Here we go again! Another trip, another challenge. Last year, when I have been to my Santos visiting my family, I didn’t have any kind of concern about what or where to eat.
Firstly, there are so many good restaurants in the city that it wouldn`t be a problem to find healthy food anyway. Secondly, being back home always means eating the comfiest food on the planet: my mom’s food!
This time, I had a kind of different scenario to face: I am vegetarian. And as far as I know, it is a for good decision. The problem is we are big meat eaters in Brazil. Just to get a gist of it, this Top 10 foods to try in Brazil gives you a bit of a taste of our food and the Brazilian kitchen that is far from being vegetarian-friendly.
On the other hand, our country’s food is so diverse that even Top 100 wouldn’t be enough to describe how amazing our culinary is, to be honest.
I do recommend you finding the book Brazilian Food by the renowned Chef Thiago Castanho to get a gist of it. And The BBrazilian Vegan Recipes by Andressa De Veiga that was the only book with vegetarian recipes I have found online as another good source.
It is a fact our diverse culinary makes all the difference when cooking or eating out. And it is also a good thermometer to measure how fortunate we are when talking about the range of ingredients we find from North to South of Brazil.
So, that should make things easier for meat-free eaters, don’t you think?
The other point is when you become vegetarian people automatic classifies you as a fussy eater. Well, I would change the word fussy to more selective. It works better like this. Luckily, I have a great bunch of friends back home that not just embrace my idea of finding vegetarian-friendly places to eat there, but also joined me on this adventure.
To be honest, I had no problem to find vegetarian and healthy-eating places in Santos, Sao Paulo. I had the habit of visiting restaurants such as Capim Limao way back to 2010 when I was still living in the city. It is as healthy as it can get, and this restaurant has been opened since 2005!
So, yes. It’s pretty easy to find veggie restaurants or a vegetarian menu is most of the restaurants in the city. Here’s the list of places I have tried during my trip to Santos this year:
1- My first great experience this year was in a place called D’Boa Latino. As you can guess, it’s a Latin American food restaurant with two ambients. It was so packed when we visited, that we were sitting down in the Mexican room, which was beautiful anyway.
The vegetarian buffet was extraordinary, to say the least. I comfortably can say, this is a restaurant for all kind of tastes. There are so many varieties in their menu that I could spend my life visiting and it wouldn’t be enough to try everything. Aubergine lasagne, guacamole, beetroot salad and much more were served at this huge restaurant.
I pretty much tried everything I would like because it’s a place you pay once to try as much as possible. That explains why my photos DON’T look like an Instagramers’ dream one. Sorry about that! But there was no need to be greedy like me.
You can always come back to D`Boa the following day and the menu will be completely different. Delicious homemade nutritious food. I absolutely love this place.
2- Another favourite is not a paradise for vegans: Bodegaia. But it is a nice place to drink, so I would put this on my list anyway. This restaurant is located only 5 minutes from my parent’s house and it always was one of my favourites.
It was the choice of many nights out with my friends in the past and it is still a place that we visit for casual meetings when I am back in town.
The Bodegaia is a place my friends and I always visited during many years and it brings amazing memories back everytime we step there.
Bodegaia serves typical northwest Brazilian food, which means: meat. A lot of meat. The good surprise was to find Dadinhos de tapioca (Little Dices of Tapioca) and pastel de queijo (cheese pasty) that are perfect veggie snacks.
This way, vegetarians and non-vegetarians can pop to this place and enjoy the best Jaboticaba’s caipirinha of Santos.
3- For the sweet-tooth ones, Marleide Monteiro is the place to be. Marleide is a successful baker in the region who opened four shops in Santos and Praia Grande, a city nearby.
I have visited the Store 2 in Santos. Again, next to my parent’s house in Pompeia. It’s actually situated on the same street they live.
The idea was having a snack with my friend and then, maybe a cake or tow depending how the conversation was flowing. After all, how can you visit a famous bakery without tasting some delicious sweets?
I confess it was a bit difficult to find some veggie snacks, but I think it was because I visited it when it was about to close. And I manage to have a Ricotta Pasty that was simply delicious anyway.
The cake of choice? a kind of Lime Meringue pie to die for that worth it any single penny. It was huge! And I do recommend visiting this place when in Santos. What a brilliant adding to the city.
What about the takeaway food?
4- Yes, it was pretty tempting use it all the time because it was raining most of the days I have spent in Santos. So, delivery is always an option in this case.
But I have used the app ifood in Brazil for so many times now that I wonder how much money I would be spending on if I was living there. And I was impressed with the variety of different cuisines you can try at home.
This time, my friend and I decided to go for some Japanese food by Kampay getting a huge Veggie Tempura, some Shimeji and a typical Sunomono. (cucumber salad).
5- Last but not least, I have visited the conceptual Oca restaurant with my family. And I can tell, it was delightful. A great gastronomic experience.
If you like meat, of course. I was really impressed with my family’s main choice of chicken, rice beans and veggies. They are not vegetarian, so they made the most of it. This restaurant caters (very well, by the way) meat eaters. But there are also excellent options for vegetarians.
To start with a very creative salad menu. No jokes, that brie and dried tomato salad (with the mix of greens and mustard and honey sauce) was both the most expensive and most creative salad I had in life. It’s gorgeous and delicious. It was hard to imagine someone would serve a salad the way it is presented. A lush!
And what to say about the deserts in this place? The signature dish Oca tart (Sweet pasta made with cashew flour, stuffed with dulce de leche and Brazilian nut) is one of the most beautiful things I ever tried in my life. A masterpiece to eat with your eyes first. You can’t find a pudding more Brazilian than this one!
They also prepared a beautiful kids pudding for my niece Sofia. It was supposed to be just a vanilla ice cream but was delivered as arty as possible. Beautiful. Loved Oca and I will be back for more next year.