Dinner near airport in Sao Paulo
We will have a 5 hour layover at the Airport in Sao Paulo Brazil and wondered if we could get a recommendation close to the airport for an early dinner. Most interested in typical food if possible. Also, is there any good food choices in the airport.. Thanks
hankster are you connecting through there from an International destination (in which case you might not go through passport control as you need a Brazilian visa to do so) or from elsewhere in Brazil?? Also if coming from elsewhere in Brazil you should double-check that both your tickets go through Guarulhos (GRU aka Cumbica) which is the International airport, as opposed to Congonhas the domestic airport. There are still airlines/agents who will book conections through CGH to GRU, although its no longer necessary to do that because Gol and others provide plenty of service to GRU. (Azul is a different story as they fly in to Viracopos/Campinas and use buses for connections.)
If you take a taxi you might look into the International Shopping Guarulhos which was styled after the mall near the airport in MSP. I have no idea what is good for food, but its close, safe, and should have more options for less money than the airport. Make sure you get an official taxi, but I would avoid a radio taxi (fixed rate) which will charge you more.
With 5 hours its feasible to take the Airport Bus to Eldorado shopping center which will give you a good number of dining options but you need to be really careful of the time as I once got stuck almost two hours in traffic from Eldorado to Cumbica (45 minutes on a good day). Depending on the airline, too, check-in can take a long while and while Brazilian connections will often check your bags through, you still need to check in because of security procedures (one nice thing in SP is there is a special international x-ray line for foreigners which goes a bit faster). I have done Eldorado a bunch of times to feed a book shopping habit and meet friends, but I would probably suggest closer options.
In the airport the best options at GRU are outside security. Right at the end of Asa A in Terminal 1 you will find the most options (after GOL, I believe before American & TAM). Viena is a decent buffet option where you can pay by the kg. Frontier Beer offers sushi, draft beer, and a few options (I haven't been here in a number of years and its typical airport pricey). There is also food court food (pizza hut) and some cafe style eating. I tend to have lunch before getting to SP when connecting through GRU, so I prefer to buy snacks, water, pastries downstairs near the arrivals doors (convenience stores and a larger cafe). The bad thing with that approach is there is very minimal seating in the airport and its super-crowded so its not a pleasant way to pass 5 hours. Downstairs is a bit quieter, but most of the seating is tied up with the cafe.
There are a lot of aiport clubs, including a Diners Club for members, which would allow you to wait in more comfort and away from the bustle.
If you are stuck in the international departures/connections lounge its much better than Rio but that isn't saying much. Eisenbahn brewery has an overpriced bar and restaurant, but their beers are step up from most Brazilian offerings. The sausage is pretty good and they have an autofryer, I would avoid the other plates though and portions are small. There is another bar that offers a selection of wines near Eisenbahn, but seemed to have minimal food. There is a cafe with some snacks in the middle of the terminal and Nova Schin another beer company has a "Devassa" bar at the other end but I haven't been -- I think this offered beers, food,and wines. As far as I am aware there are no VIP lounges once you go through international security -- there isn't much there to pass 5 hours so if you aren't forced to stay there, don't enter international departures until closer to your flight.
If you have to connect from CGH to GRU there is also an airport bus and you need to factor around 2 hours for that trip (some airlines also have bus connections between the two). I have checked my bags at the "guarda volumes" in CGH, taken a cab to the mall Shopping Ibirapuera (15 minutes) and then caught the bus from Congonhas to Cumbica. The (nicer) malls in Brazil are better laid out for eating than US ones and many have good restaurants.
hankster if you are originating on Gol or TAM in Floripa and connecting in Guarulhos on the same reservation, you should be in good shape because they will check your bags through to American. You still have to check in personally to go through a security screening, but the elite lines should be pretty quick. I think the AC is actually inside security (hazy memory), despite what I said before but you might have access to another one world club outside security. In any case just make sure they don't have you connecting through Congonhas (CGH) and you should have plenty of time to hit the Shopping Guarulhos (there are a lot of other restaurants in Guarulhos but I don't know any personally or know of any guides). I figured out how to list their restaurants and it looks like a normal mix of chains (including local chains) and independent outlets.