With a country so diverse as Brazil, their food will be heavily influenced by its people and its geography. In Southern Brazil, the flatter cooler land makes it ideal for cattle ranching and along with the heavy German immigration in the area, red meat and churrasco (Brazilian BBQ) is very popular. In contrast, Brazilian Northeastern cuisine is predominantly influenced by African cuisine with seafood being more common along the coasts. Having solo backpacked around the country for a month, I think I was able to try most of what Brazil has to offer. Below are my top 5 eats in Brazil.
You will find this snack all over Brazil. This dish is made of frozen and mashed açaí berries (which is similar in appearance to a grape). They are commonly topped with granola and banana, but can also be topped with honey, strawberries, condensed milk, etc. The taste is similar to a sorbet but more sweet and satisfying and is a must while on the beach or on a hot day.
2. Sushi at Kappa SushiBar
Found in Sao Paulo’s Itaim Bibi, known for high-rise corporate headquarters and its glitzy nightlife. It is also known for its dining scene which includes high-end Japanese and French restaurants such as Kappa SushiBar. This “rodizio” or all you can eat place offers a great variety of sushi, all at a amazing quality. They have torched sushi and sushi with truffles, salmon carpaccio, temaki (hand roll) which are massive in Brazil. The torched sushi was the highlight as the a piece will melt in your mouth. The meal and a bottle of still water and tip came to a reasonable 82 BRL ($27.33 CAD).
3. Filé à Osvaldo Aranha
Another popular dish is Filé à Osvaldo Aranha which is any variation of grilled bovine fillet, rice and beans, farofa and French fries. All the ingredients are pretty simple but they go together well. What was new for me was farofa which is toasted cassava mixture. It is used to highlight the taste of meat and stews. On average, a plate can be around 19 BRL ($6.79 CAD) and will leave you satisfied for a good portion of your day.
4. “Comida a quilo” or Food By Kilo
Buffet style eating where you pay for the food by its weight is super popular in Brazil. You can find establishments like these from the high end section to the cheaper side. These places usually offers a wide array of options from salads, vegetables, meats, noodles, rice, pasta, and dessert. People start by taking a plate and taking the items they want. This is dangerous as a lot of the foods look good, and most of the time I took for more food than what I should have. Then go to the counter where they will weigh the plate wand charge you accordingly.
5. Sao Paulo’s Mortadella Sandwich
Brought from Italian immigrants, this sandwich is very popular in Brazil especially Sao Paulo. This sandwich consist of lots of mortadella, a large Italian sausage. The meat is similar to bologna but a bit different, being prepared with more spices and seasonings. It is topped with provolone cheese, mayonnaise and Dijon mustard, in between sourdough bread.
The most famous version is the one found in Bar do Mané in the city’s bustling Mercado Municipal. This Anthony Bourdain approved sandwich is salty and cheesy goodness. I’d recommend a beer or a Guaraná soft drink to wash it all down with. Be warned that this sandwich is massive and that it was impossible for me to finish it all.
Other Brazilian Eats I tried
- Pastel- deep fried pastries with assorted fillings (commonly meat and cheese)
- Pão de queijo – small, baked, cheese-flavored puffs
- Coxinha – fried and battered dough with shredded chicken meat inside
- Brazilian version of hot dogs, usually garnished with tomato sauce, corn, peas and potato chips
- Biscoito de polvilho – a snack food made of cassava starch and commonly added with cheese flavour. They get kind of addicting
- Brigadeiro – chocolate bon bons
- Tapioca flour crepes – crepes made from manioc (tapioca) flour with a variety of sweet and savory fillings like cheese, coconut, or chocolate
- Churrasco – Brazilian BBQ, usually all you can eat. I went to a pretty cheap one and it reflected in the quality of the meat
- Feijoada – a stew of beans with beef and pork