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What do paulistanos eat?

Café da manhã (breakfast)

Café da manhã means “morning coffee” – the expression reflects the importance of coffee production to Brazilian economy and lifestyle (until the mid-19th Century the expression for “breakfast” was pequeno almoço, “little lunch”).

For most paulistanos basic breakfast is composed by:

*a cup of hot café com leite (caffè latte) – also called média at bars and padarias (bakeries)

*a pãozinho francês (small loaf of French bread) with butter

*a glass of suco de laranja (freshly squeezed orange juice – industrialized juice is the rule only at hotels and fast food restaurants)

*a slice or portion of mamão (papaya) or another local fruit of the season like melão (melon), abacaxi (pineapple), manga (mango) and banana.

At hotel buffets and padarias (bakeries) you can also find or ask for some local breakfast improvers like:

*queijo frescal (fresh white cheese) – also called queijo minas, it is a Brazilian white and smooth fromage frais type cheese

*queijo prato (dish cheese) – a Brazilian yellow smooth cheese that looks like cheddar but has a milder taste, very used in snacks, subs and sandwiches.

*bolo de fubá (corn flour cake) – a favorite country style cake baked in two versions: with or without anise.

*pão de queijo (cheese bread) – small round chewy salted buns made of a cassava starch and cheese dough.


There are uncountable options for lunchtime in São Paulo, but padarias and some restaurants keep the prato do dia (dish of the day) tradition. A popular version of France’s menu du jour, it is also called comercial (commercial) because it was created as a cheap, previsible but pratical meal for downtown office and shopworkers in the early 20th Century. Portions are individual (small).

Mondays – Virado a Paulista: white rice, tutu de feijão (brown beans purée), braised spring greens and a fried egg.

Tuesdays – Bife a rolê: veal steak rolls cooked in tomato sauce, white rice, cooked brown beans, a little lettuce leaves and tomato slices.

Wednesdays – Feijoada: white rice with braised spring greens, a bowl of feijoada (Afro-brazilian pork and black beans casserole) and a peeled orange. A shot of caipirinha (shaken sugar cane spirits with lime juice) is usually served as courtesy.

Thursdays – Frango com macarronada: tomato sauce spaghetti and a piece of tomato sauce cooked chicken.

Fridays – Pescada frita: white rice, cooked brown beans, a little lettuce leaves with tomato slices and a fried single fish fillet.

Saturdays – Feijoada

There is no prato do dia on Sundays. In its origins, the prato do dia was served for workers only at lunchtime on workdays and in the past stores and offices didn´t open on Sundays.


Jantar (dinner)

Homely daily dinner for many families in São Paulo means a portion of:

*salada mista – lettuce, tomatoes and onions

*arroz e feijão – separately cooked and braised white rice and brown beans, eaten together

*bife – a thin salt and pepper seasoned pan-fried beef fillet (can be substituted by chicken breast fillet)

*sobremesa (dessert) options usually are salada de frutas (fruits salad) or the pudim de leite (condensed milk pudding)

See also:
- What do paulistanos eat?
- Padarias: more than bread - addresses
- Sao Paulo's Originals

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