Some things are the same the world over, like salty snacks being the perfect partner for beer. And some things stay much the same across Brazil, too, like the ubiquitous boteco – that no-frills watering hole on every other street corner, where you’ll always find a cold beer, a bite to eat, and a fascinating slice of local life.
With São Paulo’s rich history of immigration, its botecos are as varied as its DNA, from Portuguese tascas, Italian cantinas and Japanese izakayas to the myriad local joints run by Brazilians from the length and breadth of the country.
Celebrating that rich culture, the long-running Comida di Buteco (‘boteco food’) competition invites judges and customers to vote for the city’s best botecos, based on everything from food, service and hygiene to the temperature of the beer. It hits São Paulo for the second time on 12 April until 12 May 2013, with similar competitions running consecutively in 15 other cities across Brazil, including Rio de Janeiro (read more on Time Out Rio).
Fifty establishments are participating, encompassing all kinds of places, from hole-in-the-wall spots with little more than a fridge and a deep-fat fryer to larger establishments, higher up on the sophistication scale.
They all have one thing in common however. ‘These are botecos with soul,’ says Comida di Buteco’s Eduardo Maya, a self-styled expert in traditional home cooking, who picked the shortlist. ‘At all of these botecos, the owners are in the kitchen cooking, or behind the bar,’ he says. ‘A real boteco starts off small, selling beer and serving the odd snack. The wife might know how to make a bolinho, or the husband does a nice steak, and things grow from there.’
Rua Amaral Gurgel 165, República (3223 6873/ amigoleal.com.br). Read the review
Rua Faustolo 463, Lapa (862 6167/ barvaladares.com.br). Read the review
Rua França Pinto 965, Vila Mariana (5083 5835/ asmineiras.com.br). Read the review
Bar do Corno
Rua Belmiro Braga 220, Vila Madalena (8183 2598). Read the review
Casa do Norte
Avenida Corifeu de Azevedo Marques 1332, Butantã (3722 1585). Read the review
Rua Isabel Dias 57, Mooca (2021 3097/ elidiobar.com.br). Read the review
Rua Ministro Ferreira Alves 131, Perdizes (2369 5657). Read the review
Papo, pinga e petisco
Praça Roosevelt 118, República (3257 4106). Read the review
Pé Pra Fora
Avenida Pompéia 2517, Perdizes (3672 4154/ pepraforabar.com.br). Read the review