Chef’s Tour: Alex Atala’s São Paulo in Five Meals
If there’s anyone we trust with outlining our feasting game plan for Brazil, it’s Alex Atala. Known as Brazil’s first and only celebrity chef, Atala has been reinventing the country’s foodscape since the opening of his now famous restaurant D.O.M.
The São Paulo-based restaurant makes every foodie’s bucket list for its creative dishes made with indigenous (and sometimes rarified) ingredients like pirarucu river fish and pitanga fruit. The restaurant is currently rated the 9th best restaurant in the world by the S. Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants published by Restaurant Magazine.
For those yearning to taste Atala’s favorite Brazilian ingredients and products without a flight, the chef recently partnered with Try the World, a food subscription box, to bring local goods to the company’s 50,000 customers. The box will be available in summer 2016—just in time for the Rio summer Olympics.
For those planning an actual trip to Brazil, we’ve asked Atala for his favorite spots in São Paulo:
For a traditional Brazilian breakfast, head to Padoca do Maní, which serves great “pingado e pão na chapa.” Pingado means coffee with milk (similar to a macchiato). Pão na chapa? Toasted bread and butter.
Mocotó has got “amazing food.” The name of restaurant refers to a Brazilian dish made from cow’s feet, stewed with beans and vegetables.
Atala switches it up for dinner, favoring traditional Japanese restaurant Shin Zushi. Japanese cuisine is actually quite popular in the city, as São Paulo has the biggest Japanese community outside of Japan. Atala suggests diners indulge in the Omakase menu, a sampling of the chef’s favorite selections.
Marilia Zylbersztajn is known as one of the best pastry shops the city. There is a wide selection of cakes and pies, whose basic design betrays the depth of flavor. In addition to about 10 types of cakes and pies, there are caramels, cookies and candy.
Atala’s favorite place to unwind after a meal is The Riviera Bar, which opened in 1949. Atala refers to the lounge as a center of the bohemian life in São Paulo, saying it has attracted “artists and various people from the most influential circles of the city’s society.”