From murals and graffiti to whole facades of buildings painted with beautiful scenes, the creativity and color exhibited in the city's outdoor work reflect the vibrancy of the Brazilian people. According to street art experts, the city is one of the world's best for the development of this form of art. To see some of the city's best examples, head to the Vila Madalena area (which is fun to visit anyway). The best examples are found in Beco do Batman (Batman’s Alley), off Rua Harmonia just before Rua Luis Murat.
São Paulo is home to many vibrant markets, and the Sunday antiques market on Avenida Paulista is one of them. The market is located under the Museum of Art (MASP)--the museum is built off the ground, leaving a large open space where vendors set up their white booths early every Sunday morning. The selection of antiques is impressive, possibly because São Paulo has such strong cultural ties to Europe. After browsing the market, you can cross the street and visit the handicrafts market and stop for some good street food sold among the artisan booths.
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