Brazilian food markets and street fairs

When visiting Brazil, it’s clear that food markets and street fairs play a big role in Brazilian life.  Food markets in Brazil are a sight to behold because they’re full of exotic fruit (frutas) and veg (vegetais) that you just don’t see in the UK.  One of the delights of shopping at food markets in Brazil is that stallholders are keen for you to taste what’s on offer, so you’ll be able to sample the produce before making a purchase.

Food stalls at Mercado Municipal de Curitiba, Parana, Brazil on gringotolingo
View of food stalls at Mercado Municipal de Curitiba

Visiting mercados e feiras

Other than supermarkets (supermercados), there are two main types of food market in Brazil, markets (mercados) and street fairs (feiras).  Mercados, or municipal markets, are housed in large buildings in major towns or cities (cidades).  If you’re visiting Brazil, it’s likely that you’ll end up in a mercado at some point as they are major attractions and great places to sample local produce.  In contrast, feiras, or street fairs pop-up in neighbourhoods on particular days.  Visiting a feira can be a good way to venture out of the city centre and see what the suburbs (subúrbios) have to offer. 

Famous marcados in Brazil include the Mercado Municipal de São Paulo, located in the centre of the city.  The Mercado Municipal de São Paulo covers a huge area of almost 13,000 square metres and is teeming with life.  When I last visited, I arrived just before lunchtime and sat down for a traditional pastel and beer (cerveja).  The origin of Brazilian pastéis (plural of pastel) is disputed, but they became popular across Brazil by the middle of the 20th Century.  Pastéis consist of a deep-fried pastry, often rectangular in shape, stuffed with minced beef (carne moída), shredded chicken (frango desfiado), cod (bacalhau) and other ingredients (ingredientes), served with a range of condiments (condimentos).

Of course, you don’t have to fly to Brazil to experience authentic Brazilian street food.  Just last weekend, I went to Nine Elms Market in Vauxhall, South London where there is an excellent stall serving pastéis, which also serves  as a hub for the local Brazilian community

Drinking a cup of sugar cane juice (caldo de cana) at Nine Elms Market, London on gringotolingo
Drinking a cup of sugar cane juice (caldo de cana) at Nine Elms Market, London

Words and phrases for Brazilian food markets

Useful words and phrases

how much?quanto custa?
kilogramo quilo
baga sacola


fruitsas frutas
orangea laranja
pineappleo abacaxi
mangoa manga


salada salada
cucumbero pepino
lettucea alface
tomatoo tomate


vegetablesos legumes
potatoesa batata
broccolio brócolis
carrota cenoura
oniona cebola
garlico alho

Fish and meat

fisho peixe
minced beefcarne moída
chickeno frango


cheeseo queijo
olive oilo azeite de oliva
coffeeo café

Food market vocabulary flashcards

Test your understanding of Brazilian food market vocabulary using the flashcards below. Click on the card to reveal the translation and the arrows to move between cards:

Click here to go to the resources page

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