French bistros to visit in São Paulo: find out where to experience the best of French cuisine in the capital
You bistros are an outstanding part of French culture and gastronomy. Where else can you find a quiet place to spend a few moments of peace in the daily hustle and bustle, accompanied by a good book and simple, tasty food?
What few know is that these spaces also exist here. And they are equally striking. Our report identified and cataloged the best bistros in Sao Paulo, those who remain faithful to the French format and produce food that no gourmet can fault.
But before revealing the mine map that reveals the chosen places, let's first contextualize. First, let's analyze the word itself: we know that the term “bistro” has become very popular in recent years and is used to refer to certain types of restaurants, or rather places to eat (some are so small and discreet that many do not judge the place as a “restaurant”).
The bistro was born in France during the 20th century. They were small places that had very limited menu options that changed daily. Owners used to display menus on blackboards and the food was pretty cheap.
The word “bistro” comes from the term “bwystra”, which means fast in Russian. When the Russian army invaded France during the Napoleonic war, they used to shout "Bwystra!" to the owners or waiters, demanding faster service because they needed to get back on the road. Over time, owners came to use the term to refer to their restaurants as a place with fast and efficient service.
In the beginning, these places to eat had a definite culinary proposal. They offered fast service and traditional dishes made with fresh ingredients. However, this trend is no longer limited to its country of origin and has expanded across the world, evolving to adapt to global trends and the current lifestyle.
Nowadays a bistro restaurant is an establishment where you can order gourmet food, without the formalities of an elegant restaurant, but with the guarantee of freshness and healthy elements. Identified by their size, they are small to maintain a high-quality, friendly environment. It is these singularities that popularized the concept, as they offer the opportunity for a delicious gastronomic experience in a relaxed atmosphere, with fast service and affordable prices.
But what about the bistros in São Paulo? Many of these places keep the tradition and are small, cozy and have a maximum of two or three branches. They are a mix of cafe and restaurant, and can be used with events for both formats, being the most popular cafe and the most formal restaurant.
Come with us on this gastronomic journey and discover the full potential of these true culinary gems that are the French bistros in Sao Paulo.
Saint Décor Café
Our first stop is in the Jardim Anália Fraco neighborhood, on the east side of the city. Here we find the Saint Décor Café, whose inspiration and ambiance is entirely derived from French Provence, a geographical region and historic province of southeastern France, which stretches from the left bank of the lower Rhône in the west to the Italian border in the east, with the Sea Mediterranean to the south. The largest city in the region is Marseille.
So it is not surprising that, upon entering the place, we feel as if we were in the company of great names in art who made the region known as the painters Paul Cézanne, Auguste Renoir, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh.
“Contemporary bistros have a more sophisticated air, without losing the essence of the personalized relationship that exists between the chef and the customers”, explains the official website. “The reduced size and informality, as well as the proximity to the customer, also allow the menu to be changed whenever it is deemed necessary to meet a suggestion from a customer or to the taste of the majority”.
The bistro has a varied menu that targets all the main moments of daily and everyday life, including Brunch, lunches, coffees, afternoon tea, romantic dinners, fondues, as well as typical French sandwiches and a coffee menu. The art nouveau style decoration and interior ambience make it a true São Paulo oasis.
- At where?
Rua Padre Landell de Moura, 152 – Jd. Analia Franco.
Telephones (11) 3796-7003/3796-7004. s
Second stop: Rua Augusta, in the commercial heart of São Paulo. This intimate bistro is located here, highly recommended by those who work mainly in the vicinity of other commercial spots such as Avenida Brigadeiro Faria Lima and the always busy Avenida Paulista.
With an enhanced look and a mouth-watering menu, it is an example of the complexity of this type of establishment: a bistro that leaves nothing to be desired compared to a medium/large restaurant.
“Our menu consists of typical dishes, prepared with the best quality ingredients and respecting traditional and family recipes, in addition to the high gastronomy touch of chef Alain Poletto”, explains the official website. Poletto is one of the partners and is also a kitchen engineer, master, teacher and consultant in gastronomy. The other partner is the weak-Brazilian Michel Siekierski, owner of the Yesh! restaurant, a highlight of Jewish and Mediterranean cuisine in the Pinheiros region.
The space is open for events and has a capacity for 40 people seated and 50 in cocktail format. The establishment also has audio and video equipment. It's a pleasure to sit in the upholstered armchairs and enjoy a relaxing time amidst the chaos of the city.
- At where?
Villa San Pietro, Rua Augusta, 2542 – Gardens.
Phone (11) 3063-1675.
Then we head to the Bela Vista neighborhood, where we find yet another hidden gem. Ça Va is located on a street behind the São Paulo Museum of Art, the famous Masp, and is considered small by visitors, who make a point of highlighting this aspect in the online reviews they leave on various sites.
The menu is advertised as being original from a French family, which gives a certain air of originality to the dishes offered, considering that this is the initial purpose of a bistro. Curiously, he doesn't have his own website, he sticks to being present only on the most popular social networks like Facebook or Instagram, where you can find photos of the dishes.
“The story of the Ça-Va restaurant begins with Antônio Carlos Cirelli, who was passionate about France”, says the caption of one of the photos on Instagram. “Located in the Jardins region, in São Paulo, the 'humble' establishment became known for the reality show Nightmare in the Kitchen, shown by Band. Unfortunately, after filming the show's third season, the previous owner, Mr. Antônio, was a victim of Covid-19, and his children sought out Erick Jacquin to offer the establishment. Otherwise, it would be closed.”
Jacquin, the current owner, has in his curriculum vitae at places such as the restaurant Président (haute cuisine) and Jojo Gastrô (delivery owned by him), in addition to the Buteco mdo Jacquin (on Avenida Brigadeiro Faria Lima) and the Italian Lvtetia. The beautiful frescoes of the place were recently restored by the artist Leandro Nassif, who was there recently and also gave the public a chance to see how his art is produced.
- At where?
Rua Carlos Comenale, 277 – Bela Vista.
Phone (11) 2574-0968.
Danielle Dahoui is known for being the presenter and judge of gastronomy programs on SBT. She was the first female chef to run the reality show Hell's Kitchen – Cozinha Under Pressure, a successful franchise in 18 countries.
Along with this television side, she runs Ruella, located in Itaim Bibi, south zone. For 23 years with its business considered one of the best in the city, the bistro was opened in 1996 “with very little investment and a great crowd against it – the neighborhood until then was unknown to the gastronomic circuit”, as stated on the official website.
The chef, born in Recife, Pernambuco, is the daughter of a French father and a mother of Italian descent. At the age of 18, she discovered her culinary vocation and soon after, she left for France without knowing how to speak French, determined to study photography and learn about gastronomy. Upon returning, he opened Ruella, today with three units. “He never took a gastronomy course, but he learned everything he knows at the bistros he worked in all sectors: kitchen, bar and lounge. His experience yielded great adventures and many stories to tell!
The place is very nice, with all the furniture and decoration objects recycled by her, including several collages of her photos around Europe. “She wanted everyone to feel comfortable and experience excellent artisanal cuisine with ingredients sourced from small local producers. That's why he thought about details: from the decoration, lighting, music, uniform, drinks list, wine list to the service”, explains the website.
The result is one of the most talked about and recommended bistros in São Paulo. Be sure to visit.
- At where?
Rua João Cachoeira, 1507 – Itaim Bibi.
Phones (11) 3842-7177/3846-6720.
The paradise of formigões who don't want a sweet treat after a meal is in Saúde, also in the south zone. The friendly little shop with three tables on the sidewalk and which is behind its candy factory makes a mille-feuille that has already been featured in the main publications in the country.
The factory offers its sugary delights to cafes, restaurants and events, and ended up opening a small shop that soon became an absolute success. You can feel the sugar in the air as you approach the corner of Rua Visconde de Inhaúma and Rua Caciques.
The French atmosphere is due to the slates with the names of the products and a variety of sweets and snacks. The macaron is another highlight, especially the Baileys, made with the liqueur filling the candy produced from almond sigh. Want another flavor? You can choose: it has bluberry cream, hazelnut, red fruits, chocolate, chocolate with mint, caramel, pistachio, among others. Temptation eventually overcomes even the most dedicated.
There are also flavors of Brazilian cuisine, such as macaron de pé de moleque, pumpkin with coconut, orange blossom and even caipirinha. Other options include cakes in pieces, tartlets, choux and the eternal bombs, mandatory in any self-respecting pastry shop.
For snacks, there are croissants stuffed with ham and cheese, turkey breast and the incredible and super little known almond croissant, as well as three-cheese quiches, leek, spinach with ricotta, turkey breast with ricotta and Quiche Lorraine, with bacon, ham and cheese. Go prepared: there is no diet to resist!
- At where?
Rua Visconde de Inhaúma, 455 – Saúde.
Phones (11) 3459-2996 or 98916-1628 (Whatsapp).
Paris 6 Classic
Last stop: Jardins, south zone. Precisely in what is considered the most famous bistro in São Paulo. The Paris 6 Classique is the closest thing to a French example in the smallest details and also has a long history of appearances in the specialized media.
The menu is a spectacle on its own. It includes incredible dishes such as Petit Brie Rôti à “Thais Braz” (creamy mini brie served hot in a charming iron pan, topped with the classic Paris 6 apricot jam and toasted almonds), Bruschettas Caprese à “Walter Casagrande” (prepared with baked buffalo, with tomato concassé and basil) and “Camila Camargo” Brie pastries (with house-made pepper jelly), among other delights.
Paris 6 is part of a network of eight branches in São Paulo, two in Guarulhos and one more store in each of the following locations: Santo André, Barueri, São José dos Campos, Ribeirão Preto, Campinas, Rio de Janeiro, Curitiba, Nova Lima, Vitória, Goiânia, Brasília, Campo Grande, Cuiabá, Salvador and Fortaleza.
The Classique is the most famous. The floor and walls are reminiscent of the belle époque with a mosaic panel by the artist Isabel Ruas and makes the client sure that, no matter how much time passes, Paris will be the eternal city of Light and love. Salute!
At where? 1240 Haddock Lobo Street – Gardens. Telephone (011) 3085-1595. Site: www.paris6.com.br.
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