São Luís: where to eat and drink
See on this page a guide to São Luís restaurants. If you prefer, click to go straight to the topic:
- Bóia recommends: highlights
- regional cuisine
- other kitchens
Bóia recommends: restaurants in São Luís
Regional & charming: Flor de Vinagreira
Happy hour at sunset: Ferreiro Praia (Friday to Sunday)
Honest Portuguese: Tasquinha do Ferreiro
Pasta & pizza: L’Italia a Tavola , Vignoli
Typical buffet: Senac (Sunday)
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At first sight (or bite), the cuisine of Maranhão is no different from the cuisine in other parts of the Northeast. There is a dish. However, that is as much from Maranhão as Alcione: the cuxá rice. Made with vinaigrette, a deliciously bitter herb-seasoned with tiny dried shrimp, cuxá rice has a unique flavor. It’s an accompaniment that outshines the main character of the dish — usually fried or grilled fish.
in the historic center
One of the good news in the gastronomic scene of São Luís is Flor de Vinagreira , from the same group as Feijão de Corda . It occupies a large house in the heart of the Historical Center: on Rua da Estrela, in front of Nauro Machado square, where for many years the Antigamente functioned. Pará chef Danilo Dias created a menu inspired by the cuisines of the coast and the hinterland. Start with the sour cuxá pastries, accompanied by pepper jelly. Continue with a hake fillet with cuxá rice, a Carne de sol rice, or a gratin from the sertão (shredded sun meat, au gratin with curd cheese, with creamy jerimum rice). For dessert, bacuri cream, delicious fruit from the Mid-North and Amazon (which resembles cupuaçu, but without the aftertaste). It does not close between lunch and dinner.
→ Grapevine Flower | R. da Estrela, 220 | Tel. (98) 99198-1800 | Instagram
Aunt Tip’s Cafe
The most picturesque restaurant in the historic center, Cafofinho da Tia Dica is in the heart of the neighborhood, on the side street of Praça Nauro Machado. The specialties are seafood dishes with coconut milk (like the ‘Arroz do CAFO for in the photo). The extensive menu offers cuxá rice as an accompaniment to many dishes and praises dried meat. To start, order the vatapá pastries with pepper jelly. Opens without interruption between lunch and dinner, and on Sunday, it only works at lunch.
→ Tia Dica’s Cafefinho | Trav. Marcelino de Almeida, 173 | Tel. (98) 8706-5089 | Instagram
For those who prefer to have lunch at a buffet, the Restaurant-School Senac is the best in the Historic Center. The best day is Sunday when the buffet is typical of the region. (On Saturday, it serves feijoada.) Open daily for lunch only, until 3 pm.
→ Restaurant-School Senac | R. de Nazareth, 242 | Tel. (98) 3198-1105 | Instagram
The kitchen Ancestral must be a unique restaurant in St. Louis. Prepare dishes inspired by indigenous and African-Maranhão cuisines, served in gourds. Divide a portion of mini-acarajés stuffed with vatapá, then order a ‘Desire de Catirina’ (breaded fish fillet, accompanied by carers and rice with babassu coconut milk) or a ‘dry mangrove’ (crab meat sauteed in olive oil green coconut, rice with tucupi and jambu, farofa with onion and banana). Open from Tuesday to Saturday, only at lunch, until 3 pm.
→ Biana Bistro | R. do Giz, 167 | Tel. (98) 99127-9888 | Instagram
in the neighborhoods
Looking for the most traditional restaurant in São Luís? Found it: it’s the Cabana do Sol. It’s the best place to taste carne de sol with all its side dishes: baião de two, cassava, paçoca, breaded banana. If you want something different and still typical, try the maranhense stew (with coconut milk, potatoes, and boiled egg) or the kid rice. The prices are high, but the portions are huge: they can easily be enough for three people (thankfully, they serve half a portion). It has two addresses — João Damasceno’s is closer to most hotels, and it does not close between lunch and dinner in the two houses.
→ Sun Cabin | R. João Damasceno, 24 A | Tel. (98) 3235-2586 | Instagram
→ Cabana do Sol | Avenida Litorânea, 10 | Tel. (98) 3227-7761 |Instagram
São Luís was not immune to the expansion of the Coco Bambu chain. The restaurant of Ceará origin works in a portentous house, where it serves shrimps almost always prepared with white sauce or cheese. (The fish section tends to have more dry options.) The portions are huge, and, as is customary in the chain, the restaurant refuses to serve half a portion. Go with someone who shares your taste buds.
→ Coco Bamboo | Av. Colares Moreira, 1, block 19 | Tel. (98) 3268-7400 | Instagram
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Opened in early 2019, Ferreiro Praiaoccupies the best space in the Champs shopping mall, a seaside shopping gallery that is revitalizing a wing of the Praiamar hotel, on the Ponta de Areia peninsula, among high-end residential buildings. The starters section features fresh or au gratin oysters, ceviche, and robatas (Japanese-style skewers) of salmon, octopus, and seafood. Among the main dishes (in individual portions, glory a Deux!), ravioli Nero with crab stuffing, crusted tuna, and cod rice. There are dishes for carnivores too. For dessert, don’t miss the bracelet: an Ostia-thin wafer produced by the nuns of Olinda, filled with ice cream and covered with chocolate syrup. It’s only open for dinner from Tuesday to Thursday and for lunch and dinner (without interruption) from Friday to Sunday — when it becomes a great choice for the sunset.
→Blacksmith Beach | a. Ivan Loureiro, s/n, Champs Mall | Tel. (98) 3302-5320 | Instagram
Franchise of Recife’s Tio Armênio/Tasquinha do Tio, Tasquinha Ferreiroserves good Portuguese food at good prices, and in individual portions (‘half a dose’) or to be divided (‘dose’). Start with the cod fritters (R$ 29, 6 units), cod pastries (R$ 21, 9 units), or duck croquettes (R$ 31, 6 units). Then choose between the various rice packets (octopus, duck, shrimp, oxtail, cod), a codfish (it has an individual portion, something very rare), or a filet. Paellas serve 2 or 4 people — but when they are the dish of the day, they can come in individual portions, super well served for R$39. by nuns from Olinda, stuffed with cream ice cream and covered with chocolate syrup. Open for dinner from Monday to Wednesday and non-stop lunch and dinner from Thursday to Sunday.
→Tasquinha Blacksmith | R. dos Gaviões, 108, Lagoa da Jansen | Tel. (98) 3181-8362 | Instagram
Italy in Tavola
It was supposed to be just a delicatessen, but with success L’Italia in Tavolaturned into a canteen. The owner is Italian — he came to São Luís as an engineer and went through the kitchen. The menu brings pasta with sauces rare to find in the Northeast, such as cacao and Pepe (pecorino cheese and black pepper), amatriciana (tomato and pancetta), and puttanesca (tomato, olive, and caper). It also prepares risottos and pizzas. In a concession to Brazilian taste, the meat part has polpettone stuffed with mozzarella and filet à parmigiana (Italian dishes invented in Brazil). The point of my dough also seemed a little beyond al dente, but still much firmer than normal in the Northeast (if you want super al dente, I recommend emphasizing this when ordering; I would do it on a lap). The Aperol Spritz is well done and generously served, and it does not close between lunch and dinner.
→ L’Italia in Tavola| Av. dos Holandeses, 14 | Tel. (98) 98184-7283 | Facebook
A subsidiary of a pizzeria from Ceará, Vignoli prepares thin and crunchy pizzas, which you can eat by hand (along with the cutlery, plastic gloves come for those who prefer). It also has a pasta section.
→ Vignoli | R. João Damasceno, 21 | Tel. (98) 3251-8221 | Instagram
Theoretically, Ferreiro Grill is a steak house. But the menu became so extensive and varied that the most appropriate genre would be ‘family restaurant’. Open daily with no break between lunch and dinner.
→ Blacksmith Grill | R. Independência, 10, Lagoa da Jansen | Tel. (98) 3227-4060 | Instagram
In a house located in a quiet square in the heart of the Calhau district, Armazém does. Chef is the restaurant version of one of the most prestigious tents on the beach. The footprint is comfort food with an accent from Maranhão: breaded shrimp accompanied by cuxá rice; tongue ‘from Catirina’ to red wine; yellow hake with garlic rice; mutton with creamy rice. Opens without interruption between lunch and dinner.
→ Chef’s Warehouse | R. Uriacica, 15 | Tel. (98) 98119-0737 | Instagram
If the idea is a small dinner by the sea, go to Biana Bistro. It works in a kiosk on São Marcos beach. Serves pasta, risottos & French dishes in a charming setting, with the sound of the waves. Open Tuesday and Wednesday for dinner, Thursday to Saturday without interruption between lunch and dinner, and Sunday for lunch until late afternoon.
→ Biana Bistro | Av. Litorânea, module 11 | Tel. (98) 98118-0866 | Instagram
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