Heading to São Paulo or Rio and want to try the “crème de la crème” of Brazilian cuisine? Restaurant guidebook publisher Michelin just unveiled its latest star ratings for Brazil. Since the country’s first publication last year, Alex Atala’s D.O.M. is the only two-star establishment in São Paulo, and there are four new one-star rated places in two other major cities.
Below you will find the hottest spots, according to Michelin 2016, to indulge in a journey of tropical flavor.
*** D.O.M (São Paulo)
Chef Alex Atala’s philosophy of using native Brazilian ingredients in fine dining makes D.O.M the most prestigious restaurant in the country, considered the best in South America since 2006 by Restaurant magazine and included in the S.Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Expect a menu with unconventional and wonderful Amazonian herbs, fruits, flowers, fish, and even insects served on small plates containing two raw unseasoned ants atop a one-inch cube of pineapple. Prices (around U$200 per person with wine pairings) reflect the cost of transporting ingredients from remote parts of Brazil under eco and social responsibility. domrestaurante.com.br
**Eleven Rio (Rio de Janeiro)
Featuring international cuisine by chefs Joachim Koerper and Paulo Leite, the Rio version of the successful Eleven restaurant in Lisbon brings seasonal farm-to-table cuisine. It’s a menu of senses, one that doesn’t just explore the palate, but also the sight. Dishes are offered à la carte, but the best bet is to go for their tasting menu, at around U$100 per person. elevenrio.com.br
**Esquina Mocotó (São Paulo)
Under the radar even to locals, this restaurant is located in an unconventional area in São Paulo, and it’s popular among foodies that wait in line to eat chef Rodrigo Oliveira’s creations on Brazilian cuisine. The menu options are always a surprise, as Oliveira changes it according to the season. The recipes are inspired by the Northeastern Sertão with ingredients mixing land and sea, and prices are quite reasonable. You should also visit Mocotó, the pioneer restaurant of the family, neighboring Esquina, and under the direction of Rodrigo Oliveira’s father, Seu Zé. mocoto.com.br
** Kan Suke (São Paulo)
Kan Suke may be a Japanese restaurant located inside a shopping mall but, in the Oriental gastronomic universe of São Paulo, nothing could be more peculiar than this tiny place opened only two years ago. The reason is chef Keisuke Egashira, or itamae, as the Japanese say. A master in his art, he slices fish like no one. The chef uses dark vinegar to season the rice, which gives a darker color to the oniguris. Even though Japan is located on the other side of the world, Egashira tries to emulate everything as if he was still at Kan of Kawasaki and Tokyo, where he worked for 25 years. Opt for the tasting menu at around U$65 per person. Rua Manoel da Nóbrega, 76 – Galeria Ouro Branco – loja 12 – Paraíso – São Paulo – SP
**Tête á Tête (São Paulo)
The charming restaurant of chef Gabriel Matteuzzi offers dashing recipes, several of them inspired in Spanish contemporary cuisine. On the ever-changing menu, an example of his creative force is the seafood ceviche with tucupi and passion fruit. teteatete.com.br
The Michelin 2016 Rio & São Paulo guide also features Bib Gourmand selections (less expensive restaurants recognized as great values) and hotel recommendations, totaling 160 restaurants and 44 hotels between the two cities. Check out viamichelin.com