DISCOVERING A DIFFERENT SIDE OF THE BRAZILIAN LIFE, LUCAS RAVEN FLEW TO SAO PAULO WITH QATAR AIRWAYS TO GIVES US A TASTE OF THE COUNTRY’S CULTURE..
My journey with Qatar Airways began as soon as I arrived at the airport. Business class check-ins are smooth, but they’ve made it even better. Doha airport is one of the best airports in the world, more so when you’re flying with the flag carrier – it felt like I walked into a 5-star hotel here!
The flight to São Paulo from Doha is approximately 15 hours and believe me when I say that’s a loooong haul. I got on the plane and was pleasantly surprised by the Q Suite. It’s like a combination of first class and business, in one private cabin. From the food and beverage menu to the 2000 well-curated films for your inflight entertainment, I mean, I knew I was going to enjoy this flight to Brazil. Brazil is a huge country with an incredible diversity of landscapes, cultures and history. The capital is home to some architecturally elaborate buildings, while beaches are spread out across several cities including Fortaleza and Rio de Janeiro, while Salvador and Sao Paulo present a beautiful mix of cultures that have found a home in the country.
The city also offers a range of attractions year-round. Skyscrapers and elaborately designed hotels line the streets, while sandy beaches present a more laid-back approach to life in Brazil. The country’s cuisine is a fusion of different influences that include traditional Brazilian spices and flavours, rich regional variations, and a plentiful choice of international dishes on offer too.
When it comes to natural wonders and notable sights, Brazil will surely not disappoint. The country is home to the Amazon Rainforest, which accounts for over half of the size of rain forests remaining on the planet. There’s also a vast region of Atlantic Forest along the Atlantic coast, as well as an expanse of wetland extending into the Mato Grosso.
Shopping culture is booming in Brazil, with high-quality and low-priced items available in the market. High-end shopping malls are spread around the country, while local markets offer more traditional items. Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, is a vibrant urban hub, a cultural centre and a foodie’s paradise. You’ll find that there are lots of things to like about this city. Whether it’s the entertainment scene, the museums or the opportunities to explore the culture, the city has plenty to offer.
EATING OUT IN SÃO PAULO:
São Paulo is a cultural melting pot, and where there are many cultures, there are many good places to eat. The city’s food scene is influenced by Italian, Lebanese, Portuguese, and Japanese immigrants who all call São Paulo home. There’s everything from fine dining (it was one of the two cities where the Michelin Guide launched its Brazil edition in 2016), to street food, to the magnificent Mercado Municipal. It’d be nearly impossible to eat all the way through São Paulo, but you could do worse than starting at these top food spots, broken down by neighborhood.
Bráz Pizzaria — Partly due to São Paulo’s Italian immigrant population, partly due to the fact that pizza is nearly everyone’s favorite food group, the city is loaded with pizzerias. Bráz is one you don’t want to pass by without trying. This particular branch of the small chain is located on Rua Vupabussu, by the Empório Alto dos Pinheiros. It has a slightly higher price tag, but it’s worth it. You also can’t miss its younger sibling, Bráz Elettrica, located on Rua dos Pinheiros. Go for the lunch deal that includes a pizza, salad, and drink for around US$7.50.
Meats — Meats delivers on its namesake. It has the city’s best burger, a bold claim in a city with literally hundreds of burger restaurants. Don’t miss the lunch deal that runs from Monday through Thursday, which includes a burger, a drink, and chips or onion rings for around US$7.50. Menu favorites include the classic cheeseburger with extra bacon, the Po Po Pó chicken burger, and the Greenator. The chicken wings are also spectacular, and are a good option if you’re not in a burger mood.
Santa Clara — If it’s traditional Brazilian cuisine you’re looking for, look no further than Santa Clara, which is on Rua dos Pinheiros and set back slightly from the pavement in a yellow house. It’s selfserve in that you choose what you want and then weigh your plate to find out the price. This restaurant is particularly good on Wednesdays and Saturdays when feijoada (classic Brazilian bean and meat stew) is served. Santa Clara is only open at lunchtime.
Frida & Mina — Frida & Mina is an ice cream shop on Rua Joaquim Antunes and is immensely popular with locals and tourists alike. The ice cream is all natural and absolutely delicious. On hot days, expect to find long lines that wrap around the corner.
Neighbourhood: Vila Madalena
Tuju — In 2018, Tuju got its second Michelin star, and it’s easy to see why. Head chef Ivan Ralston uses local ingredients for an upscale, fine dining take on the food available in Brazil. As you would expect, prices are higher here, but the quality of the food makes the money paid completely worth it.
Banana Verde — Banana Verde is a haven for vegetarians and vegans. The restaurant focuses on organic produce for an entirely meat-free menu using traditional flavors from the state of Minas Gerais. Even the more ardent carnivores will find something they enjoy.
Saj — Saj has become hugely popular in São Paulo, and the chain now has four restaurants across the city. Serving Middle Eastern food in a cozy setting, this restaurant is great for a relaxed dinner with friends. The homemade Lebanese flatbread is fresh and delicious, as is everything else on the menu.
Tanka — Tanka is more of a buffet-style restaurant, and is seen as one of the best sushi joints in the neighborhood. Make sure to go hungry, as you pay for all you can eat — and you’re going to want to eat a lot. It has a slightly high price, but as long as you make the most of the buffet, you’ll be getting your money’s worth.
Tia Tia — Tia Tia is the type of restaurant that’s easy to miss, but when you venture inside, you’re fed with some of the best food you’ve ever had. Despite the uninspiring decor, this restaurant serves incredible Japanese food, and it’s worth making the trip to Liberdade just to go here. Try one of the sushi boats with a side of pork gyozas and thank us later
Cantina C…Que Sabe! — C…Que Sabe! is a traditional Italian restaurant and a can’t-miss sit-down spot for fresh pasta in São Paulo. All of the pastas are made on site, which is the same amount of care the chefs put into every dish. Expect to enjoy a lively atmosphere while you eat with the occasional live Italian band.
Pizzaria Speranza — A favorite of many top 10 São Paulo pizzeria lists, Speranza is one of the oldest traditional pizza spots in the city and was the first to make an Italy-approved classic Neapolitan margherita pie. If on the off chance you’re not feeling pizza, there’s also the tortano, a traditional Neapolitan bread filled with sausage.
Varanda — Varanda is the top steakhouse in São Paulo, without a doubt. Opened in 1996, Varanda serves hand-selected cuts of meat that are cooked just right, with a wildly attentive wait staff catering to your every need. And, of course, what’s a great steak without great wine? Varanda is well stocked on that front, too. You’re going to pay for it, but the prices are high for a reason.
Seen — Seen is part fancy place, part fine dining steak and seafood restaurant, and part sushi spot. Chef William Ribeiro uses the highest quality organic ingredients and well-sourced proteins. If you don’t have time for the full dining experience, stop by the specoa; beverage area and be treated to stunning views of the São Paulo skyline while you sip on a time-tested classic or one of Seen’s original drinks.
Nakka — Nakka is a Japanese restaurant that balances traditional and contemporary cuisine. The main event here is specialty sushi, but there are a few non-fish items on the menu as well. It’s the type of place where you can order a standard tuna roll right alongside sea urchin with quail egg. An eight-page special beverage menu makes sure you won’t go thirsty.
FASHION AND SHOPPING:
Not only does Brazil already possesses a monopoly on all the good things in life – beaches, sunshine, carnival, caipirinha – let’s not forget, they also hosted two of the biggest sporting events on the planet, the 2014 Fifa World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. And as one of the world’s fastest-emerging economies, with a current GDP annual growth rate of 5%, the country is also becoming a super power. So it’s little wonder that as Brazil’s national confidence swells, its fashion scene does too, thanks in no small part to its two major catwalk events: São Paulo fashion week (SPFW) and Fashion Rio.
THE HOTTEST DESIGNER TAILOR
You will need to book weeks ahead for exceptional made-to-measure tailoring from radical menswear designer João Pimenta. Three-piece suits, military jackets and macho skirts flirt with femininity and are crafted from hand-spun natural fabrics. It’s worth visiting if only to check out Pimenta’s atelier, which is contained in a three-storey redbrick townhouse with black-and-white family portraits and the tick of vintage sewing machines from the basement. Address: 1055 Rua Cônego Eugênio Leite, São Paulo.
TOP ONE-STOP SHOP
Cartel 011 is a hybrid hub which founders Cristian Resende and Fernando Sapuppo use to show off emerging Brazilian designers, as well as their own brand. Stock up on stylish tracksuits and sleek monochrome daywear – including T-shirt dresses, cropped jumpers and the perfect skinny trousers – plus lightweight wedges and funky trainers from the dedicated sneaker lab. There is also a café tucked away in a tropical courtyard, a co-working space upstairs and a walkway entrance that doubles as a gallery. Address: 517 Rua Artur de Azevedo, São Paulo.
THE COOLEST SUNGLASSES IN BRAZIL
Expect high fashion at high-street prices from Livo Eyewear, quite possibly the country’s most successful sunglasses start-up. The winning formula? Italian acetate, Brazilian design aesthetic and a dynamic presence via an online portal. Here at the company’s cool headquarters, friendly staff advise on Audrey Hepburn-style shades and reflective ravers in between ping-pong games in the back office. 272 Rua dos Pinheiros, São Paulo.
HOMEGROWN DESIGN HEROES
The two Rafas – Raffaele di Giuda Asselta and Raphael Dias – often man the counter at Diária so they can share stories about the designers they stock, nearly all of whom are Brazilian. There are Estela Miazzi’s watercolor paintings of whales, Lana y Couro’s wool-felt passport holders and the duo’s own brand of orange-and-clove candles. They also host monthly exhibitions of emerging artists at their in-house gallery. 1315 Rua Artur de Azevedo, São Paulo.
And this just in, Balmain, the French fashion house, headed by its beacon of light and creative director Olivier Rousteing, opens its South American flagship store inside the Cidade Jardim luxury mall in Sao Paulo. Now if all that doesn’t excite you to visit São Paulo, I know the gorgeous people and the music will. ✤
GO: VISIT WWW.QATARAIRWAYS.COM TO BOOK YOUR FLIGHTS TODAY.