São Paulo city may be congested and intimidatingly ginormous, but it is a hell of a place to dine. From high-end Brazilian gastronomy to high-profile ethnic eats such as Japanese, Middle Eastern and Italian (don't miss pizza paulistana; São Paulo-style pizza), Sampa provides enough fabulous eats to sustain a small army for a lifetime. Along the coast, grilled fish and seafood stews govern kitchens; while the interior provides heartier, meat-driven fare.

São Paulo Specialties

The state of São Paulo has a rich culinary history and, due to waves of immigration from Japan, Italy and beyond, it's always enjoyed a privileged and varied menu compared to less homogeneous parts of Brazil. Here are a few locally born specialties to keep an eye out for, many of which are considered Brazilian staples outright.

  • Bauru A simple sandwich consisting of ham, cheese, tomato and French bread, invented in the roaring '20s in the city that gives it its name, 350km northwest of Säo Paulo city.
  • Pastel These stuffed, fried pastries are said to owe their history to Japanese immigrants, who tweaked Chinese wontons into a more substantial snack. It's one of Brazil's favorite street snacks.
  • Coxinha Ubiquitously eaten everywhere from bus stations to hip bars, these battered and fried teardrop-shaped bundles of shredded chicken, Catupiry (Brazilian creamy cheese) and spices – among many other variations – shouldn't be missed.
  • Virado a Paulista São Paulo's working man's lunch, a colonial throwback traditionally eaten on Mondays to start the work week off with a bang: Mashed beans and rice, sautéed kale, beefsteak or pork chop, pork cracklins, fried sausage, fried plantains and a fried egg. Bom apetite!
  • Pizza Paulistana São Paulo-style pizza, made world-famous in São Paulo city, was born out of the city's five million Italian immigrants, who no longer wanted to follow Italy's strict interpretation of pizza. Do not miss!
  • Cuscuz a Paulista A popular countryside take on couscous made most traditionally with sardines (though commonly with chicken or shrimp), corn, cornmeal, chives and spices.