3 Of The Best Restaurants For A Vegan in São Paulo

Table of Contents

Introduction

If you’re a vegan in São Paulo, all we have to say is: LUCKY YOU. São Paulo is fast becoming one of the best and easiest cities to visit as a vegan. During our visit there, we probably did very little except eat amazing food, and that went for my husband, Murray (the meat-eater) and me, the vegan.

To be honest, food in São Paulo in general is absolutely superb. São Paulo well and truly lives up to its reputation as a foodie city, so pretty much all of the food we ate was fantastic, but below are the three places that really stand out in our minds as the best for vegans.

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Is being vegan in Brazil easy?

In short, yes! It’s pretty easy! Especially in São Paulo, where you really do have your pick of cuisines, and most restaurants will have something to suit you.

If you’re visiting Brazil as a strict vegan however, we strongly recommend these vegan playing cards, which really saved our life (in Brazil and many other countries!!): they have ‘I am a vegan’ plus what you can and can’t eat translated into 52 different languages, so they are a real lifesaver, especially in rural areas where English is not commonly spoken.

If you’re worried about getting by in general, check out our full guide to eating vegan in Brazil, which has some helpful notes on what you can and can’t eat, but honestly it’s a bit of a misconception that eating vegan in Brazil is impossible. They’re actually a super vegan-friendly country these days!

Vegan paçoca from Fitó. This is a rice bowl with beans, plantain, coconut and banana peel used as a meat substitute
Vegan paçoca from Fitó

Food in São Paulo you must try

Quite honestly, where to start with this one? Like we said, São Paulo genuinely does everything it can to live up to its reputation as a foodie city.

Our interests in food in São Paulo were actually first aroused by the Anthony Bourdain The Layover in São Paulo. From that and the suggestions of our local São Paulista friends, here are the things we’d say vegans in São Paulo absolutely must try:

  • Feijoada – this is usually a meat dish, but actually there are lots of different restaurants in São Paulo now that sell vegetarian and vegan Feijoada, which is just as filling and delicious! It’s made predominantly from beans when it’s vegan.
  • Pizza! Yes, it does seem really weird that a food usually associated with Italy should be so high on a list of foods to try in Brazil, but honestly, São Paulo is practically famous at this stage for its excellent pizza. Vegan options are pretty wide-spread so definitely give it a go when you’re there
  • Tapioca – you can get it in deep fried cubes or more of a pancake style. Either way, it is delicious!
  • Acai – if you know Brazilian food, you probably know acai already. It’s like the King of smoothie bowls and is oh so tasty. Plus we love a naturally vegan dish.
  • Sushi and poke bowls – if you thought pizza was a strange choice, you’re probably thinking I’ve totally lost it now, but São Paulo is also genuinely known for its sushi and it’s really, really good there! São Paulo has the single largest concentration of Japanese citizens outside of Japan, so it’s really no surprise that Japanese food has taken hold of the city with such a vengeance
  • Vegan pão de queijo! Pão de queijo essentially means ‘cheese bread’, but surprisingly, you can now get vegan pão de queijo in São Paulo and it’s so worth it!

Additionally, you really can’t skip the coffee in São Paulo, it’s next level.

The 3 best restaurants for a vegan in São Paulo

Fitó

This was, without question of a doubt, the best restaurant we visited in our entire time in South America, let alone Brazil. Firstly, the food was incredible. They feature regional classics from the North of Brazil around the Pantanal, but with various spins on the traditional fare to make it more interesting.

What we especially loved about this restaurant is that they really do their part, both socially and for the environment. The menu changes seasonally, to incorporate local, in-season ingredients, and they also have a zero waste concept to their menu, meaning that some of their ingredients are really interesting. For example, I ordered a vegan rice bowl, which used banana peel as a meat alternative, and there was a vegan cocktail on the menu which used aquafaba (leftover water from cooking beans) instead of egg whites.

The café itself is super inclusive, and prides itself on being a safe space for everyone. It’s entirely run by women only (including non-binary and trans-women), right down to the founder and creator, chef Cafira, and is also seen as a safe haven for the gay and trans communities in São Paulo. We love a place that makes space for everybody!

Book here
Budget: midrange, has prices to suit most budgets

Fried okra covered in a sesame and peanut sauce. Served with a wedge of lemon on the side. Food for a vegan in São Paulo.
Sesame peanut okra

Momo Lamen Liberdade

Due to the large number of Japanese immigrants in Brazil, São Paulo is home to some of the best Japanese restaurants in the world. This was a complete revelation to us, but honestly one that was beyond welcome. Momo Lamen is (deservedly) the most popular Ramen spot in Liberdade (the Japanese district of São Paulo) and when we visited, there was a queue miles out of the door.

As far as we’re aware, there’s no means of booking, though by all means you can try through the email address on the website. Our advice would be to go (not on a weekend!) on a quieter day and be prepared to queue! Our wait time was 40 minutes, and worth every single one. There is only one vegetarian/vegan option, but that is more than most other ramen places within Liberdade, so that in itself is a blessing, but the flavour is ridiculously good, and feels super authentic. This is one we do not recommend you skip!

You can email here. Booking in advance does not seem to be possible. Go early to secure a spot.
Budget: affordable

The interior of a cafe - the walls are bright pink and the ceiling is covered with with hanging plants
Santiago Cafe Pompeia

Cafe Santiago Padaria Artesanal

This was our first stop in São Paulo and, WOW, what a way to start with a bang. This was the place that made us realise that everybody who had called São Paulo a foodie city did, in fact, know what they were talking about! It’s in the district of Pompeia, which is a little more residential than other areas, but it is worth a visit in its own right for its colourful houses and locally owned bakeries and cafes. Santiago is a small, but beautifully decorated space, with a punchy menu and some of the freshest food we’ve ever tried.

Our number one tip here is: do not skip the freshly squeezed fruit juice (which was to die for) and leave room for the pastries. There were multiple vegan options – to be honest, I think they had one in every section of the menu, which meant I never had to miss out!

If you’re not a Portuguese speaker, Google Translate is recommended as most of the staff don’t speak much English from what we saw. This one truly is a hidden gem that most tourists wouldn’t get to experience.

Booking does not seem to be possible online, but you can email here.
Budget: mid-range, should have options to suit all budgets

Vegan toast from Santiago cafe. Charred peppers on top of a slice of sourdough, There are crushed peanuts and a branch of rosemary on the top.
‘Vegan toast’ Santiago Cafe

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    Written by Emma

    Emma

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