By Lise Alves, Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Thousands of visitors are expected to arrive in this week in São Paulo, the largest metropolis in South America, for the World Cup which starts on Thursday, June 12th. Some will stay for the duration of the games, while others make their way to other host cities, but here are a few not-to-be-missed restaurants in a city known for its culinary excellence.
The eatery Consulado Mineiro (Praça Benedito Calixto 74) serves some of the best food from Minas Gerais state in the city, like Tutu Especial (mashed beans with sausage and eggs, pork loin, toasted cassava flour with banana, cabbage, and rice) or the traditional Triângulo Mineiro (sun dried beef in butter with beans, cabbage, french fries, and rice).
The menu has English explanations of the various dishes. For desert try Romeu & Julieta (guava marmalade with fresh cheese), arroz doce (rice pudding) or abobora com coco (pumpkin with coconut). Prices for main dishes range from R$70 to R$95, with some easily serving two.
Ana Luiza Trajano, chef at Brasil a Gosto (Professor Azevedo do Amaral, 70) has prepared a special menu for the World Cup, featuring typical dishes from the twelve cities hosting the games. Menu samplers (R$99) for the month of June include tapioca (manioc starch with sun dried meat and coalho cheese) from Natal and piracuí dumplings (typical fish in the Amazon region) from Manaus, and include two caipirinhas (cachaca based drink).
“The fruits used in the caipirinhas are from the corresponding regions,” says general manager of Brasil a Gosto, Nicole Bornhousen. “They include the cashew fruit, carambola, caja and bergamot, typical fruits of Brazil.”
Those who want to go to a famous Brazilian churrascaria, Fogo de Chão (Rua Augusta 2077) is considered one of the best in the city. The all-you-can-eat buffet (R$98) features every type of meat from lamb to pork to beef. The meat is slowly cooked in a large hole in the ground, as is the tradition amongst cattle herders in Rio Grande do Sul.
As for accommodation, São Paulo city has the largest number of hotels rooms in the country, with prices varying from very R$200 to more than R$4,000 per night and most still have rooms available.
Pablo Torres, communications coordinator for FOHB (Hotel Operators Federation of Brazil) says that a May 20th survey showed that São Paulo had a 31 percent occupancy rate for the World Cup, which according to him translates into a lot of hotel rooms occupied.
“Although the city has the lowest occupancy rate of the host cities, we have 42,000 hotel rooms in the city, by far the highest number of hotel accommodations in the country, so that this occupancy rate still translates into 78,000 reservations.”
According to Torres, last minute reservations are likely to increase occupancy rates but visitors should find no difficulty in booking a room in São Paulo to fit their budget. According to the Ministry of Tourism 1.9 million tourists are expected to participate in World Cup events (games and Fan Fest). The ministry forecasts that tourists will spend a total of R$4.05 billion in Brazil during the month-long event.
The 2014 World Cup is set kick-off in São Paulo on Thursday, June 12th, at 5PM local time with the hosts facing eastern European nation Croatia. The game will be played at the Arena Corinthians in São Paulo, a brand new stadium built for the FIFA World Cup.