The Mercado Municipal de São Paulo, better known simply as the Mercadão, opened in 1933 and soon became a better place to shop for food than the nearby market on Rua 25 de março.
The Mercadão is the go-to place to buy fresh food, have a bite to eat, and meet up with friends.
All in all, there are over 1,600 people working there, in more than 300 booths, bringing in and pushing out 600 tons of food per day. That food comes in the shape of fresh fruits, veggies, grains, meats, spices, and more…and a lot of it is free to be sampled!
As I mentioned, it’s a great place to sit down to eat at one of the many food and drink kiosks there. A classic Mercadão dish, and an instant favorite of those visiting for the first time, is surely the meaty mortadela sandwich, weighing in at about half a pound. In second place is another classic, the pastel de bacalhau (codfish).
If the colors of all the exotic fruits, spices, etc, weren’t enough, any visitor looking up will see 72 stained-glass windows, done by a Russian artist in the 1930s and brought back to their original glory in a 2004 restoration. It was during the renovation effort that the food kiosks were installed and at which point the market naturally became a meeting point for the 10-25 thousand people who go there daily.
Chefs, on the other hand, have been frequenting the market and bumping into each other for close to a century. Not only does food from the Mercadão land on the plates of the average Joe (I mean, João), but it also reaches the kitchens of the best restaurants in São Paulo.
The Mercadão is for everyone and, in a very real sense, it’s a representation of the mega city itself, an assemblage of sights, smells, sounds, and things to touch and taste.