Rua Domingos Morais, 86 – Vila Mariana
Sao Paulo, 04010-000, Brazil
São Paulo, with its cosmopolitan populace, is home to a large middle-Eastern population – especially Lebanese residents. This of course means delicious Lebanese food, one of our favorite varieties. Some Lebanese-inherited dishes have become popular all across Brazil – including kibbe – ground beef and cracked wheat fritters and the esfiha – an open faced pastry with either sweet or savory toppings. There are Middle Eastern restaurants on almost every corner of Sampa, so were definitely spoiled for choice (much as we were for Pizzas, as we will write about shortly). Right around the corner from our friends’ place was a Lebanese takeout restaurant that racked up accolades from Veja magazine and the like for awesome Lebanese treats. The menu at Jaber had both individual dishes, hot small snacks (salgados), and huge-family-style platters, they seemed to be doing very rapid turn over on large take-out plates for hungry families.
Of course we were pleased to see both kibbe and esfiha on offer at Jaber, both of which are pictured above. We sampled 3 types of esfihas, Za’atar, Cheese and Endive. The Za’atar esfiha really impressed us – the topping on the pastry crust was nothing but a solid layer of spice – Za’tar is a spice mix of thyme, oregano, sumac, sesame and salt – and the flavor of the esfiha was nothing short of explosive. Also on the menu were varieties of Esfiha that are “closed”, kind of a Brazilian/Lebanese take on Stromboli, with the pastry folded over the filling. Sao Paulo made us esfiha addicts! One thing about Brazil – they definitely have a lock on the pocket-sized savory pastry – who knew such myriad wonders even existed?