There’s something to be said for the not-quite-sleepy suburb of Vila Mariana: it’s not as chic as Jardim Paulista or nearly as visited as Vila Madalena, but if you’re looking for a relaxed weeknight out in an unassuming part of São Paulo, Vila Mariana could be your best bet. With a multitude of chopperias and botecos doubling as full-service restaurants, this discreet neighborhood just off the end of Avenida Paulista offers many choices within a few short blocks south of the Ana Rosa Metrô station.
Go west, young drinker, past the thickly residential streets around Rua Joaquim Távora (a right turn off the main drag of Rua Vergueiro), and you’ll be greeted warmly by a stretch of drinking establishments, heralded by two situated on opposite corners: Barxaréu and Paróquia. Barxaréu’s tight quarters are crammed with students from the nearby ESPM marketing school, but seating can likely be found either in the intimate barroom or at sidewalk tables wrapping around the outside. And although the place might be a bit cramped, the plates are not. Everything is big. Try the shrimp and gorgonzola pastéis especiais.
Across the street at Paróquia, a high-ceilinged, tongue-in-cheek Catholic-themed bar outfitted with holy iconography, candles, and a menu quoting Genesis, you’ll find a slightly younger clientele than most others in the area. Paróquia’s standard fare of fried snacks, seafood platters, and risottos is offset with a few unexpected menu choices like frog legs and crab pastel. Enjoy with a healthily collared beer.
Two blocks down on Távora, stop in for a chope at Bar da Vila. The attentive waitstaff will have a beer in your hand before you sit down. Join the mature crowd unwinding after work with a choice from the generous whisky selection and a plate of savoury bolinhos de arroz (rice balls with cheese).
Around the block on Rua França Pinto, As Mineiras offers daily specials like a Thursday 2-for-1 caipirinha deal – score! Folk art chickens and bottles of hot peppers from Minas Gerais adorn shelves around the bar and the adjacent general store. Mineiro staples like corn meal pastel de angú and bolinhos de feijão (bean balls) complement a cachaça menu with an impressive thirty-plus varieties.
Cross back over to the east side of Rua Vergueiro for the legendary caipirinhas at Veloso. They live up to the hype with flavours as varied and unlikely as jabuticaba (a grape-like fruit) and tangerine with long, hot peppers. The plump yet delicate bolinhos de bacalhau are the perfect accompaniment.
As Mineiras is at Rua França Pinto 965, 5083 5835, asmineiras.com.br.
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Bar da Vila is at Rua Joaquim Távora 1322, 5539 4887, bardavila.com.br.
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Barxaréu is at Rua Joaquim Távora 1150, 5539 2444, barxareu.com.br.
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Paróquia is at Rua Joaquim Távora 1139, 5572 7071, paroquiabar.com.br.
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Veloso is at Rua Conceição Veloso 56, 5572 0254, velosobar.com.br.
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