I figured after all of the doom and gloom posts about the violence in Brazil, it was time to change gears and share about one of my favorite things here—padarias!! In Portuguese, padaria means bakery, similar to the panadería in Spanish, but they are a bit different.
For one thing, padarias don’t just sell bread and pastries like in Spain, rather, they have basically everything imaginable! You can order anything from bread, soup, pizza, and cakes, to coffee, fresh squeezed juice from Brazilian fruit, or even a full out meal of feijoada. They also have excellent Brazilian salgado (salty) pastries like coxinhas, which are similar to croquetas in Spain. Amazing, convenient and tasty. Padarias are the perfect combination of a diner in New Jersey with a Spanish bakery, yet they are uniquely Brazilian.
Similar to diners, they are often open 24 hours a day, are fast, efficient, and offer good quality food (most of the time). I’m not sure if padarias are just a Sao Paulo thing, but I’ve mostly seen them around the city and state of Sao Paulo. Every neighborhood has a padaria, and similar to Spanish culture, Brazilian families venture out daily to the local padaria to buy fresh bread. However, Brazilians don’t eat bread with every meal, like Spaniards (rice replaces bread for Brazilians), rather, they eat bread for breakfast, or with coffee in the afternoon.
One thing that is interesting about padarias, is that they typically run on a system where you are handed a plastic token as you walk in. Then, the waiter enters everything you order electronically into the token. When ready to leave, instead of asking for a check, you simply walk to the exit cashier, typically blocked by a turnstall, hand them your token, pay and leave. It is super efficient, and I’ve never seen anything like it in the USA. Then again, I haven’t lived there for a few years, so perhaps I am behind the times, and these types of places really do exist there.
Padarias have certainly made it easier for me to adapt to life in Brazil. I rarely find myself missing food in the USA here, mostly because a lot of the foods that I used to crave when I lived in Spain, can be found at padarias. Often in Madrid, I would find myself just wanting a cheap bowl of chicken noodle soup, a salad, and sandwich. While those items could be found there, it wasn’t quite as easy as it is here, with padarias on every corner.
If you are ever in Brazil, padarias are a must visit. Some of my favorites include:
Bella Paulista This is a padaria open 24 hours a day, and it is almost always packed. Many Paulistanos go to this padaria after a weekend night out on the town to eat with friends before going home. It’s also a great place to meet and eat due to its convenient location near Avenida Paulista, one of the major streets in the center of the city.
Casablanca There are actually multiple Casablanca’s in the Sao Paulo metro area, but my favorite is the one in my neighborhood of Morumbi. They have great juice, especially suco de abacaxi e hortelá. (pineapple and mint juice), and best of all, a great soup bar.
Real This is a padaria in the town of Sorocaba, about an hour outside of the Sao Paulo city limits. While few of you will venture to this smaller city, if you are ever there, Real is a must visit. They have some of the best Brazilian pastries that I have ever tried, and they are also open 24 hours a day.
These are just to name a few, and I’m convinced that there are great padarias that I haven’t tried yet, but I will keep looking out for the best one in Brazil! Also, I’m fairly certain there are padarias in areas of the USA with high Brazilian populations, like Boston or Miami, but if there aren’t, I think they could be very successful because of their efficiency and quality. Hmm, maybe that’s what I’ll do next! Who wants to open a padaria in the USA with me?