Sao Paulo - Mortadella Sandwich in The Mercado Municipal

This past Saturday, I went to the Mercado Municipal in Sao Paulo. I wanted to sample the infamous "mortadella sandwich" (hot baloney sandwich) and the "shrimp or cod pie" that were featured in the Food Channel by Chef Anthony Bourdain during his last visit to Sao Paulo.

The Mercado Municipal Paulistano, is a huge, neo-baroque structure built around 1931. It was recently renovated in 2004. Today, it houses around 300 food vendors that sell Brazilian fruits, fish, meats, cheese, Arabic pastries, spices, sandwiches, pastries and drinks. The setting is impeccably clean and the food, dirt cheap and divine.

The Mercado, is famous for its "Pasteis de Bacalhau" (fried pastry pockets stuffed with cod), it's "Mortadela Sanduiches" (baloney sandwiches which are served hot) and the Pasteis de Camarao (hot shrimp pastry pockets). To order one of these, you must first get a ticket from the cashier in the snack bar of your choice, then you can approach the counter and your order will be filled. If you want a table, you may have to wait.

A visit to the Mercado Municipal for lunch on Saturdays, is a Paulista family tradition, but one can visit the market seven days a week -Monday to Saturday from 5am to 6pm and Sundays from 7am to 4pm.

To get there, you can either take the Metro and get off at the Sao Bento station, or you can take a cab from the hotel. The taxi ride is about 10 to 15 minutes and you can have your driver drop you near one of the entrances of the Mercado (photo enclosed). The building is large and beautiful, easily spotted from a distance; it looks like an old European train station. Don't be intimidated by the circus like atmosphere outside the Mercado, it changes drastically once you enter the building.

Inside the market, it's best to wander around the stalls to view the gorgeous stained glass, the amazing fruit displays, the fresh pastries, the imported olives, the hanging bottles of olive oil, the fresh baked breads, etc. You will also find some snack bars and restaurants. You'll be amazed at the cleanliness and order inside the place.

Don't leave with out trying the "Mortadela Sanduiche" and a "Pasteis". I had a mortadela sandwich with "queijo" (melted cheese) and a "Pasteis de Camarao" (a shrimp pastry pocket with cheese). Both were amazing and they only cost about 8 Reales each! The sandwich was served in a crunchy, warm french roll and the mortadela was piled about 2 inches high. The Pasteis was freshly made and it was crunchy and hot, stuffed with delicious shrimp and melted cheese. Both were huge and impossible to finish in one sitting.

I ate at Mane's snack bar but some people prefer Hocca's. Try and see what place you like best and let us know what you think!

Do you have a favorite restaurant in Sao Paulo? share your photos and stories with us by sending them to :

Mercado Municipal Paulistano
Rua de Cateira 306
Sao Paulo


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