By Alexandra Forbes
Although the bustling city of 19 million has long reigned as Brazil’s gastronomic and shopping meca, for years its restaurants remained an insider’s secret, as tourists preferred the sunnier and more laid-back cities to the North, such as Rio or Salvador. No more: the recent economic boom has drawn attention to the increasingly opulent metropolis boasting world-class restaurants, shops and hotels.
For seasoned foodies, no visit to São Paulo is complete without a visit to Maní (www.manimanioca.com.br) and D.O.M. (www.domrestaurante.com.br), restaurants which, in very novel ways, give little-known Brazilian ingredients a new guise.
Just as importantly, paulistanos (as São Paulo natives are referred to) saw their long-lived infatuation with sushi take flight: today, there are an eye-popping 600 Japanese restaurants in town. At the city’s premium Japanese restaurants, dish presentation and raw fish quality rival the best in Japan. Competing for the title of best sushiman in São Paulo are Jun Sakamoto (no website, tel. 55-11-3088-6019) – cerebral, temperamental, traditionalist, owner of the celebrated eponymous restaurant – and Tsuyoshi Murakami, a born showman whose wildly creative and artfully presented tasting menus served at Kinoshita (www.kinoshita.com.br) dazzle locals and tourists alike.
A great luxury hotel is one thing, but one where there are almost always well-known figures of the local business and arts crowds milling around the lobby at happy hour, drink in hand? Only at the Fasano (www.fasano.com.br) , to be sure, the most glamorous of the city’s growing number of five stars. It also holds the title of hotel with the best piano bar (where even big stars like Caetano Veloso have sung) and the poshest Italian restaurant in town (also called Fasano).
Worthiest competitors include the design-driven Emiliano (www.emiliano.com.br), a mere four blocks away – with rooftop pool, spa and helipad – and the Grand Hyatt (http://saopaulo.grand.hyatt.com) , favoured by the business crowd, located in the modern, office-tower-heavy Berrini district.
|Shopping Cidade Jardim|
BOUTIQUES - SHOPPING
It’s amazing how many new shopping centers pop up each year in the city, such as the Vila Olímpia, opened in 2010. The granddaddy of them all, the Shopping Iguatemi (www.iguatemisaopaulo.com.br), is going as strong as ever: it houses the Tiffany flagship and many of Brazil’s most desireable brands, like Carlos Miele and Cris Barros.
But no mall comes close to matching the new Cidade Jardim in sheer refinement and beauty. Its open-air, tastefully-landscaped esplanades are home to some of the world’s chicest brands, including the biggest Louis Vuitton and first Hermès stores in Latin America. Petrossian opened its first boutique there a few months ago. London-based Issa and the American Tory Burch are next.