São Paulo, Brazil, may not be an average traveler's chosen destination. It definitely doesn’t compete with Rio de Janeiro for the title of “marvelous city.” And while São Paulo doesn’t offer an array of natural attractions like the water falls of Foz de Iguaçu or all the wonders you'll find in Salvador, it is quite notable as one of the largest metropolitan and economic hubs of the world. It is overwhelmingly considered the gourmet capital of Brazil, offering over 12,500 restaurants representing more than 42 different ethnicities which makes the city a top destination for any foodie.
And for anyone who appreciates food, a visit to São Paulo Municipal Market, or Mercadão (Big Market) as it is dearly called by locals, is a must and a delight for all senses. At Mercadão not only you can see fruits that you never dreamed existed but you can try all of them as the sellers offer free samples for buyers. Other offerings include meats, olives, cheeses, dried fruits and nuts, spices and almost everything a gourmand heart desires.
The magnificent 135,000 square-foot building that hosts the Mercadão also offers over 23 restaurants and food stalls where one can sample delicious food from all reaches of vast Brazil and the world. Make sure to try a pastel at Hocca, famous for its Cod Fish Pastel. Pastel is a popular savory snack in Brazil made with a fried thin and crisp spring-roll-like wrap filled with a variety of filling choices, including palm heart which is my personal favorite.
If in São Paulo, make sure to stop by the Mercadão at Rua da Cantareira, 306.