You needn’t walk further than the nearest decent padaria (bakery) to get a good Brazilian breakfast buffet. But if at the weekend you only climbed into bed around breakfast time, or if you just prefer your first meal to be an all-day event, then São Paulo has a handful of good spots where you can linger over an indulgent brunch. So grab a newspaper and settle down for bacon, pancakes, any-which-way eggs, plus coffee or a Bloody Mary at one of our pick of the city’s best brunch spots.
Super-size it American-style at Higienópolis’s 210 Diner – but keep your sunglasses on until you’re past the blinding glare of the all-chrome exterior. Once inside, choose a red leather booth to sink into and consider your options. It’s really all about the eggs here: have them fried, scrambled, with smoked salmon, with bacon, with sausage, in an omelette: you name it, they’ll make it. We went for the eggs Benedict (R$25) – a brunch classic created by New York socialite Samuel Benedict as the perfect hangover cure – which was let down by an overly-vinegared and nearly-cold Hollandaise – an almost unforgiveable crime at brunch time.
For tip-top waffles and pancakes, American bar-cum-restaurant P.J. Clarke’s fits the bill nicely at their Sunday breakfast buffet (R$33, 9.30am-12.30pm). The waffles are light and crunchy, and served with either maple syrup or cinnamon apple. You'll find some classic egg options, too, though keep a strategic eye on the kitchen and reload your plate when there's a fresh batch. The distinct lack of daylight and endless coffee refills can be just the ticket for sore heads.
For excellent eggs, a fresh cup of coffee, and a bright and breezy vibe to blow the cobwebs away, Santo Grão on Rua Oscar Freire is the place to go. The hollandaise sauce on the smoked salmon eggs Benedict passed the test comfortably: light, warm and running down the sides of two poached eggs on toasted muffins with spinach and smoked salmon (R$22). Those with less need for substantial sustenance can keep it lighter with a fresh fruit salad (R$16). Our tip? Avoid the huevos rancheros (R$25.50), which come smothered in an orange sauce masquerading as Cheddar.
A few blocks away, it’s an out and out grease-fest at Irish pub O’Malley’s, where the Celtic breakfast (R$29) is served all day every day, laden with eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, toast and baked beans – yes, some people do indeed eat feijão for breakfast. Not for the faint hearted.
Vila Madalena’s recently-opened Rothko brings out big guns of its own with the Fool’s Gold Loaf, also known as the ‘Elvis sandwich’. The monster – which consists of a hollowed-out loaf of bread loaded up with an entire jar of peanut butter, a jar of jelly (or jam, depending on which side of the Atlantic you’re from) and a pound of bacon – once reportedly drew the King of Rock‘n’roll on his private jet all the way from Memphis to Denver for a fix.
Mercifully, Rothko have created a more manageable burger-sized version of the sandwich (R$16) which, along with other brunch options such as eggs Benedict (R$19), scrambled eggs and smoked salmon (R$19), and American-style pancakes with fruit salad (R$16), can be devoured respectably late into Saturday and Sunday afternoons, from midday to 5pm.
The hair of the dog (that bit you; or in other words, the first drink of the day, to cure a hangover) is also in order at Robin des Bois in Pinheiros, where keen brunchers can tuck into either eggs Benedict or Norwegian eggs (poached egg and hollandaise sauce on smoked salmon instead of ham) served with a choice of either a perfectly-seasoned Bloody Mary or a fizzy mimosa (served Sunday midday to 4pm, R$36 set price including a drink). While the emphasis is more on quantity (two eggs and muffins come laden with a plateful of curried potatoes) than quality, this cosy restaurant is a great place to slowly digest the weekend’s events.
Prices are correct as of November 2011
210 Diner is at Rua Pará 210, Higienópolis (3661 1219, 210diner.com.br). Read more on 210 Diner
P.J. Clarke’s is at Rua Doutor Mário Ferraz 568, Itaim Bibi (3078 2965, pjclarkes.com.br). Read more on P.J. Clarke's
O’Malley’s is at Alameda Itú 1529, Jardim Paulista (3086 0780, omalleysbar.net).
Robin des Bois is at Rua Capote Valente 86, Pinheiros (3063 2795, robindesbois.com.br). Read more on Robin des Bois
Rothko is at Rua Wisard 88, Vila Madalena (3032 4295). Read more on Rothko
Santo Grão is at Rua Oscar Freire 413, Jardim Paulista (3082 9969, santograo.com.br). Read more on Santo Grão