A Saturday in São Paulo
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Just like in other big cities, the office workers enjoy going out on Friday nights, and sleep late. On a Saturday, do like the paulistanos, wake up late to relax and enjoy, without rushing around, the antique and handicraft fairs as well as the very trendy stores of the Vila Madalena (one of the most bohemian and intellectual neighborhoods in São Paulo). Afterwards, devour (guilt-free) some barbecue or pasta at one of the Italian restaurants. When the sun is down, the pilgrimage to small bars in the popular neighborhoods begins. It's a warm-up for the night, which is always at fever pitch until dawn on Monday.
Below, suggestions to spend a Saturday in São Paulo.
The St. Etiene bakery on the Vila Madalena (Madalena is the Portuguese for Madeleine, and is often shortened to Mada) is famous for its hot rolls, cakes and sweets. But the best thing there is its ample breakfast buffet, which includes brioches, croissants, profiteroles and other delicacies, ideal for beginning your Saturday.
After these reinforcements, there's nothing better than to get lost among the stalls at the antique fair on the Praça Benedito Calixto without having to leave the neighborhood. The fair has a mix of old and new items in the best "flea market" style (see a few photos of the fair). Take advantage and go into the crowded decoration stores that surround the plaza, like the Benedixt, that sells national and imported design pieces.
Walk through the Vila and check out the bookstores and art and furniture ateliers. If your stomach is growling, sample the specialties at the Italian cantina Buttina, featured in the Guia Quatro Rodas, which serves excellent gnocchi with braciola.
If your preference is for meat, São Paulo has plenty of barbecue restaurants (churrascarias) and star-rated a la carte options, such as the Bassi in Bixiga, specializing in special cuts.
It's worth your while to cross the city to the Bixiga, a bohemian area, of Italian origin and famous for its pastas from traditional cantinas such as Capuano and Conchetta (whose owner has been living in Bixiga for more than 80 years. If you're not hungry enough for a meal, snack on some delicious Italian bread with sardelo relish and a glass of wine.
The Saturday tumult begins early at the traditional Café Piu-Piu, which attracts fans of traditional rock and blues. Also in Bela Vista, the Gloria Club, with electronic music, is the favorite of the cool crowd.
Known as the Brazilian Broadway because of its many theaters, the neighborhood has Teatro Abril, located in the historical 1929 Paramount movie house/theater (Abril is publisher of several major Brazilian magazines, including the biggest one, Veja). Restored especially to receive international musicals such as The Beauty and the Beast and Phantom of the Opera, it has a 250 square meter stage.
If you prefer to wander from one bar to another, like the paulistanos do, go back to Vila Madalena and start from the section between Fidalga and Girassol streets. If you're not sure, reserve a table at Bar Salve Jorge (the name means Heil George), voted the best bar for happy hour by the magazine Veja São Paulo, or at the Astor (see page with a link to a map), which is almost always full.
Evening and Night
In this same region is Jun Sakamoto, a Japanese restaurant that garnered two stars in the 2006 Guia Quatro Rodas (translates as Four Wheels Guide, this is one of the most well regarded city guides published in Brazil); there, a dinner loaded with sushi and sashimi costs no less 100 reals per person. The cuts of the sushi chef the restaurant is named after are served at the counter.
After dinner, it's party time at the na Mata Café bar in Itaim; always filled with beautiful people, it features shows and a discotheque that mixes soul, black music and MPB (the place has been appointed as the best bar with live music in São Paulo).
To end the night listening to Brazilian Popular Music, head to Bar Passatempo, where the tables are full until 5 o'clock in the morning.
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