We’ve been to plenty of hole-in-the-wall restaurants in our time, and had some thoroughly memorable food inside them. We’re talking steamy cafés down London sidestreets, 70-rupee thalis in Mumbai markets, and tiny taquerias in Mexico City. Practically made for the solo diner, tiny lunchspots are havens for people-watching, where you can drop in, find a spot, and watch the world drift past.
But the miniscule Z Deli Sanduíches takes the genre to a whole new level. Sleeker than any mini lunchspot we’ve seen before, all sumptuous wood and cool white curves, it’s all about über-gourmet sandwiches, made with the sort of dedication to the fine art of the sandwich that São Paulo is crying out for – albeit at heart-stopping prices.
Sit at the triangular bar and watch as your order comes together – we went for the arenque sandwich (R$27): a perfect tower of sliced tomatoes, raw onion and pickled herring fillets on rye. People-watching be damned: our eyes were fixed on our lunch as the chef turned his attention to the bread, slicing it to perfection before tenderly lifting the filling onto it. A slick of herby sour cream, half a gherkin and a sprinkling of herbs finished the masterpiece off.
We, in turn, finished it off with relish and a perfect, creamy little espresso before emerging, happy – and a good R$40 lighter – into the discreet bustle of this elegant corner of Jardins.