Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Restaurants in Belo Horizonte: Gastronomy and Typical Cuisine
The state of Minas Gerais is known throughout Brazil for its unique fusion of African, Portuguese and indigenous food, creating what is known today as "mineira" cuisine. The city of Belo Horizonte takes tradition a step further, with farmhouse restaurants serving local mineira food along with upscale restaurants offering international cuisine and the thousands of bars that have made this cosmopolitan destination famous.
The local cooking originates from the times of the seventeenth and eighteenth century gold rush, when people from all over the country migrated to Minas Gerais. The variety of recipes brought in by immigrants combined with the farmhouse lifestyle of the locals eventually evolved into mineira cuisine. Traditional cooking methods in Minas Gerais include ovens fired by coal or wood along with cast iron pans.
The typical ingredients used in mineira cooking include corn flour, sweet potato, pork, beef, tropical fruits, honey, herbs, vegetables and pepper, combined with unique spices such as "urucum", cumin and saffron. Among the most popular dishes, you'll find "feijoada" (Brazil's national dish, stew with black beans, pork and dried beef), "prato feito" (steak with rice and beans), "pao de queijo" (Brazilian cheese rolls), "frango com quiabo" (chicken with okra and porridge), and locally produced cheeses.
The people of Belo are known for their love of bars. The city is even rumored to have the most bars per capita in the entire country. Of course, this city has to have its own typical drink: "cachaca" (pronounced "cah-CHAH-sah"), a brandy made from distilled sugarcane that is produced throughout the country. Brazilians often drink this liquor plain, but it's also the main ingredient in the famous Brazilian Caipirinha cocktail. It's often used as a rum substitute.
Comida di Buteco Bar Food Contest
Belo Horizonte is home to one of the largest food festivals in Brazil: Comida di Buteco. This month-long contest during the month of April and into May includes more than forty bars from all over the city competing for the title of best bar. Each bar must prepare a "tira-gosto" (a hearty bar appetizer) to be served with beer and cachaca. Some local tira-gosto favorites include ingredients such as potatoes, lamb, beef, fried cassava, and sausage.
Most of the festivities take place in the Savassi and Lourdes neighborhoods in the downtown area. Bars are judged mostly on their original tira-gosto, with part of the scoring also including service, hygiene, and beer coldness. A panel of judges combined with popular vote determine which bar is the winner. This event brings in over 400,000 participants and visitors each year.
This restaurant, situated in the vibrant Savassi neighborhood, is famous for its delicious local mineira dishes and authentic homemade flavors. The buffet features up to fifty traditional country foods set up in earthenware pots and cast-iron pans. Enjoy vegetables from Dona Lucinha's farm along with local meats and cheeses. Everything is reminiscent of a mineira country farmhouse, including a selection of homemade liqueurs.
Xapuri serves typical mineira farmhouse meals in the popular Pampulha district. Sit under a thatched roof at a long picnic table as you enjoy traditional foods such as pork tenderloin and "feijao tropeiro" (beans and sausage with cracklings) served in bowls and iron skillets. The traditional wood stove prepares these dishes, and you can relax on the nearby hammocks after a delicious meal.
This "churrascaria" (Brazilian steakhouse) is set on a ridge overlooking Belo, offering visitors incomparable panoramic views. Porcao (which means "big pig") serves some of the best meat in the city, including beef, pork, lamb, chicken and fish in an all-you-can-eat setting brought right to your table. You can also enjoy Porcao's scotch bar, wine cellar, fondue table, barbeque, and sushi bar. This high quality steakhouse has some of the city's highest prices, which are well compensated by the stunning setting, unique menu, and excellent meat.
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