The delicious wonders of São Paulo’s Mercadão

20 Jul

Yummy in my tummy is all I can say about this post…

As we approach the weekend again, I thought it would be appropriate to write Part 2 of my long weekend (if you haven’t done so yet, check out part 1)! So if anyone happens to be in São Paulo and is looking for a good, I mean DELICIOUS bite, read on!

When it comes to my friends and I, a great portion of our plans are devoted to food. While we were having dinner on Sunday, we were already thinking about where to have lunch the next day! We came to a consensus pretty fast when someone blurted out the word “Mercadão.” If you are not familiar with São Paulo, the “Mercadão,” or Mercado Municipal, is the city’s traditional market, selling specialty foods and groceries, dating back to 1933.

Façade of the São Paulo Market from Rua da Cantareira

I had been there many times before with friends and family or even on school trips, and so, going to the Mercadão had become something ordinary. I only realized my passion for these local markets after I spent a year abroad in Spain. I fell in love with La Boqueria in Barcelona, Valencia’s Central Market, and the gourmet San Miguel in Madrid. While I relished the local produce overseas, it took me back to the days of mortadella sandwiches at the Mercadão.

La Boqueria in Barcelona

Valencia’s Central Market

Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid

What I love about these markets goes beyond the delicious food you eat; the whole environment  including its architecture is fascinating!  The fresh produce coming in, chefs buying products for their restaurants, regular people grocery shopping, and family’s looking for a good lunch!

Fresh fruit at Mercado de San Miguel, Madrid

These markets, through their architecture, tell part of a city’s history. In the case of the Mercadão, the ecletic style of Brazilian architect Ramos de Azevedo shine’s a light on São Paulo in the 1930s. The façades were designed by Felisberto Ranzini and the magnificent stained glass windows (picturing different aspects of food production) by Conrado Sorgenicht Filho. The building underwent renovations in 2004, when the façades and windows were restored, and a mezzanine was added to allow for different food and beverages quiosques.

One of the stained glass windows. Image courtesy of ARTExplorer

Mezzanine. Image courtesy of http://saopauloparainiciantes.com.br

Since then the Mercadão has become a meeting point for locals and tourists, and our destination that Monday. We went straight to a corner where you’ll find the Hocca Bar, famous for its pastel de bacalhau, and the Bar do Mané, known for the traditional sanduiche de mortadela. If you haven’t eaten these yet, it’s something you definitely want to add to your list! The sanduiche de mortadela from Bar do Mané is about 250g of mortadella meat layered on what we call French bread, served cold. However, there are variations with cheese, served warm (my favorite!). We also had the delicious sanduiche de pernil and pastel de camarão! Alongside some cold beer, it was a perfect lunch!

Pastel de Bacalhau: seasoned codfish with olives and portuguese olive oil

Mortadella Sandwich: 250g of mortadella meat

Pernil Sandwich

There is much more to be explored and tasted at the Mercadão! The fruits are a must, especially if you are not from Brazil and really want to get a taste of our amazing flavors!

The place is usually packed so be sure to go in a good mood and get there early if you are looking to get any of the few tables! If you are looking to extend the visit around the area, the Pinacoteca and the Museu da Língua Portuguesa are a few steps away!

To get to the Mercadão, get down at São Bento metro station, cross 25 de Março and voilá!

Happy eating!

– Randa

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