Once you step foot in the south of Brazil, the true diversity of this intriguing country becomes evident.
Curitiba, the capital of the southern state of Paraná, is a city that combines European history with all things Brazilian -- high rise office buildings representing the business done here, historic Catholic churches with detailed architectural design and cobblestone streets that lead you to coffee shops serving brewed cups of roasted beans from around the country.
This melting pot of culture is most evident in the food. French, Italian and German cuisine can be found all over the city -- downtown in the pedestrian areas, along the inviting streets of the Batel neighborhood and tucked away in old homes converted to restaurants.
If you are asking yourself why you would want European cuisine while traveling in Brazil, I have good reason. While the foundation of these cuisines may be from across the world, the Brazilian influence is impossible to ignore. The combination leads to dining experiences you won’t find any place else in the world. These are not the meeting places of the expatriates, but the hangouts for locals celebrating their diverse culture through food.
My pick? German. Specifically German at the Schwarzwald Bar do Alemão located in the pedestrian boulevard behind the Catedral Basílica Menor de Nossa Senhora da Luz de Curitiba. On the menu you will find plenty of sausages, salsicha, my favorite being the one that is battered, deep fried and covered in spicy mustard. The pork knee, joelho de porco, is another popular dish. Among those favorites fried mandioca, manioc or yucca, is a Brazilian appetizer to start your meal.
The beer is where things begin to get interesting. Most people head to Bar do Alemão for the Submarino – a chopp (draft beer) with a shot of Steinhager nestled inside a ceramic mini-stein. If you are brave you can upgrade from the Steinhager to Jägermeister.
Brazilian cultural eating practices reign here which means you grab your seat early in the evening, enjoy the company of friends, drink your beer and perhaps order some food around 10:00 or 11:00 pm. If you are a visitor and not used to large steins of beer mixed with liquor might I suggest ordering a few appetizers to tide you over.
There is both indoor and outdoor bench-and-table-style seating. If you are headed there on the weekend plan to arrive by 7:00 pm if you want your pick of tables. Otherwise you may have a hard time finding a spot to celebrate your evening.