While Rio provides a ‘love at first sight’ experience for most first time visitors, São Paulo can take a little longer to impress. But while it doesn’t have Rio’s beaches and good weather, SP makes up for that with big city style and multicultural eating choices.

First off, do not miss the Mercado Municipal (map) for a great selection of tasty treats – go hungry and see if you can manage a monster Mortadella sandwich and a Pastel de Bacalhau! Just take care of the ‘free fruit samples’ scam. A stall holder may offer you loads of ‘free’ fruit samples – it all seems great until it’s time to leave. Then you’ll be expected to purchase something – you’ll look for the cheapest item available (some grapes maybe), they’ll weigh it and announce that the price is something crazy expensive.

Here are some things to look out for when you visit Rio’s big brother:

Mocotó (map): Nestled among far fancier places on the Latin America’s Top 50 List is this a fantastic restaurant specialising in dishes from Northeastern Brazil. It’s a bit of a trek to reach, but once you try all the delicious items on the menu (if you eat pork then don’t miss the torresmo) it’ll be worth it. This place gets really busy so aim for a late afternoon lunch to avoid a long wait for a table.

Aska (linkmap): Amazing ramen and ridiculously low prices – no wonder this place gets busy. Put your name on the list and then go and browse the shops for 20 minutes.

Lamen Kazu (linkmap): Another really excellent ramen place in Liberdade.

Rong He (linkmap): Excellent Chinese food in a proper no-frills restaurant in Liberdade. Avoid the lunchtime rush or expect to wait ages.

A Casa do Porco (linkmap): This place has been making waves among carnivores across Brazil. Chef Jefferson Rueda takes pigs seriously and serves up an amazing variety of inventive porcine delights.

Twelve Bistro (linkmap): If you’re in the mood for a serious burger (topped with foie gras anyone?) and some excellent beers in a cosy atmosphere then give this place in Vila Madalena a try. They also do an excellent Scotch Egg (bolovo).

If you feel like pushing the boat out then make reservations at D.O.M. and Maní for fine dining elegance with a price tag to match. For more ideas, check out the ExtremeFoodies page for São Paulo.

São Paulo