13 Aug 2018 1811
Fernanda Meneguetti Devorável

São Paulo is all culture

Brazil's biggest city is vibrant, and beckons with outstanding multicultural spaces 

Museum of football, image and sound, of modern or sacred art; galleries which are well known in New York and Paris; institutes with full schedules. One side of the urban sprawl which interplays with theatre, memories and cuisine. After all, culture is this very melting pot, isn't it? São Paulo says it is, and is proud of it. Besides, it has places which embody this compelling mixture: 

Japan House

After London and Los Angeles, it came to São Paulo. Perhaps a slight injustice, since the Brazilian capital is home to the biggest Japanese population abroad, numbering more than one million. Quite honestly, the house designed by the famous Japanese architect Kengo Kuma has more than 2,500 square metres over three floors and multiple atmospheres including gardens, exhibition areas, lecture rooms, a library, restaurant, cafeteria and stores.

In fact, it is an undertaking of Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs to encourage the international community to better understand the country, which so uniquely combines 21st-century modernity with age-old traditions in the arts, technology and business. 

Through 30 September, the Japan House will be featuring the Aromas e Sabores (Aromas and Flavours)exhibit, an entertaining tour of the diverse scents and tastes of Japanese culture. And, if this whets your appetite, the casual "Junji" restaurant of award-winning sushiman Jun Sakamoto can be found on the last floor. 

Japan House Av. Paulista, 52, Bela Vista, tel. +55 11 3090-8900

Immigration Museum

From the very end of the 19th to the first decades of the 20th century, this exhibition space was a guesthouse where families of different nationalities lived together in harmony. Emotional images, objects and stories of countless immigrants who came to São Paulo can be found there. Not by accident! They will bring about new encounters, new experiences. Hence new exhibits, lectures, reproductions of a wide variety of films and workshops – including ceramics and embroidery, for example – will always be featured. Hence the beautiful patio with a lawn, garden, trees and the welcoming "Cantina" café.

A regular of the Immigration Museum since childhood, Chef Fellipe Zanuto serves coffee prepared using a variety of methods there, handmade delicacies (such as cookies and salted pies) and, on weekends and holidays, a brunch with jazz, with treats such as homemade bread with soft-boiled egg, sausage with mushrooms and banana and oatmeal waffles with red fruit jam and peanut butter.

Immigration Museum R. Visc. de Parnaíba, 1316, Mooca, tel. +55 11 2692-1866

Photo: Gabriel Cabral


At the top of one of the most iconic designs of architect Oscar Niemeyer, the new restaurant offers its visitors authentic Brazilian cuisine and a breathtaking panorama of the capital city's skyline, including Ibirapuera Park, the Obelisk of São Paulo, the Bienal Pavilion, the Oca and the Auditorium. In other words, Vista is a perfect excuse to browse through the museums, cultural spaces and green areas of the city's most famous park.

From the top of the University of São Paulo's Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC–USP), chef Marcelo Corrêa Bastos prepares unforgettable recipes such as Cambuquira tempura with corn, Jiquitaia à Pavlova with lemon curd and Cambuci ice cream, seafood rice and Leitoa à Pururuca. Just like eyes which have glanced over the selection of screens with Di Cavalcanti and Mac's Picasso before going up to the dining room, the stomach also has ample reasons to celebrate.

There's only one thing to take heed of: even if the line is long, don't be discouraged. The Obelisco Bar is a chance to try one (or several!) of the cocktails invented by the award-winning bartender Zulu. The "Mangadinha" with gin, mango purée with cardamom, sparkling water, lemon juice, Bahia orange and dill is one of the hits of this great bar. 

Vista Avenida Pedro Álvares Cabral, 1301, main gate, Ibirapuera, tel. +55 11 5082-3067 

Moreira Salles Institute

Two million photographs, thousands of musical recordings (including the very first recordings of Brazilian songs), tonnes of prints, watercolours, drawings and texts in the form of letters, poetry and other documents make up the collection of the Moreira Salles Institute (IMS), recently installed in a modern building on Avenida Paulista. 

Notwithstanding the renowned archive, the space serves as a young, vibrant centre for film festivals, national and international exhibitions, shows, courses and... cuisine. 

The Balaio can be found on the ground floor. Although marked by award-winning chef Rodrigo Oliveira – the backlands ever present in his Mocotó and Esquina Mocotó restaurants – it is located in Vila Medeiros, deep in the northern zone of São Paulo. On the city's main avenue, Rodrigo interacts with the entire country, offering new delicacies such as the pastry of vegetables and Serra da Canastra cheese, and dishes such as Canjiquinha with lamb and fig or vegan cashew Moqueca, made to be shared. For dessert, the cassava bread pudding goes perfectly with drip coffee.

Moreira Salles Institute Av. Paulista, 2424, Bela Vista, tel. +55 11 2842-9120

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