Brasília, The Foodie Capital
With only 50 years of history under the belt, Brasilia is still defining its culinary culture within the city.
One of the first questions I asked when I arrived in the capital was “what local food should I try while I’m in town,” and to my surprise, the question was met with many confused faces.
Everyone offered a great place to go, but each response was followed with the disclaimer, “…but that’s not really from here.”
Over the past half century as Brasilia developed and population grew, immigrants from across the country and around the world have brought with them a sampling of food from many different regions and origins.
From delicious churrascos (BBQs) of Southern Brazil and rich seafood of the North, to traditional Arabian treats and superior sushi, it can all be found here in Brasilia.
As a capital city, the aim should be to represent an entire nation in many ways, and on a culinary level, Brasilia is doing a wonderful job of that.
Although some locals may not claim it yet, this is their developing culinary culture: A melting pot of national and international flavors that would make any foodie proud.
My taste buds spent four days exploring the best places to eat in Brasilia and they concluded that these are the spots that you should try while in town.
Beirute – Known by many as the first bar in Brasilia, this traditional Arabic spot is a great place for lunch and happy hour. You have to try the quibe de ovo, which is an Arabian meatball stuffed with cheese and topped with a fried egg. Wash it down with one of their craft beers and thank me later.
Mormaii – Three words: waterfront sushi buffet. Mormaii, or Surf Bar, is located in the beautiful lakeside district of Pontao in Lago Sur and offers fresh food with perfect views of the lake and city skyline.
Praca de Alimentacao – For the best variety of Brazilian food in the city, you should go to Praca de Alimentacao (food court) just below the Torre de TV (TV Tower). Here you can sample regional dishes from all across Brazil, like pastel, acaraje, pamonha and the delicious mixed grill with rice, farofa and lots of meat in the photo above.
Fogao Nativo – This is a very popular lunch spot amongst locals and it’s a great place to try food from the Goias region around Brasilia. It’s a pay-per-kilo restaurant, which means you pay for what you plate buffet style. On the menu you will find traditional dishes like empadão (pot pie), leitão (suckling pig/carnitas), torresmo (pork rinds/chicharrones), quiabo (okra), chuchu (chayote)and a crazy fruit called pequi, which is incredibly hard to eat if not prepared correctly because of it’s spikey interior.
These four spots are a must-try when in Brasilia and there are many others still that I didn’t have the opportunity to experience.
From what I hear, another popular pay-per-kilo spot is Mangai next to the JK Bridge, and there’s Pizza Dom Busco, where they only serve one type of pizza. And then there’s also Dudu Bar, Nau and Dom Francisco for more sophisticated palettes.
If you get overwhelmed with all the choices, check out Kekanto, Brazilians version of Yelp for reviews, and asking locals what they’re favorite spot are usually works out well, even if they tell you “but it’s not from here…”