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Aug 3, 2011 12:20 PM

Porto Alegre Safe Eats

Travelling abroad to a country that you cannot communicate with the locals leaves you desperate at least for a good meal! There are many suggestions for Rio, SP and Buenos Aires, but Porto Alegre is a city that is not very tourist friendly and hard to navigate. I have been visiting my husband's family here for 7 years and now live here. If you find yourself in Porto Alegre, feel safe in eating in these great places.

Churrasco- what everyone has to eat in cow (gado) country. If you can't go to someone's house:
-BARRANCO- ( best traditional all-around churrascaria
-SANTO ANTONIO- ( meat for four people, churrasco so tender it is like steak. Also they have the best salada mista, all kinds of lettuces, herbs, steamed vegetables, big chunks of fresh hearts of palm.
-KOMKA- ( cheapest place to eat really good churrasco and roasted chicken, lunch and dinner.

Galeto- Italian roasted chicken, fried polenta, pasta and bitter greens. simple, but a must!
-DON NICOLA- since 1964, they have been making their famous pressed chicken (frango prensado) in a charming old home on a green plaza, somewhat romantic.
-MAMMA MIA- Moinhos Shopping, best chicken I have had yet and even the fried polenta has flavor!! Don't be afraid of it being in a food court in a fancy mall, it has a nice restaurant inside.
-GALETERIA VENETO- ( most famous one, haven't tried it yet. local chain.

-LANCHERIA DO PARQUE- best fresh juice (suco) in the city, try the manga first. All around good Brazilian fast food. Xis, version of hamburger pressed. Bauru, same thing, but with better meat and bigger usually. Canja, good homemade chicken soup. Carreteiro, rice dish with beef that is traditional in the south of Brazil. Open late on weekends. Artist/ musician hang out.

-GAMBRINUS- ( best all around traditional restaurant in the historic Central Market (Mercado Público). Here you can get anything you have missed. Filés, feijoada, fresh fish, and great daily specials at lunch. Also, one of the only places open all day, you will pay a little more, but the quality is top. So if you miss the 12pm-2:30pm window for lunch you can still go here and eat well.

Vegetarian lunch- contrary to the big carnivore culture, many a gaucho opts for vegetarian, indian-inspired at times. No menus, just one dish different everyday.
-SUPREM- ( indian food is a little bland in Brazil, but at least this food is fresh and good. They have different homemade hot sauces if you ask for "pimenta".
-OCIDENTE- ( live music venue by night, popular veggie hang by day. This trendy local hang also has only one daily special and you can ask for a whole portion (inteior) or a half (meio) which is enough for one person.

Lunch- with a strong buffet culture, it is hard to know which are good and which will give you food poisoning (has happened to me many times). Again, set your clock to 12pm-3pm latest or you will be doomed to a hot dog on the street....maybe not even that until 5pm.
-MEU CANTINHO- ( everyday it's fresh, homemade (comida caseira) and has a large variety. Salad bar rocks!
-SABORALE- ( very cozy atmosphere, small intimate restaurant with plated daily specials. Chef Ale grew up in a family of chefs from Sao Paulo and specializes in locally sourced food.

Those are some places to start. If anyone has any specific questions, please feel free to ask. I will try to direct you to the best. You can google or get recommendations to other restaurants that are also good and maybe more expensive. I tried to make a list where locals go to eat good food and are not easily found on the internet. Please add if you know more places!!

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  1. this is very timely, I am going to PA this weekend, and was going to look for information. a couple of questions - where is the best fejuada in town? can you recomend a good meat place charasco (pardon my horrible spelling). if I am going to have 2 days, say 3-4 meals, what are the top things to eat there? thank you so much!

    1 Reply
    1. re: odyseus

      Look above, I already listed the best churrasco places. Just read the review above and you will have all the answers to your questions. These are my favorite places. Also, look online at some popular restaurants. These are less known and where the locals go. Have Fun!

    2. What a fabulous list. If I end up going there in future, I'm going to blame you ;-)

      1. AmericanFlavor there have been several folks that have visited PA over the years, but not reported back. Hopefully your post will not only orient subsequent visitors, but encourage them to report back. As soon as I can swing it financially I plan a trip to the Serra Gaucha, which won't be for a while, but will certainly report back. BTW, have you ever checked out the Lagom Brewpub (one of very few in the country: there is a lot of growth in artesenal brewing, but a fair amount of red tape and nothing legally which specifically allows or covers brewpubs so they are particularly hard to open)?

        Here are some of the past threads so that others can reference them too.

        BTW, while there are very different standards in food preparation and storage, I haven't had more issues with food poisoning in Brazil than the US and I eat some less 'safe' things (air cured sausages, carne de sol, manteiga de garrafa which sits on a shelf, vegetable preserves). In a lot of cases the food is fresher and less industrially produced, sanitation is more rudimentary but is practiced (for instances plates are washed with ambient temp well water, but many restaurants later wipe them with alcohol). 'Safety' is an important consideration, but personally I wouldn't make it the primary one in selecting where to eat.

        1 Reply
        1. re: itaunas

          Once you almost die of food poising, you might change your opinion! But yes, in general, Brazilians are very clean. I put "safe" more for the point of view of safe to enjoy, not that everywhere is so dirty. Places that I consider that you will definitely be safe to order anything on the menu and enjoy it. There are some places in the Serra Gaucha tambem that I would recommend, but another topic. Let me know when you are going. bjs!