Featured Hometown: São Paulo, Brazil

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With a population twice the size of the state of Missouri, São Paulo is the biggest city in the Americas and has a lot to offer. Boasting multiple historical and cultural spots, incredibly diverse food and intense nightlife, São Paulo has something to offer for everyone.

São Paulo, shown in red on a map of Brazil, created by Raphael Lorenzeto de Abreu

Culture and History

Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP)

This is one of the classic “must-sees” of São Paulo. The museum has a permanent collection with paintings and sculptures by international artists such as Renoir, Gauguin, Di Cavalcanti, Rafael, Botticelli, Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh and Gainesborough alongside masterpieces by Latin American greats like Diego Rivera, Candido Portinari and Anita Malfatti, but the building itself is also considered a landmark in the history of 20th century architecture.

Museu do Ipringa, photo by Luiz Coehlo
Museo de Ipiranga, photo by Luiz Coehlo

Museu do Ipiranga

São Paulo has over 100 museums, but there is one that almost every person who resides in that city has been to – the Museu do Ipiranga. Opened in 1895, the museum’s structure was inspired by the Palace of Versailles in France and is home to a series of painting from the colonial period in Brazil. The museum is also known for its beautiful gardens where locals like to spend afternoons. This is not one of the most famous museums in town, but it’s definitely a local favorite.  

Museu do Futebol

I could talk about different museums to visit in São Paulo for forever, so in order to show a little bit of my hometown’s variety the last museum I want to talk about is our soccer museum. The museum shows the history of soccer, Brazilian football legends and the World Cup since its beginning in 1930. It also has radio and movie clips from famous soccer games and even has a whole room dedicated to Brazil’s football “king” Pele.

Museo de Futebol, photo by Michael Peel

Food

If you looked up famous restaurants in São Paulo, you would get a variety of places – from well-known chefs to family owned joints. A special thing about Brazil is that we have such a diverse culture that there are so many good places with the same type of food served in different way. Unfortunately, I can’t talk about them all – here’s a list of places you have to eat at in São Paulo.

Mercado Municipal

Farmer’s markets are a big thing in São Paulo and the Mercado Municipal – Municipal Market of São Paulo – is almost a gourmet version of a farmer’s market with many stores selling fish, spices, different types of meat, bread and fruits from all over the world. But the best part is the restaurants. The top three foods you must try at the Municipal Market of São Paulo – also known as “Mercadão,” or big market – are the following:

Fabio Ochkroban
Monumento Mercado, photo by Fabio Ochkroban

Mortadella sandwich

With 10.58 ounces of mortadella – a large smoked sausage made of beef, pork and pork fat and seasoned with pepper and garlic – this huge sandwich brings people from all places to try it out. Many people can’t even finish it because of its size.

Codfish ball

Originally from Portugal, the deep fried “bolinho de bacalhau” is also really famous in Brazil. You can find it in almost every bar in Brazil as a snack to eat alongside with your beer, but at the Municipal Market of São Paulo you have codfish balls made with fresh cod in excellent quality.

Pastel

This is basically deep fried dough with filling. In São Paulo you can find the most different types of fillings in “pastel,” but the most common ones at the Municipal Market of São Paulo are mozzarella cheese, ground beef, cod fish and banana with caramel.

Bairro da Liberdade

This is one of the most famous neighborhoods in São Paulo, mostly because of its Asian-inspired theme. Brazil is home to the largest Japanese population outside Japan and that has a big cultural influence in the “Bairro da Liberdade,” or liberty neighborhood, with light poles like paper lamps, street signs with Japanese writing and Torii gates around the streets. There you can also find multiple Asian restaurants with Japanese, Korean and Chinese food.

Brazilian Barbecue

You can easily find a good barbecue place in Brazil – we even have food carts selling Brazilian barbecue in the streets as if they were hot dogs. But one of the best restaurants is Fogo de Chão – which also has a location in Downtown Kansas City.

Tropical Fruits

The one other thing you must try when you’re in Brazil is our fruits. Being a tropical country, we have a variety of fruits that are always fresh since they’re distributed by local farmers close to the consumer. If at any moment you feel like buying a snack, some fruit will not only be healthier but probably cheaper in Brazil.

Nightlife

São Paulo is also really famous for its nightlife – with options for people in every type of budget. There are many nightclubs with different types of music and bars that you can go to even if you’re not of legal drinking age – in Brazil it’s 18 years old – but still want to hang out with your older friends. Augusta Street during the day is known to be a great place for shopping, but during the night it is known by its nightlife – with clubs, bars and live music venues.

São Paulo has a lot to offer, and I could talk about the different things you can do, see and eat there, but the small list I’ve made here can give an idea of the city’s diversity and its options for all types of adventure.  

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