Culture
Image via Biyou'z Instagram.

8 African Restaurants You Need to Visit in São Paulo

Here are some of the best restaurants in Brazil's most "African city."

São Paulo is the African capital of Brazil. This title used to be reserved for Salvador, Bahia Brazil's blackest and most culturally African city. But in 2008, thousands of Africans began to move to São Paulo in search of economic prosperity. Europe was in the middle of an economic recession and Brazil's open doors and booming economy proved to be too much of a temptation. Those immigrants brought with them their families, language and of course food.

Most of São Paulo's new African immigrants are from Nigeria, Senegal, and Congo. Their presence is most visible in the neighborhood of República in the center of São Paulo. In the late 00's and early 2010's West African casual restaurants began to pop up in this neighborhood. Their prices reflected their clientele: immigrants looking for a cheap home-cooked meal. As Brazilians began to discover this authentic African food, some of these restaurants became media darlings and their prices increased along with their popularity. But Africans (and non-Africans on a budget) aren't complaining. There is always a new restaurant offering cheap, tasty and filling African dishes. Thieb (a tomato-based stew served over rice), mafé (peanut stew served over rice) and n'dolé (nuts, Ironweeds, and meat) are the most popular dishes.

With its strong flavors and spiciness, West African food is not a big leap from Bahian food in the northeast of Brazil. And these days it's easier to find authentic West African in São Paulo than it is authentic Bahian food. So it is no surprise that African restaurants in São Paulo are becoming a destination for both black and white Brazilians. Most of the restaurants below call themselves African restaurants, but their best dishes always come from the homeland of the chef, whether it be Senegal, Cameroon or Nigeria.

BIYOU´Z

Alameda Barão de Limeira, 19

Since opening in 2011, Biyou'Z has captured the tongues of Brazilians. The restaurant is helmed by a Cameroonian chef Melanito Biyouha and it offers every popular West African dish—Ndolé (its specialty), Thieb, Mafé, Yassa. When it opened in 2008, it originally served the local African community and served just four dishes. But after Cameroonian soccer fans discovered it during the 2014 World Cup, it gained wider popularity. Since then, Biyouha and her restaurant have been featured in every major Brazilian and international newspaper. The publicity has been a boom for all African restaurants in São Paulo. Although though the prices are far from being popular, the decor and food make up for it and it's sure to impress a man or woman on a date.


Congolinária

Av. Prof. Alfonso Bovero, 382

Does African vegan food exist? It does in São Paulo. Pitchou Luambo, a native of the Democratic Republic of Congo, settled in the city in 2010 when he fled the conflict in his home country. He started a new life in São Paulo as an actor, cultural producer, and French language teacher. After years of cooking his favorite Congolese dishes for his friends, he finally decided to open a small food stand serving vegan Congolese specialties. The most popular dishes are Ngombe, a gnocchi made of plantains and served with a Shimeji sauce, fufu, and Simba, a Congolese rice pilaf. Since opening in 2016 Congolinária has moved to a new physical space in Vila Madalena, one of São Paulo's trendiest neighborhoods.

Mama África La Bonne Bouffe

Rua Cantagalo 230

Mama África hasn't received as much traditional media attention as Biyou'Z, but it's a hit on social media and among local Brazilians. This is one of the few African restaurants that is not the center of São Paulo, and that has allowed the restaurant to develop a neighborhood clientele. Owner Chef Sam is Cameroonian and maintains very active Youtube and Instagram channels. Obviously the best dishes are the Cameroonian best dishes - Ndolé, Mafé, fufu and fried plantains. Some of Brazil's most famous black people have eaten at the restaurant—Nego do Borel, Preta Rara, Gabby Amarantos. And Chef Sam always posts their photos. He also makes everyone feel so at home that reviewers always vow to return. This is the only African restaurant that has iFood delivery.

Muena's Café

R. Rego Freitas, 570, região central, s/tel.

Angolan Kalengue Muena specializes in coffee from Africa that he brews and sells from a cart in the center of Rio de Janeiro. He prepares specialty coffee beans from his country, in a hot or cold version. The drink made with Mucua, the fruit of the baobab, which can be served as liquor or without alcohol.

Le Petit Village - Bar e Restaurante

Av Vieira de Carvalho, 184

Although Le Petit Village is just around the corner from Biyou´Z, its clientele is much different. Le Petit Village still attracts local Africans. With blue lights and dark lighting, the restaurant feels more like an African club than an African cultural experience, and that's a good thing. The restaurant and bar often host African entertainment at night.

La Lingueré

Av. Sao Joao, 563 Centro, Sao Paulo

La Lingueré is a Senegalese restaurant that specializes only in Senegalese food (Yes!). So there is every type of Thieb on the menu. Every plate on the menu is just 10 Reais ($2.70) and the servings are huge. That's a good enough reason to frequent this new African restaurant in the center of São Paulo.

Restaurante do Pastor

Barão de Limeira, 19, Centro

Restaurante do Pastor is run by a Nigerian man named Pastor. It's so new that there are no reviews, nor any mention of it on the Internet. But it exists as evidenced by the video below! Bitterleaf soup, Fufu and Red Sauce stew are on the menu. And for 15 reais ($4) a plate you can go home with leftovers. They even offer a free bottle of water for your meal.

Bonjour Brasil

Rua Lavapés, 202

This article is focused on African food, but there's some room for our brothers and sisters in the African Diaspora. Haitians moved to Brazil in mass after the 2010 earthquake. Bonjour Brasil is the only Haitian food restaurant in São Paulo. It was opened in 2016 by 36-year-old Jean René Veillard and it offers a daily all-you-can-eat buffet with Haitian food. One of the restaurant's specialties is dried meat with plantains, rice and salad. The restaurant is open for lunch and closes at 6pm.

popular
Photo by Lana Haroun

From #FeesMustFall to #BlueforSudan: OkayAfrica's Guide to a Decade of African Hashtag Activism

The 2010s saw protest movements across the continent embrace social media in their quest to make change.

The Internet and its persistent, attention-seeking child, Social Media has changed the way we live, think and interact on a daily basis. But as this decade comes to a close, we want to highlight the ways in which people have merged digital technology, social media and ingenuity to fight for change using one of the world's newest and most potent devices—the hashtag.

What used to simply be the "pound sign," the beginning of a tic-tac-toe game or what you'd have to enter when interacting with an automated telephone service, the hashtag has become a vital aspect of the digital sphere operating with both form and function. What began in 2007 as a metadata tag used to categorize and group content on social media, the term 'hashtag' has now grown to refer to memes (#GeraraHere), movements (#AmINext), events (#InsertFriendsWeddingHere) and is often used in everyday conversation ("That situation was hashtag awkward").

The power of the hashtag in the mobility of people and ideas truly came to light during the #ArabSpring, which began one year into the new decade. As Tunisia kicked off a revolution against oppressive regimes that spread throughout North Africa and the Middle East, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook played a crucial role in the development and progress of the movements. The hashtag, however, helped for activists, journalists and supporters of causes. It not only helped to source information quickly, but it also acted as a way to create a motto, a war cry, that could spread farther and faster than protestors own voices and faster than a broadcasted news cycle. As The Guardian wrote in 2016, "At times during 2011, the term Arab Spring became interchangeable with 'Twitter uprising' or 'Facebook revolution,' as global media tried to make sense of what was going on."

From there, the hashtag grew to be omnipresent in modern society. It has given us global news, as well as strong comedic relief and continues to play a crucial role in our lives. As the decade comes to a close, here are some of the most impactful hashtags from Africans and for Africans that used the medium well.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Screenshot from the upcoming film Warriors of a Beautiful Game

In Conversation: Pelé's Daughter is Making a Documentary About Women's Soccer Around the World

In this exclusive interview, Kely Nascimento-DeLuca shares the story behind filming Warriors of a Beautiful Game in Tanzania, Brazil and other countries.

It may surprise you to know that women's soccer was illegal in Brazil until 1981. And in the UK until 1971. And in Germany until 1970. You may have read that Sudan made its first-ever women's league earlier this year. Whatever the case, women and soccer have always had a rocky relationship.

It wasn't what women wanted. It certainly wasn't what they needed. However, society had its own ideas and placed obstacle after obstacle in front of women to keep ladies from playing the game. Just this year the US national team has shown the world that women can be international champions in the sport and not get paid fairly compared to their male counterparts who lose.

Kely Nascimento-DeLuca is looking to change that. As the daughter of international soccer legend Pelé, she is no stranger to the game. Growing up surrounded by the sport, she was actually unaware of the experiences women around the world were having with it. It was only recently that she discovered the hardships around women in soccer and how much it mirrored women's rights more generally.

Keep reading... Show less
popular

14 Cultural Events You Can't Miss this December in South Africa

OkayAfrica's guide to must-see events during South Africa's festive season.

South Africans will tell you that December is not just a month, it's an entire lifestyle. From beginning to end, it's about being immersed in a ton of activity with friends and family as well as any new folk you meet along the way. Whether you're looking to turn up to some good music or watch some provocative theater, our guide to just 14 cultural events happening in South Africa this December, has something for everyone.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Convener of "#Revolution Now" Omoyele Sowore speaks during his arraignment for charges against the government at the Federal High Court in Abuja, on September 30, 2019. (Photo by KOLA SULAIMON/AFP via Getty Images)

Nigerian Activist, Omoyele Sowore, Re-Arrested Just Hours After Being Released on Bail

Sowore, the organizer of Nigeria's #RevolutionNow protests, was detained by armed officers, once again, in court on Friday.

Omoyele Sowore, the Nigerian human rights activist and former presidential candidate who has spent over four months in jail under dubious charges, was re-arrested today in Lagos while appearing in court.

The journalist and founder of New York-based publication Sahara Reporters, had been released on bail the day before. He was arrested following his organization of nationwide #RevolutionNow protests in August. Since then, Sowore has remained in custody on what are said to be trumped-up charges, including treason, money laundering and stalking the president.

He appeared in court once again on Friday after being released on bail in federal court the previous day. During his appearance, Sowore was again taken into custody by Nigerian authorities.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.