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Time Out: Sao Paulo

Andre Vieira

São Paulo can be an overwhelming urban monster to the uninitiated. A full-throttle concrete jungle operating at overload capacity at all hours of the day and night, the city is South America’s vivacious heart of finance and fashion, business deals and debauchery, grit and gastronomy. But Sampa—as it’s called by locals—can be tamed. There’s no better spot in Brazil to eat, drink and play—and take in a few fine art museums along the way. Those willing to break out of the boardroom and hit the concrete running (definitely take the metro because traffic can be debilitating) will be rewarded with nothing but a good time.

Skip the big-name museums and go local with Casa Amarela in Jardins, which showcases the small but world’s best collection of artifacts from Irmãos Villas-Bôas, a three-brother Brazilian activist team who were the first white men to ever come in contact with the upper Xingu River indigenous communities of the Amazon. Across town at Fundação Maria Luisa e Oscar Americano, you’ll find an impressive collection of 17th-to- 20th-century painting, sculpture and objets d’art in an exquisite 1950s Brazilian modernist home in Morumbi.

São Paulo’s vibrant street art culture is under threat by the new mayor’s administration, so now is the time to visit fascinating spots such as Beco de Batman, a canvassed alleyway in the city’s most bohemian neighborhood, Vila Madalena.

Getting hungry? Venture into the Bela Vista home of Bahian Hélia Bispo Bá for a truly unforgettable experience. At her “secret” Patuá da Baiana, Bá showers only a few fortunate diners nightly with her grandmotherly love, excellent caipirinhas and classic takes on some of the richest and most memorable dishes from Bahia, a state in northeastern Brazil. Call ahead—if she digs your vibe, you’re in!

Not far from Bela Vista, famed barman Souza serves up the city’s most highly awarded caipirinhas (try jabuticaba, a grapelike fruit, or the star fruit with basil or tangerine with dedo de moça pepper) at Veloso Bar. Craft cocktail connoisseurs will want to head to SubAstor in Vila Madalena or Frank Bar inside Maksoud Plaza, one of Sampa’s classic luxury hotels.

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