Açaí is the latest health food trend taking the world by storm. The tasty açaí berry, native to Central and South America, is proven to be high in antioxidants and nutrients, though limited research has yet to confirm the actual health benefits of the berry.
In Brazil, açaí bowls have been a long-time favorite for locals and tourists alike. The berries are blended into a smoothie and served with toppings. Brazil has slightly different açaí condiments from other parts of the world: not just banana, strawberry, and grapes, but also powdered milk, condensed milk, and granola! In São Paulo, the most traditional and gourmet açaí spot is Frutaria SP. While this venue may be the most famous, each neighborhood has its own local favorite açaí spots. While out and about, you can get açaí at food stands in Parque Ibirapuera, where they also sell coconut water straight from the coconut!
When LocalAventura summer fellow, Amy, arrived in Brazil’s largest city, she was excited to taste authentic açaí bowls. Just weeks into her São Paulo residency, Amy was on a quest for the best açaí in the city, sampling bowls from the famous Frutaria restaurant to small gas station shops. Read about her discoveries here and find out how you, too, can taste the best açaí of São Paulo.
Rua Tamandaré, 602- Liberdade, São Paulo- SP
The walk from our apartment to Açaí Formosa was along some streets (ruas) we hadn’t ventured down before, but we finally found the hole-in-the-wall spot we’d been searching for! The venue was casual and the server was really friendly. We watched dubbed Indiana Jones while we ate. The açaí was fresh, tasty, and cheap. Lesson learned: hole-in-the-wall açaí shops have good açaí!
Açaí Power Bar e Grill
Rua José Getúlio, 355 – Aclimação, São Paulo
Açaí Power Bar e Grill is in a nicer and more popular area than Açaí Formosa, but the açaí was twice as expensive. The good news is that it’s open till midnight, so a good spot for a late night açaí! On our first trip to Açaí Power Bar e Grill I tried a fresh bowl with strawberry toppings. It may be just a personal preference, but I don’t think strawberry goes as well with the açaí as banana. But you may have a different experience!
On our second round of Açaí Power Bar e Grill we went back for late night açaí, which was the perfect boost for a great night out. This trip taught us that açaí is often considered a pre-party necessity by Brazilians. This time I tried pineapple and granola. Pineapple made the açaí taste sour and kind of tart, so if you like that flavor, give it a try! Otherwise, condensed milk is good – just don’t put too much or it’ll too sweet!
Av. Hélio Pellegrino, 100 – Jardim Nova Conceição, São Paulo
Frutaria Sao Paulo, near Parque Ibirapuera, is the most famous place to get açaí in São Paulo. Unfortunately, I chose to wait for the rest of my meal before eating my açaí, so it had kind of melted when I finally ate it. However, it was obvious the açaí was blended well, as it was very smooth and easy to eat. I think the banana is better mixed in to the açaí as opposed to on the side though, because the flavors complement each other better when combined. As the most famous place to get açaí, Frutaria was definitely worth the trip!
In Shopping Patio Paulista: R. Treze de Maio, 1947 – Bela Vista, São Paulo
This açaí spot was in the big shopping center, Patio Paulista, and was the second largest establishment after Frutaria. The açaí was decent, but at this point I had definitely tried better. The açaí was icy and I got a brain freeze almost every bite. I think they had some trouble with the blender that day, which is why it was so icy. Açaí is a small berry-like fruit that’s hard like a coconut; a special industrial blender is needed to grind it well. When the açaí is icy, it wasn’t blended well. Perhaps if they fix their blender, their açaí would be better?
Posto de Açaí
Rua Vergueiro, 1694 – Paraíso, São Paulo – SP
This place serves up huge açaí bowls for about the same prices as other spots. We came on a Sunday after biking Avenida Paulista, which is only open to bikers and pedestrians on Sundays. This açaí place was a great treat after long hours of biking! In fact this venue is actually a gas station serving huge açaí bowls. While the açaí was average, we definitely got what we paid for…and then some!
Cheers to healthy foods that are tasty treats, too! On your next trip to São Paulo, be sure to try out açaí bowls for breakfast, afternoon snack, or dessert. Amy recommends açaí and mango (her new favorite), but don’t be afraid creative and see what else Brazil has to offer! Do you have a favorite açaí in Brazil? Let us know in the comments below!
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