The culinary tradition of Minas Gerais is known throughout Brazil for its use of wood or coal-fired ovens and cast-iron and soap-stone utensils and pans which give this local Brazilian food a characteristic flavour. This is how food here has been cooked for hundreds of years in small farmhouses. Restaurants in Ouro Preto which have adopted these historic techniques have helped popularize the cuisine in other parts of Brazil. Just as in farmhouse kitchens, these restaurants prepare their dishes sourcing fresh, local produce and meats, particularly pork and chicken.
There are numerous restaurants in Ouro Preto and you will find a variety of foods to suit all tastes!
Our Ouro Preto Restaurant Guide below will give you some handy information about eating out in Ouro Preto, as well as the types of cuisine you are likely to encounter. For some general information about food and cuisine in Brazil see our Brazil Restaurant Guide. Some tips and suggestions for shopping in Ouro Preto can be found in our Ouro Preto Shopping Guide.
Cassava flour, known as mandioca, is the starch of choice for making cakes and appetizers. Best known among these is pão de queijo, a small roll made of cheese and cassava flour, baked and served as a hot appetizer. Known worldwide as Brazilian cheese rolls, these are also a breakfast favourite. Cachaça, (distilled, fermented sugarcane juice), the alcoholic beverage that packs quite a punch, is also a local product of significance. Don't miss the chance to visit an authentic Cachaça production site on one of our Ouro Preto tours.
Hearty stews and bean dishes with pork are big favourites locally. Tutu á Mineira and feijão tropeiro are typical of Minas cuisine. In the former, beans are cooked, mashed and recooked, much like Mexican fried beans. This is served with a choice of pork products, egg, collard greens and rice.
Feijão tropeiro follows a similar route, except that the beans, instead of being mashed, are combined with cassava flour. Frango a molho pardo, a traditional chicken dish hailing from Portugal is - hold your breath - made with fresh chicken blood. If that makes you wince with horror, you'll be surprised to know that it's quite tasty. You might like to experiment with a tiny portion at a kilo restaurant (Brazilian buffets where you pay by weight for the food you pick up). Frango com quiabo is chicken in a rich tomato and okra stew. These four dishes are bound to be featured in virtually all Ouro Preto restaurants. A single portion is usually sufficient for two persons.
Farofa is made of manioc flour with small quantities of pork, hard-boiled eggs, onions or various vegetables, polenta, collard greens or chouriço (a less spicy version of the chorizo sausage). These and fried bananas are some of the most popular dishes from Minas Gerais.
The national dish is the marvellous black bean stew called Feijoada. Prepared fresh to order, this dish is typically served on Sundays. When you've had dinner at a churrasco, (Portuguese for barbecue restaurants), you'll agree that the Brazilian barbecue is a hard act to follow. Also don't miss out on the experience of eating at a rodizio, where you will be served different cuts of meat ad infinitum, until you indicate otherwise.
The opulence of Baroque in Brazil's beautiful religious sculptures is also reflected in Ouro Preto's cuisine. The substantial meat dishes are high on calories and fat, as well as taste. Even jabuticada, the native liqueur, has a rich, cherry flavour. If you're watching your waistline or simply craving lighter fare, check out the local cafés. The ones on the Rua Direita are said to be the best, where apart from simpler food, you can also listen to jazz and bossa nova played by live bands into the wee hours of the night.