This week, I tried a São Paulo standard in the gourmet burger scene. I was harassed for weeks to go this burger joint that is located in the posh neighborhood known as Itaim Bibi.
We went for lunch to try one of the most popular places in São Paulo. My expectations were really high. Known as one of the first gourmet burger restaurants, Butcher’s models itself as NY Burger joint. Since it was lunchtime, we had the option to add fries or a salad for an extra R$ 5. I went for the salad option and ordered a separate side of fries to split.
Cajun Fries – PASS!! Tasted like the fries were covered in flour and then fried. There was no cajun flavor at all. We had to drown them in ketchup to halfway enjoy them.
Market Orignal – A beautiful looking sandwich with good ingredients, but the medium burger was more like……raw. There was no flavor in the meat at all.
None – just had a bottle of water for lunch.
The service was ok. Nothing to write home about. I was annoyed that they tried to bring two fistfuls of 5 centavos coins as part of my change.
Felt more like I was paying for the location, and decorations. Butcher’s is a more expensive place and it just wasn’t the worth the price for the quality of the burger. I left feeling very unsatisfied. Maybe the food is better at night and with a couple of beers but in future I’m going to have to Pass on Butcher’s Market.
Save your money and go check out Meat’s or Vapor
Rua Bandeira Paulista, 164
Itaim Bibi, São Paulo
The quest has now begun to find the best Burger in Sao Paulo. To start, I will go to the neighborhood of Vila Madalena, in the western section of the city, known for its’ bounty of bars and restaurants. There I found a little place that instantly caught my attention.
Vapor Burger & Beer
Located at Rua(street) Fradique Coutinho, 1464, this burger joint is rather impressive. Upon sitting down and browsing the menu, the first thing that I noticed was that fries were no where to be found on menu. Strange I thought, and instantly I had bad feeling about this place. How can you call yourself a burger joint but not have fries. This is blasphemy to the burger gods and in my mind I thought this was going to be a bad experience. As I continued reading through the menu, I went down a mental checklist:
Burgers – check
Domestic Beer – check
Imported American Beer – check
Ok, so still why no fries?? Hmmmm, I finished the menu and looked up. Bingo! Right in my face. Written on the wall, a clear explanation:
“Foi por volta de 1920, no estado americano de CONNECTICUT, que surgiram os primeiros hamburgers no VAPOR. A técnica regional elimina porte de gordura da carne, preservando o sabor e a suculência e dá ao queijo uma textura cremosa.
Fomos além e estendemos o uso do vapor para todo o cardápio desde a entrada até a sobremesa: NÃO GRELHAMOS, NÃO FRITAMOS E NÃO USAMOS CHAPA.
Achou estranho? É pra achar mesmo. Voce não vai comer NADA IGUAL em nenhum outro lugar.”
“It was around 1920, in the American state of CONNECTICUT, which appeared the first STEAMED hamburgers. The regional technique eliminates fat from meat, preserving the flavor and juiciness and gives the cheese a creamy texture.
We went further and extended the use of steam for the whole menu from the appetizer to the dessert: NO GRILLING, NO FRYING AND NO FLATTOPS.
Sound strange? It’s for you to find out. You will not eat ANYTHING like this anywhere else.”
At Vapor, there is no grill, no fryer or flattop grill. Everything is prepared by steam. Ahhhhh! So no fryer = no fries. That also explains the name. Vapor in portuguese means steam. It reminds me of White Castle in the US. All steamed burgers but more upscale.
Relief. It is an alternative burger joint. I like the sound of that. So lets order:
Steamed potatoes covered in gorgonzola cheese – A change from fries, but delicious none the less. The cheese puts it at another level. Definitely worth ordering again
Beer Burger – The burger was simple but had the right balance of juiciness and favor. None of the toppings overpowered the meat. Since it is steamed the meat tends to fall apart but it’s a burger so, get messy!
Hashtag# Burger – Just the like the Beer Burger, the Hashtag# Burger is juicy and flavorful. The 4 strips of bacon crisp and added texture to the meaty burger. More of a classic combo and the signature burger of the restaurant.
Bucólico (a scoop of “Cream” ice cream in steamed strawberries) – sweet and smooth. Warm strawberry juice/syrup was new for me. Not my favorite but it was still good.
Brooklyn Brewery East India Pale Ale – American Craft Beer…….Need I say more??!
Our waiter was impeccable. A young tattooed guy who was extremely attentive. He answered every question knowledgeably, promptly removed plates when we were finished, and always with a “licença” (excuse me) or “desculpe” (excuse me/sorry). He was even sightly embarrassed when we asked for clean spoon because the one we received was dirty. Hands down, the best waiter I have had in São Paulo.
One of the best burger experiences that I have had in São Paulo. The ingredients are high quality, the service is fantastic, and the cooking technique is unique in terms of the São Paulo Burger culture. I didn’t see any negatives. Maybe if you don’t like steam burgers then this might not be the place for you, but I say give it a shot. At least it is a healthier option in the Burger World. If you like steamed burgers then this is definitely a must to visit if you are a burger fan. Think of it as the cool “alternative” burger.
Hashtag# Burger, any choice of beer, and potatoes. As for dessert, maybe I would try something different just to see how it turns out from being steam but I prefer a more traditional dessert.
Vapor Burger & Beer
Rua Fraduque Coutinho, 1464
Vila Madalena, Sao Paulo
11 3811 9718
August 23rd marked one full year in Brazil. Since that time, I have survived unexpected housing changes, credit card theft/fraud, experienced New Year’s in Rio, and the huge global event known as The World Cup. Upon arrival, I had some expectations about how life would be here. Some of those expectations were met, others changed my viewed on Brazil, mainly about São Paulo in particular. So to review the past year, I have a list of things I have learned while being here and a list of what I want to accomplish/experience in the next 12 months
What I have learned:
- Brazilians know more English than they think….
Now that I have been an English teacher since October, I interact more with those who are learning English. Most have at least a basic level and those who don’t study know at least a few words. Comparing with Americans, the knowledge of a foriegn langauge is much better here.
- Its very hard to escape the English language in Rio and São Paulo….
Take a look at any menu and there is probably an English translation, but even more strange are the company logos and some phrases like “home office” that remind me of English everyday.
- I will never be able to live without fresh juice…..
No more kool-aid, no Hi-C, no favored water packets. I’m taking about fresh oranges, pineapples, passion fruit, strawberries, mangoes, and much much more. Nothing frozen and you can find any boteco (corner bar) with fruit on display and ready to be juice into almost any combo that you want. Not only botecos though, fresh juice is available at every bar, restaurant, or bakery. Cheers!
- American taxes aren’t that bad…..
29% food tax…….enough said
- Brazil isn’t the racial paradise that it thinks it is…..
Stopped by the police while leaving the metro for no reason then stood and watched as the police only stopped those that looked like me. TV looks like more like Europe than a country that has the largest population of black people outside of Africa, the largest Japanese population outside Japan and a mixed heritage of Portuguese and indigenous people. The social and economic lines are very clear. For example at most restaurants, bars, and clubs, I will be the only brown person in the building not including the staff. Coincidence? I think don’t so.
- Brazilians love lines….
Lines at the market…..lines at the club….lines for the museum…….if you see a line just go stand in it. Do you need to know what it is for? No not really. Just stand and wait for the sake of the standing and waiting.
- Paulistas hate eating with the hands…..unless its barbecue…..
Pizza…fork and knife……fries…using toothpicks…….chicken wings….wrapped in a napkin…. and the ultimate sin…..burgers with a fork and knife
With all of these classic finger foods you will see Paulistas avoiding to touch any part. But wait!? Go to any barbecue and it is a free -for-all of fingers grabbing bloody meat, dripping in it farofa, and shoveling it all in their mouths.
No napkins please!
- Paulistas make a damn good burger…..but where are the fries……..
As an American, I’m kinda of an authority on burgers by default, and I must say there are many good burger joints around this city. Only one thing erks me though. It is very rare to find a place that will serve the burger and fries together. 200% mark up on potatoes and an extra plate……they will get you every time.
- I eat healthier here than I did in the US…..
The variety of fruits and veggies is massive. Fast food is minimal and portion size is much smaller in comparison. Beef here is grass-fed instead of corn-fed and once again portion is smaller. No super size anything here.
- The World Cup wasn’t the disaster that people thought it would be…..
- The US could learn some things from Brazil and vice versa………
Relax and enjoy the moment more often like Brazilians. You will feel much better. Drink a beer on the street. Drink a beer on the beach. Have a street party. You don’t have to get drunk. It’s all about sharing an ice cold 600ml bottle with your friends and chatting all day/night.
- Portuguese is a beautiful language…..
Portuguese is a language full of emotion. You speak with your hands. It flows with a melody and sometimes you can’t tell if someone is excited, angry, or happy. Confusing to watch…maybe a little but once you catch on you will definite feel more apart of the culture.
- You can survive without knowing the language but……
In the larger cities of SP and Rio, there are plenty of English speakers and many locals have a basic level but once you leave these cities you will need some kind of portuguese to get around or be very good at sign langugage.
- Brazilians take barbecue to a different level…
No hotdogs or hamburgers here! It’s all about the popular cuts of beef and sausage. Picanha, Alcatra, Linguica, Lombo, Ribs, Chicken hearts. Rarely will you find veggies. Maybe some garlic bread (grilled of course) and farofa to dip your meat in. Basically a meat fest for meat lovers. Vegetarians and Vegans stay home!
What I want to do in the next 12 months:
- Write more….
- Determine which is the best burger place in São Paulo….
- Determine which is the best place for Caipirinhas in São Paulo……
- Speak more Portuguese……
- Attend more Black/Afro-Brazilian events…..
- Visit other cities in Brazil (Belo Horizonte, Natal, Salvador, etc)
- Go to the beach more often…..
- Take more and better photographs….
- Expand my network of friends (more Brazilians than expats)…..
So this morning I was supposed to have an 8am class near Paulista Av close to Metro Consolacão. Since there is strike and the metro was only partially working, I had 2 options. #1 take the bus or #2 walk to the next station (Ana Rosa) since the 2 near (Vila Mariana – blue line & Chacara Klabin – green line) me were closed. With the increased traffic it would take about an 1 hour on bus. it is normally 25-30 minutes. Plus the lines to actually get on a bus are going to be extremely long. I possibly would have to wait for 2 or 3 buses to come by. If I walk to Ana Rosa, it would take 10 minutes to walk and another 5-10 to take the metro to my stop. So I decided to walk. I woke up an hour early just to make sure I had enough time.
As I’m walking along Rua(street) Vergueiro, I realize that I’m not the only one with that idea to walk. The street is unusually crowded. As I get closer to the metro, I hear a loud bang, and then maybe 2 minutes later a 2nd loud bang (tear gas??). I can see in the distance banners and flags . There is a protest in the street, and not far behind there are police in riot gear. I cross the street to avoid the protestors and more importantly the riot police. I am at the bus terminal of Metro Ana Rosa and now the police have closed off the entrance to the metro. Apparently, protestors started inside the metro, burned some trash in the street, and were now going up and down Vergueiro. Now, Im pretty much stuck, no metro and since the protestors are in the middle of street, taking a bus is not an option either. Not surprisingly, I look at my phone and I have a text message from the school. My student cancelled. Guess he had the same problem as me.
Happy 3 days until the #worldcup2014 #Brazil #SaoPaulo #GreveMetroviarios
So we are at about a month away from the start of the World Cup in Brazil. Even though all the stadiums and airports aren’t complete, and there aren’t enough hotels/hostels in the host cites, there is still an electric feeling in the air. Some feel excited, others feel worried. Both are legimate emotions to have right. For those that are excited, this could be the best World Cup to ever happen. The world’s most popular sporting event in the country that is known as the King of Football. Home of Pele, Socrates, Romario, Ronaldo (the original), Rivaldo, Thaigo Silva, and Neymar. Home of the 5 time World Champions. This is Brazil. Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Salvador, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, Brasilia. The Amazon, Igazu, Samba, Carnaval, Feijoada, Caipirinhas, and Beaches, Beaches, Beaches. This is the place to be for what will be the World’s biggest month-long party. On the other hand, billions have been spent on stadiums aren’t complete, Airports that are still under renovation, and proposed metro lines at that haven’t been started. These billions could have been spent on hospitals, schools, and roads. Things which Brazil really needs, and the result will be protests. Protests at the stadiums, protests in the streets. Will Brazil be embarrassed or will Brazil bring it all together at the last moment? For me, I like to call this World Cup, The Beautiful Mess. Why? Simple really. This WILL BE the best World Cup ever. Point. Blank. Period. and also this World Cup will be full of headaches. The lines are the airports will be long and slow, food will be expensive, transportation will crowded, and Gringoes will have a hard time with the language because not many people will speak English. Yet with all these logistic problems, the hospitality and friendliness of the Brazilian people combined to with their desire to create a good impression will make this cup better than any other. I am certain of it.
One of things I want to do while I’m here in Brazil is be apart of the Cup. Attending a World Cup has been a dream of mine since I was a kid and I’m finally at the doorstep of completing it. I picked up my ticket to Match 38 in Fortaleza, Ceara, Brazil. Greece vs Ivory Coast. I’m beyond excited! Along with Andy and Juan, we picked up the tickets and it is all caught on film. Enjoy!
So I just found out that at my former place of employment in the US, that 30 people in MY department were laid off from their jobs. Restructuring the department with new equipment and less employees. Very interesting considering that money was invested for instruments that they have had for less than 3 years. Also the response of HR is particularly distrubing. Usually at this company, when a department is downsized, employees are offered positions in other departments. This time, HR only said “you can apply online, but that doesn’t guarantee any”. So basically from my understanding…….good luck but we probably aren’t going to hire you. I quit this job about 2 1/2 months before all this happened. People questioned my decision and thought I was a bit crazy for leaving a “secure” job but guess what…………….
Today I have an interview with an American Expat, Juan aka 10kjuan. He is the creator of the expat blog 10kjuan.com, world traveler, and is currently living in São Paulo, SP, Brazil. He discusses his journey to becoming an expat and what life is like in São Paulo. Enjoy!
How old are you?
How do you know me?
Mikey, we met through the power of social networks and the internet. We stumbled across each other’s blogs and hit it off based on our shared love of Brazil and sports.
Where are you from?
Born in Queens, NY, but my parents are from Spain and Ecuador.
Where are you living now?
São Paulo, Brazil
When did you first visit?
I cleared customs on April 17th 2011 and have been abusing them ever since.
How long did you stay?
I technically haven’t “left”, though I have made several passport ninja runs since.
How long have you been living in São Paulo?
I’ve been here for 21 months now, shattering my previous record of “months spent living overseas” by 21 months.
How did you get tri-citizenship?
I was born into it. Spain and Ecuador both allow you to “recover” the citizenship which is rightfully yours through your parents, and the U.S. allows dual citizenship. Just don’t tell any of them I have a third. Thanks.
Do you speak portuguese or any other languages?
I’m a native speaker of English and Spanish and have been confused for Brazilian several times within the first 5 seconds of the conversation. I like to think I’m fluent in Portuguese, but drinking with a group of Mineiros always makes me question that.
How did you learn Portuguese? and Spanish?
I basically learned Portuguese by having it around me at all times. No books. Just listening, reading and repetition, with the occasional correction from a Brazilian princess. Of course, I was only able to do that because Spanish is my first language, so I wouldn’t recommend it.
What made you interested in Brazil?
Living in Miami from 1992-2009, I got a taste of Brazilian culture through friends, sports, food and festivals. As a result, I had an idea of what life would be like here, and it sounded like my kind of place. I also liked the challenge of learning Portuguese, given that I’d never really had to learn a language. Everything is happening here now too – the World Cup in 2014, the Olympics in 2016, UFC events, Lollapalooza, Rock in Rio… Even Miss Universe came here in 2011. It’s the place to be, which in my mind meant there’d be plenty of opportunity to teach and write, which were my two goals coming in. Lastly, as a traveler, I’ve always wanted to explore South America, and I knew São Paulo would be a good hub to do just that. Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Santiago, Lima, Bogota – I’ve visited them all since arriving here.
How did you prepare for your trip?
Poorly. But that was part of the adventure. I booked a one-way flight using frequent flyer miles – with a 2-month layover in Ecuador – packed my passports, a fabricated proof of yellow fever vaccination form, my iToys and a backpack. I figured I’d sort out the rest when I arrived.
What was the reaction you received when you told people that you were going to Brazil?
Yeah. I didn’t really tell that many people. I’m not a big fan of interventions, so thought I’d do my best to avoid one. Thinking back though, most people I did tell were fairly supportive given the fact that I didn’t really have a plan.
What was your first impression when you landed in Rio or Sao Paulo?
São Paulo was a lot faster than I imagined any city in Brazil being. The image you have of Brazil is easy-going, stress-free and chilled out. São Paulo operates at a breakneck pace, not quite as mad as New York, but right up there with every other metropolis I’ve experienced.
Did you notice any big cultural differences or anything that seemed funny to you?
The biggest one early on was definitely Brazilians’ tendency to be non-committal, avoiding yes or no answers at all costs. You can ask a hungry Brazilian if he wants something to eat, perhaps at your house after you’ve had lunch and with plenty of leftovers, but they won’t say yes unless you ask them 2 or 3 times. Sometimes you really have to insist. On the other hand, if you try and make plans with them and they can’t go, or don’t want to go, they won’t say no. They’ll say ‘pode ser’, which is sort of like ‘it’s possible’. They could have a big-time commitment that they already know about that conflicts with the plans, but they still won’t say no. They think it’s rude.
Where else have you gone in Brazil?
I’ve gotten away to Rio a few times, most notably for UFC Rio II and Carnaval 2011. I also went to Belo Horizonte, Serra do Cipo (close to BH), I did the Petropolis-Teresopolis mountain trek, went to Salvador, Morro de São Paulo, Foz do Iguaçu, Maresias and some other smaller towns on the coast and the countryside. Plenty left to see though. It’s basically its own continent.
What is your favorite thing about Brazil?
I’d have to say my favorite thing about Brazil is Brazilians. Every stereotype has its exception, but Brazilians really are cheerful and festive most of the time, and Paulistanos are pretty hospitable with foreigners.
Favorite places in Brazil?
Are we talking cities? If so, I have to include the disclaimer that I haven’t been to too many places just yet, but despite trips to Iguaçu, Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Morro de São Paulo and several other beaches, I have to stick to the big two of São Paulo and Rio.
How would you compare to Brazil to other countries?
Well other than the hundreds (thousands?) of beautiful beaches, it’s a country that despite it’s young age, has a lot of culture. The people are friendly, festive and they work to live, not the opposite like many other countries.
What did you do in NY and what are doing in Colombia?
Well I left NY when I was 13, so not much other than play baseball and spin the bottle. I spent the next 15 years in South Florida where I worked in the investment management industry and, later, the mortgage industry. I was in Colombia for a long layover on my way to Miami to visit my family.
What were some of the reasons why you decided to leave the “Good ole” USA to live in a 3rd world country?
Ever since I started traveling heavily in 2004, I’ve been curious about what it would be like to actually live overseas as a form of extended/indefinite travel. My favorite trips were always the ones where I was able to immerse myself and get to live like a local. Wouldn’t living in a different country be the best of both worlds? So I chose Brazil based on many things. I knew there’d be opportunities to teach, I knew the economy was doing well (this was in early 2011), I liked the idea of learning Portuguese, and I liked that there was a lot happening here (as mentioned before, UFC, Lollapalooza, World Cup, etc.). So I bought my one-way flight and haven’t looked back since.
What inspired your blog?
My blog, which is still very much a work in progress, was based on a reality TV show experience I had in 2005, where I appeared on Caesars 24/7, a short-lived Vegas show in Caesars Palace. I gambled $10,000 of my own money on blackjack and the producer coined the nickname 10kJuan. That was shortly after I left the corporate world and right before I embarked on my world travel, so to me it was a turning point in my life where I started taking more chances and living on my own terms. I started the blog to try and motivate others to do the same.
What is your opinion on Brazil’s economic boom?
I think the boom is over now that Brazilians bought their cars and houses and went on their big trips. The Brazilian real is down against the dollar, and debt is getting a little high, thanks in part to everyone being able to pay for things in 6 to 12 installments (not interest free, by the way). Having said that, there’s still a shortage of qualified labor in the country, which is why it’s an interesting time for foreigners here.
Not long ago I tweeted a question to you asking about getting a bank account in Brazil and your reply was “Buy a shovel. Find some soft dirt in a no-flood zone. Or get a roommate/friend with funds in The States. Win-Win” lol What did you mean by that?
Well… unless you’re a permanent resident, you’re not opening a bank account here, so your savings account is your mattress, a shoebox or your backyard. If you find someone with funds in the US, you could, theoretically of course, give them reais and use their account to pay your bills, buy things, etc. Theoretically. And allegedly.
Are you working in Brazil? If so, what kind of job do you have?
Allegedly. If you believe everything you read on the internet, I teach English and Spanish at a private school and am a contributing editor at Time Out São Paulo. The passport ninja stuff I do pro bono.
Do you have any advice for interested travelers?
If you like nightlife and good food, don’t hurry out of São Paulo when you touch down here. There’s plenty to see and do here, and the bar and club scene is amazing. Other than that, keep in mind it’s a massive country, so try and have some kind of game plan based on how much you have. If you want to see the Northeast, Rio, SP and Foz on a 3-week trip, for example, plan of flying. They’re pretty far apart from each other, more than most people realize.
Any advice for those wishing to live in Brazil?
If you have an eye on SP or Rio, you need to know it’s not cheap. You’ll need to find decent work and a good living situation to make it, and being central or at the very least close to a public transportation hub will make life a lot easier.
This spot was pretty cool. It is in the middle-class neighborhoods of Botago and Humaitá in Rio and basically across the street from Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, which is a large lake in the south zone of Rio de Janeiro. Passing by the hostel you would just think it is a plain, regular house which is probably a good thing. No place wants to be labeled as a tourist haven. The owners, Juliana and Wesley are some of the coolest people that I have ever met. They create more of a family atmosphere instead of the typical hotel where you really have no interaction with anybody. My first night was pretty much drinking beers and chatting with Juliana, an Aussie, and two people from Finland.
I’m usually not the one to just be sitting and drinking all night and being that it was my first night in Rio, I wanted to go out. Being the awesome hosts that they are Juliana and Wes took the four of us ( 1 Aussie, 2 Finnish, and me) out to a bar in Leblon. Leblon is another neigborhood in the south zone of Rio and is known for being one of the wealthiest areas of the city . So about 12 or 1am (can’t remember) we arrive at this bar. Typical carioca bar, well typical Rich carioca bar lol
We had four or five rounds of Chopp (extremely cold Brazilian draft beer) and some bar snack food like Pão de queijo (cheese bread), fried cheese, and linguiça. Wish I could remember the name of the bar but o well. My 1st night in Rio was a memorable one thanks to the owners of Lagoa Guesthouse. So if you are looking for a cool place stay thats cheap and meet people from around the globe, I would definitely recommend Lagoa Guesthouse.