The Ultimate Guide to Street Food in Brazil: What to Try and Where to Find It

The Ultimate Guide to Street Food in Brazil: What to Try and Where to Find It

Brazil, a land of vibrant cultures, pulsating rhythms, and stunning landscapes, is also a paradise for food enthusiasts. Among its many culinary treasures, street food stands out for its unique flavors, accessibility, and the way it encapsulates the essence of Brazilian life. From bustling city markets to quiet coastal towns, street food in Brazil offers a window into the country’s rich gastronomic heritage and diverse culinary practices. Here’s your ultimate guide to exploring the best street food in Brazil and where to find it.

What to Try

1. Acarajé

Acarajé is a deep-fried ball made from black-eyed peas, stuffed with vatapá (a rich, creamy paste made from shrimp, peanuts, and coconut milk) and caruru (a spicy okra paste). Originating from Bahia, a state in the northeastern part of Brazil, acarajé is a culinary legacy of African slaves. It’s traditionally prepared by Baianas (women dressed in white, traditional garb), often served with a side of pepper sauce and shrimp.

Where to Find It:

– Salvador, Bahia: The streets of Pelourinho, a historic neighborhood, and the Barra Lighthouse area are famous for acarajé stalls.

2. Coxinha

Coxinha is a beloved Brazilian snack, shaped like a teardrop. It consists of shredded chicken covered in dough, then battered and fried to golden perfection. The filling is often mixed with Catupiry (a creamy cheese), making it both savory and indulgent.

Where to Find It:

– São Paulo: Street vendors and bakeries (padarias) throughout the city.

– Rio de Janeiro: Popular in beachside kiosks and street markets.

3. Pão de Queijo

Pão de queijo, or cheese bread, is a traditional Brazilian snack made from tapioca flour and cheese. These bite-sized delights are crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. They’re particularly famous in the state of Minas Gerais.

Where to Find It:

– Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais: Street vendors and local bakeries (padarias).

– Nationwide: You can find them in almost every corner bakery and supermarket.

4. Pastel

Pastel is a thin-crust pastry filled with various ingredients, then deep-fried. Common fillings include cheese, ground beef, chicken, and heart of palm. Often sold at street markets, pastels are typically accompanied by a glass of freshly squeezed sugarcane juice (caldo de cana).

Where to Find It:

– São Paulo: The Municipal Market (Mercadão) and various street markets (feiras livres).

5. Brigadeiro

Brigadeiro is Brazil’s answer to the chocolate truffle. Made from condensed milk, cocoa powder, and butter, then rolled in chocolate sprinkles, these sweet treats are a staple at Brazilian celebrations.

Where to Find It:

– Rio de Janeiro: Street vendors and dessert shops.

– Nationwide: Available in bakeries and supermarkets.

6. Kibe

Kibe, influenced by Middle Eastern cuisine, is a fried or baked croquette made from minced beef and bulgur wheat, mixed with spices like mint and garlic. It’s crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.

Where to Find It:

– São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro: Street vendors and Middle Eastern food stalls.

7. Tapioca

Tapioca is a versatile street food made from cassava flour. It’s a type of flatbread that can be filled with either sweet or savory ingredients. Popular fillings include cheese, coconut, condensed milk, and chocolate.

Where to Find It:

– Recife and Olinda, Pernambuco: Street vendors and beachside stalls.

– Nationwide: Particularly popular in the northeast regions.

8. Churrasquinho

Churrasquinho, or Brazilian barbecue skewers, are a simple yet delicious street food. Skewers of grilled meat, often beef, chicken, or sausage, are seasoned to perfection and served hot off the grill.

Where to Find It:

– Nationwide: Street vendors, especially in cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.

9. Bolinhos de Bacalhau

These codfish fritters are a Portuguese-inspired delicacy. Made from salted cod, potatoes, and spices, then deep-fried until golden, they are a popular street food, especially during festivals.

Where to Find It:

– Rio de Janeiro: Street vendors and beachside stalls.

10. Açaí na Tigela

Açaí na tigela, or açaí bowl, is a refreshing treat made from frozen açaí berries blended into a smooth, thick consistency. It’s often topped with granola, banana slices, and a drizzle of honey.

Where to Find It:

– Rio de Janeiro: Beachside stalls and juice bars.

– Nationwide: Juice bars and health food shops.

Where to Find It

Top Cities for Street Food in Brazil

1. São Paulo

São Paulo is Brazil’s culinary capital, offering a vast array of street food options. The Mercado Municipal and the various street markets across the city are great places to start.

2. Rio de Janeiro

Known for its vibrant beach culture, Rio offers delicious street food options along its famous beaches like Copacabana and Ipanema, and in neighborhoods like Lapa and Santa Teresa.

3. Salvador

Salvador is the heart of Afro-Brazilian culture and cuisine. The historic Pelourinho district and the Barra Lighthouse area are must-visit spots for street food.

4. Belo Horizonte

Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais, is famous for its cheese bread (pão de queijo) and other regional specialties. Street vendors and local bakeries (padarias) are abundant.

5. Recife

Recife, in the northeastern state of Pernambuco, offers unique street food options, particularly tapioca. The city’s beaches and street markets are filled with food stalls.

Recreate the Brazilian Street Food Experience at Home

Essential Ingredients

To recreate Brazilian street food, you’ll need a few key ingredients:

– Cassava flour (for tapioca)

– Black-eyed peas (for acarajé)

– Tapioca flour and Brazilian cheeses like Minas cheese (for pão de queijo)

– Condensed milk and cocoa powder (for brigadeiro)

– Bulgur wheat (for kibe)

Basic Recipes

1. Pão de Queijo (Cheese Bread)


– 2 cups tapioca flour

– 1 cup milk

– 1/2 cup water

– 1/4 cup vegetable oil

– 1 teaspoon salt

– 1 1/2 cups grated cheese (Minas cheese or Parmesan)

– 2 beaten eggs


1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).

2. In a saucepan, combine milk, water, oil, and salt. Bring to a boil.

3. Remove from heat and stir in the tapioca flour until smooth.

4. Let the mixture cool slightly, then add the cheese and beaten eggs.

5. Mix until combined and form small balls of dough.

6. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

2. Brigadeiro (Chocolate Truffles)


– 1 can of condensed milk

– 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

– 2 tablespoons butter

– Chocolate sprinkles (for rolling)


1. Combine condensed milk, cocoa powder, and butter in a saucepan over medium heat.

2. Stir continuously until the mixture thickens and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan.

3. Remove from heat and let it cool.

4. Once cool, grease your hands with butter, roll the mixture into small balls, and coat with chocolate sprinkles.

Tips for an Authentic Experience

  • Ambiance: Play Brazilian music to set the mood. Samba and Bossa Nova are excellent choices.
  • Presentation: Serve the food in simple, rustic dishes, or even on banana leaves if you can find them.
  • Drinks: Pair with Brazilian beverages like Guaraná (a popular soda) or caipirinha (a cocktail made with cachaça, lime, and sugar).


Q: Are there vegetarian options for Brazilian street food?

A: Yes, many Brazilian street foods can be made vegetarian. For example, you can find or make tapioca with cheese or coconut fillings, and pão de queijo is naturally vegetarian.

Q: Is Brazilian street food spicy?

A: Some Brazilian street foods, like acarajé, can be quite spicy, especially with added pepper sauces. However, many dishes are not spicy and can be enjoyed by those with milder palates.

Q: Can I find Brazilian street food outside of Brazil?

A: Yes, in many major cities around the world, you can find Brazilian restaurants and food trucks offering authentic street food. Additionally, you can make many of these dishes at home with the right ingredients.

Q: What’s the best time to enjoy street food in Brazil?

A: Brazilian street food is available year-round, but evenings and weekends are particularly vibrant times, especially at street markets and during festivals.

Exploring street food in Brazil is not just about satisfying your hunger; it’s about immersing yourself in the culture, traditions, and daily life of the Brazilian people. Whether you’re wandering the streets of São Paulo or recreating these dishes in your own kitchen, Brazilian street food offers a delicious adventure for every palate.

Share via
Copy link